Luke 22:63-71 “Son of God”
This morning I am going to share with you a little trick that I have come to rely on when dealing with customer service issues over the phone. We all know that when we call up the voice mail systems today generally give you the choice “For English press one or stay on the line, para espanol marca el numero dos.” One time just for fun, I hit the number two button to practice my Spanish. . When I heard a term that I did not understand in Spanish, the woman switched to English for me and had a much clearer English than what you get when you hit the “number 1” English choice. You see, the Spanish-speaking service reps all know English. From what I have experienced, their English is clearer than the English choice service reps! So, if you hit number one, your call is transferred to the Philippines or Pakistan. If you hit number 2 you get a service rep in Texas whose English is usually much clearer and who can actually call a boss over if needed to correct whatever issue.
I want to hit button number two with this text today. This text is so much clearer in Greek than in this translation! It is really hard to understand what is going on in English. We talked about this in Bible Study on Tuesday, how the English grammar gets in the way. When I did a word-for-word translation, it is like the lights came on in the room.
In Luke’s telling of this arrest, we see that Jesus is not taken to the civil authorities of the day. He is taken to the priest’s house. We know the priest’s name from the Gospel of John: that is Annas. There, other unnamed people begin to insult Jesus. We do not know who they are. They may have been priests, elders, temple guards, passers-by; and we will never know their names or interests in Jesus. Our translation says that they insulted Jesus. The actual word in the Greek is “blasphemed.” This implies that indeed they knew that Jesus was the Son of God. They knew that they were insulting God Almighty. I do not know how else to read this word “blaspheme” here.
Why do some people mock other people? I want to put it out there that this is a human response when you have no other legitimate way to counter somebody else. I always warn you when I go political, so here it comes: Today in politics we have a whole group of national leaders that seem to have no other valid response to political opponents than to mock them, call them names, and the like. They do this because they know their opponent is right and that there is no valid and logical response but to call them a silly name.
I honestly believe that those who were mocking Jesus because they had no real argument against his healing, feeding the five thousand, and walking on water. So, they blaspheme against the Son of God, knowing full well that he really is the Son of God.
While this is going on, they “tell him” to prophesy by stating who it is who is hitting him. Our translation says that they “asked” him to prophesy. No, they did not politely ask him to prophesy. That would be nice if they had. The word here in the Greek is “legein”; it means to tell or even command. This is the same word that Jesus uses in the Great Commandment to us “I tell you to love God and to love your neighbor” Matthew 22:37.
So, this group of people who are blindfolding him and hitting him, are commanding Jesus to say who they are! And, they know he is the Son of God. So, they must know that one day Jesus will be on the throne in heaven and will indeed name everyone who was hitting him on that day! Romans 12:19 “Vengeance is mine, I will repay says the Lord.”
You know, when I was a boy I got teased a lot. I look back at the now and can see the the kids that teased me were having fun with me because I was blind in one eye and had to wear glasses or an eye patch. I had no depth perception and could not catch a ball in midair. I had a weird name and trouble with learning English. Even as a young boy, I would pray to Jesus that I would not run into the bullies of my day in the halls or at recess. I know that this is going to sound funny, but even back then I was wondering how God in heaven was going to deal with these kids who would tease me. I seem to have been born with that “God will get you!” understanding of the bullies around me. I hold onto this ideal of divine justice one day reigning down over the world.
Back to our text, as the sun comes up the council, the Sanhedrin, is called to order. They had to wait until sun-up because to have tried Jesus at night would have broken the rules of shabbat. So, Jesus is already beaten and mocked, but NOW court comes into session! Crazy.
I already mentioned to you that Greek word “legein” is to tell or command. But, we see that in our English translation the word “to tell” is used again and again. For example, in verse 67 we read “if you are the messiah, tell us.” The word in the Greek is not “legein.” It is “eipein,” which is simply “to say.” Every place where we see the word “tell” here in the English it is actually the word “say.”
THEN, catch this meaning, please, the only place where the word “legein” “to tell” shows up is when Jesus is asked “Are you the Son of God?” Jesus responds with “legein,” “YOU tell me that I Am.” “You command me that I Am.” Also in the Greek is the emphatic “ego eime.” This is construed as the Name of God being spoken–the Great I AM. “You tell me to be God!”
By the way, in this line, you will see a question mark there. A vast majority of the ancient texts do not have a question mark there. Martin Luther’s translation put that in only about five hundred years ago. You are welcome to take that question mark out of verse 70 if you please. I think Martin Luther got it wrong–but who am I to argue with a dead man? (Question mark)
They know absolutely that Jesus is the Son of God. They tell Him that He is. WE have been talking about faith these last two Sundays. These pharisees and Sadducees know that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, the one sent by God to redeem the world; yet, they have not the faith.
Jesus knows this as well. Verse 68; Jesus says “If I question you, you will not answer.” The term here in the Greek for answer implies a positive response. Jesus knows that they know that He is the Son of God, but that they will not answer this positively. Think about this, Satan knows Jesus is the Son of God. Demons know that Jesus is the Son of God and are afraid. Luke 4:40-41, “As the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various kinds of diseases brought them to him; and he laid his hands on them and cured them. Demons also came out of many, shouting ‘You are the Son of God!’
So, we can know Jesus as the Son of God but still not have the faith to be able accept what that actually means for us in our lives that Jesus came to redeem us. But that is more for next week’s sermon.
As for the pharisees and Sadducees, this was their last chance to repent and enter the Kingdom of God. Instead they have henchmen put a blindfold on Jesus and slap him and mock him, telling him to prophesy! They yell to him, “Tell us who is hitting you!” Jesus knows exactly who is hitting him! He is about to shed his earthly body and head up to heaven—there he will recall the name of those who knew he was the Son of God but sent Him to die anyway.
Those guys who did that to Jesus are going to need his grace probably more than anyone here today! Jesus is going to be on his throne opening up the book of life for each one of those priests and elders. You can read this in Revelation 20. I really do not know what Jesus has said to them. Their fate is really in his hands.
The last line of the text for today: “What further martyr do we need?” Yes, it says “testimony,” but the word is “martyr.” That is all they ever wanted from Jesus was a martyr. Fortunately for Christ’s disciples, they feel that martyring Jesus is enough for this day. “We do not need any other martyr!” Really a strange thing to say!
“WE have heard this from his own mouth hole.” That is again the Greek–not “lips.” The idea is more that what is inside of Jesus has come out of the stomach and up again for the world to see. If you remember in the story of Jonah how the big fish vomits him back up on the beach in Joppa so that he can continue his mission to Nineveh? This is kind of the same idea!
Since we have hit button number two on this voice mail system with God, one thing really is clear: Nowhere in this text is there even a question that Jesus is the Son of God. Those who arrested him, those who blasphemed him mockingly, those who tell him that he is the Son of God all knew who he was. And, Jesus knows who they were! They did not have the faith to accept in their hearts their own salvation when they needed it most.