Luke 22:66-71 (NIV) At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. “If you are the Christ,” they said, “tell us.”
Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”
They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?”
He replied, “You are right in saying I am.”
Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”
Now that it was daylight, the Sanhedrin could legally meet to decide a capital case. Even though many of those present had been at the “hearing” at the high priest’s house during the night, where Jesus was found guilty in advance of His “official” trial, this trial still had to happen before charges could be brought before governor Pilate.
The Sanhedrin called witnesses, but they could not find any two whose testimony about Jesus’ words or deeds agreed closely enough for a conviction. Finally, in frustration more than out of legal correctness, the high priest (Mark 14:61) asked Jesus directly if He was in fact the Messiah.
Jesus was not going to answer that question directly. First, it would be playing directly into His accusers’ hands. Their view of what the Messiah was supposed to be, an earthly king of David’s line who would take over the throne and oust the Romans, was so far removed from the reality of who He actually was, that if he admitted to the title, they would only hear Him admitting to their picture of the title, not the reality. In addition, they had already rejected Him as their Messiah, so even if He had been what they believed the Messiah to be, they wouldn’t believe Him anyway.
But Jesus would own another title that the leaders were very familiar with: The Son of Man. This term comes from Daniel 7:13-14 and was widely interpreted as not only a term for the Messiah, but also someone who was more than a mere man – a “Son of God”, someone who was actually a personification of the Lord Himself.
The leaders sat bolt upright when Jesus claimed this title for Himself in the court. They apparently could not get Him to call Himself the Messiah, but if they could get Him to admit to being the Son of God just a little more clearly, they could claim blasphemy, a capital offense. So, they asked a direct question: “Are you then the Son of God?”
Jesus’ answer, “You are right in saying I am,” may seem a bit cagey in translation. But in Greek and Aramaic, it is actually a direct and forceful “yes,” much like the English, “You said it!”
That was all that the Sanhedrin needed. Jesus had admitted to being the Son of God, an equal to God Himself, which they considered blasphemy. And He had shown that He would not directly deny being the Messiah, the rightful Jewish king and therefore a direct rival to Caesar, which would enable them to charge Him with treason against the Emperor, a capital offense under Roman law.
Father, Jesus clearly shows that sometimes it is best to not debate with those who are persecuting us, trying to win the argument. It is better to not play the game when the cards are clearly stacked against us. Instead, we are to rely on Your Spirit to tell us what to say, and when, and even how to say it (Luke 21:12-15). That, of course, doesn’t mean that those words will get us out of any suffering or loss, but it does mean that the words that You give us will strike directly into the hearts of those who hear them, and will have great potential to convict any whose hearts are open to the truth, thus making any suffering that we endure fruitful for the kingdom. Help us, Lord, when the trials come, to put our full weight of trust in You. Amen.