Flashback Episode — The Second Trial: Luke 22:66-71

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When describing all that happened following Jesus’ arrest and leading up to the cross, all four gospels describe the details differently. Each gospel writer has the details in a unique, but similar order, and some events that are placed in different places in each gospel’s “order of events” may actually describe the same event.

While these discrepancies might be reasons for a skeptic to doubt, all this uniqueness in my own mind speaks to four independent investigators asking witnesses questions of a single event. It’s possible that the order of the details is different, and that makes piecing the timeline of the event together a little more difficult.

This brings us to our passage for this episode. Two weeks ago, we read Mark’s gospel, which described a trial Jesus faced at night. This trial had numerous false witnesses contradicting each other, and when it looked like the trial was about to fall apart, in almost desperation, the high priest challenges Jesus on His claim of being God’s Son.

However, in Luke’s gospel, the first trial we see take place is after Peter’s denial and it happens when morning came. Luke doesn’t describe any false witnesses, but he does draw our attention onto the direct challenge of the religious leaders that they use to condemn Jesus.

In my mind, as I piece the gospel record together, there were two trials. The one during the night was a practice trial to get information that these leaders could then challenge Jesus on during the official trial in the morning.

Let’s read about the morning trial that Luke describes. This event is found in Luke’s gospel, chapter 22, and we will read it from the God’s Word translation. Starting in verse 66, Luke tells us:

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.”

Let’s stop reading here because this marks the end of this trial. Following this, the religious leaders take Jesus to Pilate.

However, what I find interesting in Luke’s trial that makes me think this was a different trial than what Mark describes is that the religious leaders open with a direct question and Jesus responds with a similar, but distinctly different answer.

The religious leaders are working against the clock because they have the Passover to get ready for, and they want Jesus condemned to death as quickly as possible, since this is likely the only chance they feel they will get.

After fishing for information and for a charge to bring against Jesus during the time they had Him at night, the religious leaders settle on Jesus’ claim of divinity and His role as God’s Messiah. They take this information to the official trial that is first thing that morning.

In Luke’s official trial, I am amazed at Jesus’ response, especially after a passage we read earlier this year. In this response Jesus gives, I believe He directly references the question He asked the religious leaders that they could not answer.

Earlier that week, Jesus had presented a divine picture of the Messiah when He quoted David saying in the Psalms: “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Take the honored position—the one next to me [God the Father] on the heavenly throne until I put your enemies under your control.’(This event can be found in Luke’s gospel, chapter 20, verses 41-44.)

Now with that in mind, let’s read Jesus’ response again during Luke’s trial. Verses 67-69 tell us that Jesus responded by saying, “If I tell you, you won’t believe me. And if I ask you, you won’t answer.  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.

Do you see the similarities in these two verses?

Reading these two passages together gives me a picture of what Jesus is doing right now. Following Jesus’ return to Heaven, God the Father gives Him the honored position next to Him and Jesus is reigning in Heaven as the “Defeater of Sin and Death”. These two passages together describe the time we are currently living in, which is a time where Jesus is victorious but sin hasn’t yet been destroyed.

In this passage, we discover that Jesus not only responded strategically here, but He responded in the exact way that the religious leaders needed Him to respond to condemn Him to death.

Also, with this response, the religious leaders condemn themselves. Not only do they reject that Jesus is God’s Son, but they also reject Jesus as God’s Messiah, and they reject God Himself because they don’t believe Jesus fits their picture of God.

By rejecting both God the Father and Jesus as the Son and the Messiah, their judgment displays their allegiance to the powers of this world and not to the religion they claimed to follow. These religious leaders had taken their tradition and formed it into their religion in place of the religion God had given to Moses for the people.

It is no wonder the religious leaders rejected Jesus. Jesus came with an accurate picture of God that said every human being is a sinner who needs a Savior. While the religious leaders intellectually believed this, otherwise they would not have judged Jesus as a sinner, they disliked this truth being shared openly by an outsider.

It is the same way with us today. While it is not pleasant to see ourselves as sinners, that is who we are. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, we are victorious sinners who have had our sins washed away, but until Jesus returns to rid the world of sin, sin will always be something our lives are challenged with, and sin is always something that is included in our past.

This is the way God designed it to be, because if there was no sin in our past, not only would we be deceiving ourselves, but we also would be rejecting the need of a Savior to wash us clean. Jesus came to save sinners, and those who don’t see themselves as sinners needing a Savior won’t accept the gift that Jesus freely offers to those who place their faith in Him.

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

Always seek God first and place Him first in your life. Be sure to recognize that you are a sinner who needs a Savior and that your past needs Jesus’ sacrifice to cover it. Choose today to live a victorious life that doesn’t look like your sinful past, and choose to live each day moving forward for Jesus.

Also, always pray and study the Bible for yourself to grow closer to God and to Jesus each and every day. Through prayer and Bible study, you grow your personal relationship with God and through the personal relationship with God, you are able to discover and learn the truth that God wants to teach you. While others can give you ideas to think about, filter everything you learn through the truth of God’s Word.

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 abandon where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Year of the Cross – Episode 37: In the gospel of Luke, we read about a different trial Jesus faced that morning, and with the question the religious leaders ask Jesus during this trial, we see an amazing picture of who Jesus claimed to be, and what He is doing in Heaven right now!

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