God’s Word for You
Luke 22:66-71 before the Sanhedrin
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, April 19, 2019
66 When it was day, the elders of the people gathered together with the chief priests and scribes. Jesus was led before the Sanhedrin,
Luke clearly uses the word “Sanhedrin” here (Συνέδριον), the convocation of the selected seventy (or seventy-one) elders who made judgments on cases in Israel. By law, a man could not be convicted and sentenced to death by the Sanhedrin without two separate trials before them on two separate days. Also, the Sanhedrin was forbidden from meeting at night. In the case of Jesus’ trial, there was a second trial by day (verse 66) but the first trial had happened on the same calendar date and at night, making the whole sentence illegal, but they went ahead with it anyway.
67 and they said, “If you are the Christ, tell us.” He said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe. 68 And if I ask you, you will not answer.
In the nighttime session, Jesus had been accused of claiming that he would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days (which is not what he had said) and of claiming to be the Christ (Matthew 26:64). Now he is asked only if he is the Christ. Jesus cannot answer this, because there were conflicting understandings of who the Christ was even within the Sanhedrin. They were, for the most part, looking to a secular Christ, one who would empower the nation of Israel as a great State in the world, and perhaps their Christ was hoped to be a Military leader as well. What Jesus would have debated, had they ever approached him about it, was what does the Bible mean by “Christ.” He could not say that he was the Christ while they misunderstood what that meant. As it was, he could hardly say, “I am the Scriptural Christ,” either, so he explains his answer before he gives it. “If I tell you (what the Christ really is), you will not believe, and if I ask you (what the Christ really is) you will not answer.” Why wouldn’t they answer? Because they could not even agree among themselves.
69 But from now on the Son of man shall be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”
Here Jesus quotes Psalm 110:1. What does he mean by “from now on”? He means that from this point, his suffering and death, he was fulfilling the true work of the Messiah. After this, all that was left for him to do was to be seated at the right hand of God. Jesus’ place at the right hand of God proves his divinity as well as the truth that his sacrifice for mankind’s sin was accepted by God the Father. This should be remembered wherever Jesus’ seat at the right hand is mentioned: Mark 16:19; Acts 2:34; Acts 7:55-56; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1, and all of the references in Hebrews: Hebrews 1:3, 1:13, 8:1, 10:12, 12:2. From there he will return again on the Last Day. He ascended to heaven in the sight of the disciples so that they and everyone would know that he has gone there to rule over all things.
70 They all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he replied, “You are saying that I am.” 71 And then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it from his own lips.”
Notice the “all” that is the second word in our English translation. In Greek it is only less definite if the “they” of “they said” (οἱ δὲ εἶπαν) is not carefully considered. This question was asked by the whole council, man by man, but probably not in any orderly fashion. In an uproar, they all wanted to ask the same thing, therefore it is recorded a little bit differently by each Gospel writer. Luke simply points out that they themselves had shown with their words that the Sanhedrin themselves believed that God has a Son by the question: “Are you the Son of God?” The article “the” is specific. They acknowledged that God has more than one person, that the Son and the Spirit of God are also equal with the Father. This was never questioned in the Old Testament or by the Jews of Jesus’ day. Lenski says: “They do not for a moment affirm that God has no such Son, that God is not three persons but only one person. The Jews are now Unitarians, but in Jesus’ time the Jews were not Unitarians” (Luke p. 1098).
There were so many witnesses to the divinity of Jesus! His miracles, his teaching, the Scriptures that testified about him. There was God’s voice which had declared: “This is my Son, whom I love” (Mark 9:7) and who spoke to Jesus aloud at his baptism (Mark 1:11) and again earlier this week in the temple (John 12:28). The preaching and confession of John the Baptist proclaimed Jesus as the Christ (Luke 3:15-18; John 1:29, 1:36). But the Sanhedrin didn’t believe any of it. Not John, not Jesus, not the evidence of the miracles, and not even the voice of God the Father. They rejected him, and now that wanted to get him out the door and to Pilate before the city woke up and found out what they were doing.
Pastor Timothy Smith