Luke 22: 63 – 71 The guards mock Jesus & Jesus before Pilate and Herod

Luke 22: 63 – 71 The guards mock Jesus & Jesus before Pilate and Herod

The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. They blindfolded him and demanded, ‘Prophesy! Who hit you?’ And they said many other insulting things to him.

At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and the teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. ‘If you are the Messiah,’ they said, ‘tell us.’

Jesus answered, ‘If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.’

They all asked, ‘Are you then the Son of God?’

He replied, ‘You say that I am.’

Then they said, ‘Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.’

*       *       *

St Luke’s account of Jesus’ ‘trial’ before the Sanhedrin is much less detailed than the other synoptic gospels. Nevertheless, he makes it perfectly clear what’s going on.

Jesus is tortured by the men guarding him. They blindfold him, beat him, and mock him in a way designed to undermine his identity; ‘Prophesy! Who hit you?’ they demanded. Being hit repeatedly is both painful and disorienting. When you’re blindfolded and can’t see when the next blow is coming, it must be worse. It leaves you feeling sick and shaken, in no condition to resist difficult questions.

When it comes to his interrogation by the chief priests and teachers of the law, though, Jesus is very clear.

‘If you are the Messiah,’ they said, ‘tell us.’

This is the key question.

Jesus answers ‘If I tell you, you will not believe me,’

If Jesus had said, “Yes, I’m the Messiah”, the chief priests and teachers of the law must either dismiss the answer as a lie, or accept it and follow Jesus. There really is no half-way house. Jesus knows that confronted with such a stark choice his opponents will tell him he’s lying.

‘and if I asked you, you would not answer.’

If Jesus had pressed his opponents to answer their own question, they would have remained silent. Jesus had been teaching in Jerusalem for months. He had performed many healings. He had performed miracles. If his opponents had looked at the evidence, they would have found that Jesus fulfilled the scriptural prophecies for the Messiah. (Read Luke 7: 18 – 23)

The chief priests and teachers of the law did not look for evidence, because they were unwilling to accept the consequences. They did not want to follow Jesus.

Jesus now tells his opponents obliquely who he is, by using the title ‘Son of Man’.

But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.’

The chief priests and teachers of the law scent a kill.

They all asked, ‘Are you then the Son of God?’

And Jesus replies ‘You say that I am.’

That is enough for the assembled leaders of Israel to condemn him. Jesus seems to have claimed to be the Son of God, and that, to them, is blasphemy.

Then they said, ‘Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.’

*       *       *

The words of Jesus show how the leaders wilfully refuse to believe in him; their actions are plainly evil. However, what about the men who were guarding Jesus; the men who were beating him? We can make some excuses for them. They were under orders. They were taking their lead from their rulers. But the fact is that their actions involved torturing Jesus, and led ultimately to his death on a Roman cross.

One of the consequences of original sin is that it is built into society. Our power structures are all flawed, and rely on force. The prosperity of the western world rests to a considerable extent on the exploitation of poorer nations. The prosperity of the elite in any country depends on the exploitation of the poor in that society.

One concrete example of this is the way the UK government supplies weapons to Saudi Arabia. These aircraft and bombs earn a great deal of money for the country, which funds, for example, our pensions. And these weapons are not used to defend Saudi territory, rather they are used in Yemen, where they kill terrorists, and school children, and nursing mothers and wedding parties. My comfortable life is partly paid for by the suffering of Yemeni citizens.

Shall we shut our eyes, like the chief priests and teachers of the law did?

Are we complicit with murder by investing in companies that flout human rights? Are we like the men guarding Jesus, prepared to duck responsibility and accept without question what our leaders tell us?

Whose side are we on?

Prayer

Heavenly Father

Please help us, insofar as we are able, to work for a world with more justice and more love.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Published by pennygadd51

I write. I've written many pieces of flash fiction, dozens of short stories and two novels, with a third in progress.

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