October 17, 2013
Dear brothers and sisters,
I am taking the good news today from Luke 22:63-71.
The men who held Jesus in custody were ridiculing him and beating him. They blindfolded him and questioned him, saying, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” And they reviled him in saying many other things against him. When day came the council of elders of the people met, both chief priests and scribes, and they brought him before their Sanhedrin. They said, “If you are the Messiah, tell us,” but he replied to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I question, you will not respond. But from this time on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?” He replied to them, “You say that I am.” Then they said, “What further need have we for testimony? We have heard it from his own mouth.”
Luke’s account of the mocking and questioning of Jesus is considerably different that either Mark’s or Matthew’s. It’s shorter, for one thing. It’s not that details are missing or different that is significant; it’s the emphasis and message that have a distinctly different nuance and impact. I’m not going to go into a long explanation, but I encourage you to read one of the commentaries particularly Johnson’s The Gospel of Luke.
The members of the Sanhedrin had their minds made up before Jesus was brought before them. Indeed, they had been looking for a reason to charge him and an occasion to arrest him for some time. Jesus called it to their attention in telling them that they would not believe what he said or answer his questions honestly. They didn’t listen to his responses; they read into his answer about the Son of Man being seated at the right hand of God that he was claiming to be the Son of God. Jesus wasn’t going to let them off so easily.
It’s the hardest thing in the world for me to listen to someone I have already judged or labeled or who is in opposition to what I think or want. They are obstructions to achieving my own will or confirming my own beliefs, why would I want to question myself? What need do I have for that? My focus is on articulating or defending what I think, to prosecute my own will, not on opening myself to other considerations. That only complicates things, slows things down, and possibly derails my plans.
Just like the members of the Sanhedrin that day in Jerusalem. Jesus tried one last time to get through to them, to see their own wilfulness in repeating the history of Israel in rejecting and often murdering God’s prophets because they didn’t want to hear the word of God. They only wanted to hear their own voices.
Jesus always claimed only to be the Son of Man, the universal man, the universal child of God. He wanted every person to identify with him and to emulate his love of and communion with God, his Father. The Jewish authorities, the rich and powerful, were blind to this universality. They only wanted to condemn what they were not willing to accept. So it is with me often; I only want to condemn not accept. Jesus wants me to see others as also children of God and wants me to believe it and live it. He wants me not to ask about other people, “Are you the child, the son or daughter, of God?”, leaving me to wonder and look for ways to answer negatively. He wants me instead to state with conviction, “You are the child of God.” That’s the conversion of my heart that Jesus is calling me to.