WHO WAS ON TRIAL?
“When it was morning, the religious leaders of the people and the high priests and scholars all got together and brought Him before their High Council. They said, ‘Are you the Messiah?’
“He answered, ‘If I said yes, you wouldn’t believe me. If I asked you what you meant by your question, you wouldn’t answer me. So here’s what I have to say: From here on the Son of Man takes His place at God’s right hand, the place of power.’
“They all said, ‘So you admit your claim to be the Son of God?’
‘”You’re the ones who keep saying it,’ He said.
“But they had made up their minds. ‘Why do we need any more evidence? We’ve all heard Him as good as say it Himself.’ Luke 22:66-71 (The Message).
This has to be the strangest court case in history! Jesus was the prisoner and yet His subtle answer to their question and their attempt to force Him into incriminating Himself, exposed their guilt, not His. Their charge, punishable by death according to their religious law, was blasphemy. For them His guilt was cut and dried, if they could get Him to make a confession. ‘If you are claiming to be the Son of God, say it.’
The only witnesses they could produce contradicted one another and, according to Mark’s account, brought an accusation so feeble that their testimony was dismissed. All they could bank on was that Jesus would admit guilt to their charge by His own confession.
His counter charge was: ‘If I am not the Son of God, prove it.’ As the members of the High Council, it was their duty to uphold justice and to do this, they had to provide evidence to support their charge, but they could not produce at least two reliable witnesses.
Jesus turned the tables on them by His reply to their question. ‘If I said yes, you would not believe me. If I asked what you meant by your question, you would not answer me.’ He dug underneath their hypocritical “justice”, exposed their motive and revealed their wicked hearts. They were not after the truth. They were after an excuse to condemn Him.
Instead of giving them a direct answer, He made a statement which they were forced to weigh up for themselves. Their response would be the verdict on themselves, guilty or not guilty. Their refusal to drop the case drove them deeper into guilt and His resurrection three days later finally sealed their doom.
Once before, they were caught in the same dilemma when they came to Him with a trick question, ‘Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar?’ His answer took them by surprise. They were expecting Him to get Himself into trouble either with Jewish or Roman authorities. Instead, He put them in their place by reminding them of both their civil and religious responsibilities. “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” Luke 20:25b (NIV).
Motive and responsibility – Jesus was big on both these issues. Why we do things is just as important as what we do. Taking responsibility for what we do and why we do what we do is the essence of maturity. Adam and Eve tried to play the “blame game” but it did not work with God. Man has been doing the same thing ever since and it still doesn’t work.
Even though Jesus was found guilty, condemned and crucified, He was the judge in the end, and His accusers the condemned. Yes, Jesus was guilty as charged, guilty of being who He said He was, the Christ, the Son of the living God, and He not only claimed it, He proved it by rising from the dead.
Those who tried and condemned Him were the guilty ones, guilty of prejudice, injustice and treason because they betrayed the God they claimed to serve and condemned to death the Son of God because they refused to recognise and believe in Him.
Since the resurrection proved, once for all, that Jesus is who He says He is, we are driven to respond to Him, either to bow to Him as Lord, or to reject Him and sea lour fate with those who forfeit the right to share in His kingdom forever.