On Trial?

KEY VERSE: “The elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into their council, saying, Art thou the Christ? Tell us. And he said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe.” —Luke 22:66,67


JESUS knew this question was asked in derision and an answer would only bring mockery. Apparently his claim to Messiahship merely, in Jewish thinking, would not have involved any major crime against the Mosaic Law, Jewish theology, or even the civil authorities, so Jesus led them into a line of questioning that would give them better grounds for bringing charges against him. He replied, “Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God.”—vs. 69

Upon hearing this statement, his enemies were greatly aroused and pointedly asked him, “Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am.” These words in the estimation of the priests and scribes constituted a statement of blasphemy, and became the false charge upon which they based their demand for Jesus’ execution.

Paul speaks of the great contradiction of sinners against Jesus, and these contradictions can be seen in connection with the fact of his being the Son of God. (Heb. 12:3) This issue arose in Jesus’ life at the very beginning of his ministry. At the time of his consecration and baptism his Heavenly Father assured him of his sonship—“This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”—Matt. 3:17

But this blessed reality was not to go unchallenged. Forty days later, as Jesus came out of the wilderness following his long fast, he was tempted by Satan, who began his campaign of contradiction by raising the question of the Master’s sonship—“If thou be the Son of God.” This was suggesting to Jesus that it would be well for him to establish his claim of sonship. There was subtlety in this, for Satan doubtless knew that according to the Jewish viewpoint such a claim was considered to be blasphemy, and blasphemy was punishable by death.

Jesus knew this viewpoint of the Jews as well as Satan did, but he also was assured of his sonship, and would not tempt his Father by seeking additional proof. Besides, he knew that the principal feature of his ministry was to die for the sin of the world. Why should he then deny the great truth of his relationship to God in order to safeguard his life? Jesus resisted the tempter, but the campaign of contradiction was continued, and it comes to be very closely associated in our minds with the commemoration of his death. When he was brought before Israel’s high priest the religious rulers of the nation evidently planned to trap Jesus on the point of his claim to being the Son of God.

One of the methods by which the Heavenly Father furnishes strength to those who are faithful to him is by preparing them in advance for the trials which he knows they will experience. It was so with Jesus, and particularly in connection with this matter of his sonship. It was only a short time before this that the Heavenly Father had reassured him concerning it. This was on the Mount of Transfiguration. It was there the voice from heaven had said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” (Matt. 17:5) Undoubtedly Jesus heard these words as well as the disciples; and being such a short time prior to his appearance before the high priest, they would be very vividly remembered, hence when he was asked, “Art thou then the Son of God?” the Master was able with great fortitude to answer, “Thou hast said!”—Matt. 26:64

It required both faith and courage to reply in this direct, truthful manner. It required faith in the assuring words of the Heavenly Father, and courage to face the certainty of the death sentence which would be imposed on the strength of this confession of “guilt.” But Jesus passed the test, and became an example for us. We may never be called upon to give a testimony concerning the truth which will directly result in a death sentence. Nevertheless, in ways less dramatic there are issues which arise almost daily to test the sincerity of our consecration and that give us an opportunity to answer either in a way to avoid or to accept the privilege of sacrifice. The deciding factor in meeting every situation should be, What is the will of God? And such is not always the most pleasant for the flesh.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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