Prophet, Messiah, Son of Man, Son of God – I AM
63 Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat Him. 64 They also blindfolded Him and kept asking Him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck You?” 65 And they said many other things against Him, blaspheming Him. 66 When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes. And they led Him away to their council, and they said, 67 “If You are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, 68 and if I ask you, you will not answer. 69 But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” 70 So they all said, “Are You the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I AM.” 71 Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from His own lips.”
The first trial begins with an introduction that provides the hearer with the time of the trial—dawn; the participants in the trial—the Sanhedrin; and the place of the trial—the council chamber of the Sanhedrin. This is the only reference to the Sanhedrin in Luke. Only Luke has the, “council of the elders, Sanhedrin,” and describes it as composed of both chief priests and scribes. These groups represent the two main Jewish parties, the Sadducees and the Pharisees, respectively. Jesus appears here before a full representation of Israel. The same people responsible for the mocking and beating of Jesus will now question him. But the purpose of this account is not to describe the workings of the legal system of Israel, but to present further evidence for the second phase of Luke’s prophet Christology: rejection. Because of their unbelief, their verdict is a foregone conclusion, but they must convince the Roman authorities that Jesus is guilty of some crime that threatens to disrupt the social order imposed by the Romans. While the Sanhedrin desired the death penalty for Jesus, only the Roman authorities had the power to implement it. It seems evident that the Sanhedrin was so intent on doing away with Jesus that it may well have disregarded some Jewish laws in order to pursue its purpose.
Just, A. A., Jr. (1997). Luke 9:51–24:53 (p. 881, 884). St. Louis: CPH.
Hidden within this mock trial lies the power and presence of God Himself. There are no less than four names for Jesus as True God within these few verses. The “powers that be”, the Sanhedrin, believe they now have Jesus right where they want Him and also erroneously believe they are in full command of the situation – finally.
The mocking begins with those who hold Jesus – the guards of the Temple. They begin the beating and the abuse before the trials even begin. This is telling in and of itself, as only the guilty were beaten. But they also command Jesus to “prophesy”. This command indicates the role of Prophet for Jesus. Indeed He is a Prophet and they might have been surprised had He actually spoken what He knew of them. Then, Jesus is led before the Sanhedrin (made up of Pharisees and Sadducees) and the titles “Messiah (the Christ)”, “Son of God”, and “Son of Man” are all used in the discussion of Jesus’ identity. The conversation culminates in “I AM”; the ultimate claim of Deity. Jesus’ entire life points to the fact that He is indeed Divine and the promised Messiah. The only reason they don’t believe Him is because they don’t want to and therein lays the true problem. This isn’t about the truth of Jesus’ claims but about their rejection.
I confess that whenever I see those words “I AM” used on the lips of Christ a thrill of awe flows through me. Here is God incarnate, come to earth to spread His message of love and salvation. Of course it was God’s plan that He die a horrible death because we have no other way to be restored to His side. But that reminder of just exactly who He is always brings a thrill of joy and praise.