1 When daybreak came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put Him to death.
1 As soon as it was morning, the chief priests had a meeting with the elders, scribes, and the whole Sanhedrin.
66 When daylight came, the elders of the people, both the chief priests and the scribes, convened and brought Him before their Sanhedrin. 67 They said, “If You are the Messiah, tell us.” But He said to them, “If I do 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 will be seated at the right hand of the Power of God.” 70 They all asked, “Are You, then, the Son of God?” And He said to them, “You say that I am.” 71 “Why do we need any more testimony,” they said, “since we’ve heard it ourselves from His mouth?”
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
They said, “If You are the Messiah, tell us.”
But He said to them, “If I do tell you, you will not believe.”
Think back to a time in your life when you experienced something so out of the ordinary and so incredible that you couldn’t wait to tell someone about it. So you took out your phone and sent a text to your best friend that said something like this, “You’re not going to believe what just happened to me!”
You know you’re just whetting their appetite and that soon enough they will be calling you to discuss the incredible news. In all the times I’ve done this, I’ve never been doubted by the person I’m telling the story to. This is largely due to the depth of my relationship with the individual. If I tried the same tactic on a complete stranger, then my credibility might, and probably should, be in question.
A similar situation unfolds before us in today’s readings. Matthew and Mark tell us that the chief priests plotted to put Jesus to death, but Luke gives us a fuller description of the situation. It’s in Luke’s account that we see the brief exchange between Jesus and the religious authorities.
Always able to discern the hearts of men, Jesus cuts right through all the chatter and exposes the real issue at hand. The priests quite clearly didn’t want to believe Jesus was the Messiah, so their question was asked as a trap, not as a way to gain knowledge of the truth. When Jesus tells them they wouldn’t believe even if He did tell them, He’s exactly right.
Now back to our opening story. These people weren’t strangers to Jesus. This scene didn’t unfold in Turkey, Greece, or Egypt. No, it unfolded right in the heart of Jewish religion, right in the middle of the piece of land God had promised them through Moses.
Jesus’ teachings and miracles were in full view of the religious authorities. They had absolutely no reason to doubt the credibility of Jesus’ testimony about Himself because they were intimately acquainted with His life. If that weren’t the case, we might cut them a little slack. But the chilling truth is they bore witness to all Jesus did and yet didn’t receive Him as their Messiah.
We’re rightfully harsh in our judgment of these religious rulers. But before we move further, could it be that we’re guilty of the same thing? How often do we want God to do a mighty work in our own lives or in our church, all the while neglecting all He’s done throughout human history? In fact, we don’t even have to look hard to find these wonderful events because God has graciously given them to us in His Word.
Think about the instructions concerning the celebration of Passover found in Exodus 13:14, “In the future, when your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ Say to him, ‘By the strength of His hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.’”
Early in the life of the people of Israel, God instructed them to pass down the truth and to never forget what He did for them. We, like those priests in Jesus’ day, are all too often prone to forget what God has done for us.
In fact, here’s the startling reality: if God never did another thing for us besides sacrifice His Son for our salvation, He’d still be good! In other words, He owes us nothing, and even the gift of salvation is a sign of God’s unmerited favor towards His creation. Therefore, we need to focus less on what God doesn’t do for us and more on what He’s already done for us.
As you ponder the willful blindness of those priests 2,000 years ago, reflect on your own areas of spiritual blindness and ask God to remind you of the many ways in which He has taken care of you over the course of your life.
- Today’s text is related to Luke 16:19-31 in that, we see a similar issue concerning disbelief. What does the Abraham’s answer to the man in Hades say about the importance of the Old Testament in pointing to the Messiah?
- What do you think prevented the priests from recognizing the true identity of Jesus?
- In your own life, what things cause you to doubt God’s truthfulness or character? In what ways are you prone to forget what He has done for you?