Luke 22: 66-71 – Jewish Trial of Jesus

Finally the Jewish trial begins. According to gospel of Luke, the meeting of the Sanhedrin took place in the morning, and the examination of Jesus by the Jewish Council was rather brief. In the Lukan account no witnesses are introduced and no accusation is brought up against Jesus concerning the destruction of the Temple (cf. Mk 14: 55-60). Gospel of Luke concentrates his attention on the person of Jesus and his role and the interrogation concerns Jesus’ Messiahship and his divine Sonship. Again, the Lukan narrative contains neither the charge of blasphemy nor any verdict of the Sanhedrin (cf. Mk 14: 63-64).

Jesus is questions about his Messiahship and his divine Sonship. In fact the question is doubled in gospel of Mark (but cf. Mk 16: 61): “Are you the Messiah?” (Lk 22: 67) and “Are you the Son of God then?” (Lk 22: 70). Jesus does not answer these questions directly and clearly unlike in gospel of Mark (Mk 14: 62). To the first question “Are you the Christ?” Jesus refuses to give a direct answer because he knew the uselessness of a direct answer. The words of Jesus, “if I tell you, you will not believe…” (Lk 22: 67-68) show his knowledge of the hearts of the authorities who are opposed to him. And yet Jesus affirms something indirectly about his destiny as the Son of Man (Lk 22: 69). The saying of Jesus in Luke 22: 69 contains an allusion to two Messianic texts of the Old Testament (Dan 7: 13; Ps 110: 1). The tiles “Son of Man,” which is Jesus’ own self designation in the gospels, comes from Daniel 7: 13, and it is used here in Luke 22: 69. Gospel of Luke omits the “coming with the clouds of heaven” (Dan 7: 13; Mk 14: 62) and retains only the title. The expression, “sitting at the right hand of God” implies sharing in the power of God. Thus the saying on the lips of Jesus implies his victorious reign and his investiture with the power of God. For Luke this victorious reign of the Messiah is to start “from now.” The expression “now” or “today” is typically Lukan and it denotes the present time – the time of Jesus- as a time of salvation (cf. Lk 4: 21; 5: 10; 12: 52; 19: 9 etc). The expression in Luke 22: 69 seems to imply the victorious reign of Jesus as being introduced by the events of his passion, resurrection, and ascension.

The second question of the Sanhedrin (Lk 22: 70) is about Jesus’ divine Sonship: “Are you the Son of God, then?” By presenting a two-fold question gospel of Luke distinguishes between Messianism and divine Sonship. In his answer Jesus neither fully denies nor fully affirms his divine Sonship. But it is more an affirmative than a negative answer. The answer “you say that I am” is not to be understood with emphasis on “you,” meaning: “you say but not I”! At any rate the Jewish authorities understood Jesus’ answer as an affirmation of his divine Sonship. Yet the Sanhedrin does not term it as blasphemy or pass any condemnatory verdict as a result (but cf. Mk 14: 63-64). The authorities do not require further evidence against Jesus. They decided that what they have heard from Jesus himself is sufficient (for them to hand him over to the Roman Governor).

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