Flashback Episode — Being a Son of God: Luke 22:66-71

Read the Transcript

On the morning of Jesus’ crucifixion, the gospel of Luke includes a profound series of statements that the religious leaders use to build their case against Jesus. Taken on their own, what Jesus shares in response to the religious leader’s demands is simply countercultural. But when we look at an earlier portion of Luke’s gospel, we see the most rational grounds for who Jesus claimed to be, and in this claim, as well as in the religious leaders’ reaction, we see how far from God’s plan these spiritual leaders had fallen.

Let’s read how Luke describes this event, from the gospel letter that is named after him, using the God’s Word translation. Reading from chapter 22, starting in verse 66, Luke tells us that:

66 In the morning the council of the people’s leaders, the chief priests and the experts in Moses’ Teachings, gathered together. They brought Jesus in front of their highest court and asked him, 67 “Tell us, are you the Messiah?”

Jesus said to them, “If I tell you, you won’t believe me. 68 And if I ask you, you won’t answer. 69 But from now on, the Son of Man will be in the honored position—the one next to God the Father on the heavenly throne.”

70 Then all of them said, “So you’re the Son of God?”

Jesus answered them, “You’re right to say that I am.”

71 Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We’ve heard him say it ourselves.”

The religious leaders in this passage build the case for Jesus’ execution on the idea that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. This claim comes immediately after Jesus side-steps the question about whether He is the Messiah that the Jews were expecting.

On the surface, the Messiah question was a much simpler question to answer, except that Jesus knows that they have a narrow view of their Messiah, and Jesus knew that their narrow view had drifted away from what God had prophesied throughout history.

Jesus knows that these leaders are only interested in building a case for His death, and they are not interested in a discussion or a debate, so Jesus gives them something they can build their case on – except that it is one of the weakest foundations for them to stand on.

While the Old Testament law held the death sentence for people who committed blasphemy, the religious leaders had over-extended the definition of what blasphemy actually was. While claiming equality or superiority to God is breaking laws regarding blasphemy, as we will soon see in Luke’s gospel, claiming to be a son of God is completely valid for someone – really anyone to do.

Throughout Jesus’ ministry, He seemed to gravitate towards the self-descriptive name “son of man” which echo’s back to a prophecy from the book of Daniel. While technically, Joseph was not Jesus’ biological father, it is likely Jesus used this name in a more general sense to describe Himself as a “Son of humanity”.

The reason that these leaders frowned upon the idea of Jesus being God’s Son is that it appeared as though He was elevating Himself into being equal with God – which is wrong for a sinner to do. However, if we look at the last verse in Luke chapter 3, we see that at the very end of Luke’s version of Jesus’ genealogy, Luke tells us that Adam, the first human, was “the son of God”.

Here at the beginning of Luke’s description of Jesus’ adult life, we see a solid, rational case for Jesus being God’s Son because everyone who has ever lived is technically a child of God. Everyone alive at any point in history has breath because God gave it to them, and regardless of whether they use their breath of life to give God glory or to curse God to His face, their existence is directly connected to a gift from God.

The religious leaders’ foundation for Jesus’ crucifixion, which was them putting words in His mouth about being a Son of God is the weakest foundation for them to stand on. They would have a better case standing on what Jesus had just said in verse 69 when He tells them that, “From now on, the Son of Man will be in the honored position—the one next to God the Father on the heavenly throne.

This statement, which cannot actually be validated in this life, could only be spoken by someone who is delusional, or by someone who actually lived their life so close to God that God would choose them for the honored position at His side. This statement is one that challenged the religious leaders at their core, because not only was a human unworthy to be even considered honored before God, it would be prideful for someone to place themselves in this position on their own merit.

In this passage, Jesus uses the term Son of Man in His response to the religious leaders, and they shift His words in their reply to Son of God. If Jesus was to avoid lying to the leaders, there was no way around admitting to being God’s Son because of how Luke described Jesus’ ancestry.

By building the case against Jesus on the grounds of being God’s Son, and not on the statement that Jesus would be honored by God, the religious leaders unknowingly set themselves up to be on the side that is against God.

They build their case on the grounds that Jesus was merely a human, and not that Jesus was ungodly. They incriminate themselves with their argument and reveal how un-Godlike they really were by rejecting and condemning a person who was clearly helping people in God’s name. Even if Jesus was not directly God’s Son in a first-generation sense, He was the most God-like person living in that culture during the first century, and that in itself builds a solid case for God adopting Jesus as His Son.

No way one looks at this event do the religious leaders come out appearing positive or justified. Instead, their accusation and the foundation they build their case on is the weakest one available – but they pick it because they are blinded by their hatred of Jesus. The leaders latch onto whatever they can easily take a hold of because they want to see Jesus killed.

Which leaves the question in my mind: If Jesus knew that they would use this response against Him as the foundation for His death, why would He still say it?

Critics might argue that Jesus had no way out of this scenario, but all Jesus would have needed to do is simply answer in the same way that He answered before, by stating that they would not believe His response, even if He told them an answer.

Jesus instead chose His words carefully because He knew His path included the cross. Jesus was willing to face death in order to open up a way for new life for each of us. While the religious leaders chose a weak foundation for their case against Jesus, Jesus chose death because He knew His death was much more significant from the perspective of eternity. Jesus’ death opens the way for all of God’s people to experience eternity.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

As I always challenge you to do, intentionally seek God first and make Him the most important focus of your life. Regardless of what others might think or believe, think of yourself as a child of God, if for no other reason than God is responsible for there being life in your body. Because God has given you breath, know that He wants to adopt you into His very literal and spiritual family that will be rewarded with eternity.

Also, pray and study the Bible for yourself to learn, grow, and know God better. Prayerfully study and ask God to teach you what He wants you to learn. While a pastor or podcaster such as myself can give you ideas and insights from what we have learned, God wants your relationship with Him to be personal and not dependant on any third-party intermediary.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or give up on where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Year 3 – Episode 46: Early in the morning on the day Jesus was crucified, the religious leaders pull Him in to a trial in order to condemn Him to death. In this trial, discover what Jesus claims and how they build their case against Jesus in order to justify His death.

Join the discussion on the original episode's page: Click Here.