|CLICK HERE TO PRINT!||[CLOSE WINDOW]|
Feast of unleavened bread ... the Passover ...
The Passover, as used here, means either the meal, the feast day, or the whole period of time. "Eat the passover" refers to the meal, as here, or to the whole period of celebration in John 18:28. F1
Furthermore, "the feast of unleavened bread" was used in several senses:
The feast of unleavened bread was the day the Passover lamb was slain. According to Mosaic law, this was called the Passover and was followed by seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:5,6). But at this time the whole period was known by this name. Josephus says: "We keep a feast for eight days, which is called the feast of unleavened bread." F2
Gilmour, referring to the latter seven days of the feast said:
The feast of unleavened bread at sundown on Nisan 14 (which was) the beginning of the fifteenth day by Jewish reckoning, and lasted for a period of seven days (Leviticus 23:5,6). The Passover coincided only with its first day. The Paschal lambs were slaughtered on the afternoon of Nisan 14, and the solemn meal itself was eaten during the evening that constituted the beginning of the fifteenth day. F3
The following chronological arrangement of the events of this exceedingly important week is adapted from J. R. Dummelow, with the changes required by understanding the crucifixion to have been on the 14th of Nisan, the same day the Paschal lambs were slain, and the same day when the Passover meal was eaten after sundown (technically the fifteenth of Nisan), that fourteenth of Nisan having been a Thursday. See my article, "What Day Was Jesus Crucified?" in my Commentary on Mark, under Mark 15:42.
The paschal lambs were being sacrificed at this hour (John 19:36). Jesus was buried about sundown. That night was the Jewish Passover meal, Jesus having eaten it by anticipation 24 hours earlier. Burial of Jesus (Matthew 27:57).
In the above understanding of the day our Lord was crucified, it is not necessary to suppose Wednesday as having been "a day of retirement," F5 or that Wednesday, a day of rest, was apparently spent with the disciples at Bethany." F6 The New Testament says nothing of any day of rest or retirement; but, on the contrary, it is repeatedly stated that he was "daily in the temple" (Luke 22:53). "Every day he was teaching in the temple" (Luke 21:87); and there is no way such expressions can mean that Jesus ran off and hid for a whole day.
The following diagram will reveal the reason why "the third day" is frequently used by sacred authors to designate the day our Lord rose from the dead. Jesus' own promise that he would be in the heart of the earth "three days and three nights" (Matthew 12:40) could not have been fulfilled in its entirety except by his resurrection at sunset on Sunday, which would have given three full days and three full nights in the grave; however, Jesus said that he would rise "the third day," meaning that he would not be in the grave but two days. Now look at the chart. He was buried at sunset on Thursday and rose very early on Sunday, the first day of the week.
|Thursday Night||Friday Night||Saturday Night||Sunday|
|period in the tomb ->||1st day||2nd day||3rd day begins|
The arguments in favor of viewing Friday as the day our Lord suffered have been thoroughly studied by this writer; and there seems to be no way that they can harmonize with "what is written" in the word of God. We believe that Jesus was in the heart of the earth "three days and three nights," rising on the third day.
Sought how they might put him to death ...
The death of Jesus had long ago been determined by the hierarchy, and the thing in view here was merely the manner of their bringing it about. From Matt. 26:1-5 it is learned that they actually preferred to kill him secretly, because of their fear of the people, as mentioned here. However, the treachery of Judas induced them to change their plans.
What probably triggered Judas' treachery was the rebuke administered to him by the Lord during the incident of the anointing in the house of Simon the leper (Matthew 26:6ff).
With Judas on their side, as they supposed, the chief priests then thought that they would procure ample evidence to warrant a public trial and judicial execution. As it turned out, Judas returned the money in bitterness and remorse, refusing to have any further part with the religious leaders; but it was too late for them, as well as for Judas. The whole shameful episode would be spread upon the public record of the ages.
This "day of unleavened bread" was Nisan 13th; and the preparations here mentioned took place in the afternoon, just prior to the beginning of Nissan 14th, at sunset. The supper was held after sundown and technically on the 14th by Jewish reckoning.
It is not actually the Passover meal that Jesus ate, but a similar meal in anticipation of it. Jesus was on the cross when the paschal lambs were slain, and in his tomb when Israel ate the Passover the following night (see under John 18:28; 18:28 in my Commentary on ).
Harrison saw in this the likelihood that Jesus had "made previous arrangements for a contact by means of a secret signal," F7 but such a view is refuted by a circumstance noted by Bliss. He said:
There was a custom that the head of each family should bring water from a certain spring, which was to wet up the unleavened bread for the Passover. But this man was not head of the house; nor does it appear how, among the thousands that would be carrying water at the same time, that the incident could have served as a sign. F8
If Bliss' reckoning of this occasion of the last supper as the Passover should be allowed, then it would nullify, absolutely the kind of sign Jesus mentioned, because tens of thousands would have been doing the same thing. Obviously, this was not the Passover evening. This leaves the alternative that a servant was carrying the pitcher of water in a certain direction at a certain time of day, and that his master was one who honored the Teacher and would provide the guest-chamber. The answer to this is not some "secret-signal," set up by Jesus in advance, but the omniscience of the Lord.
Mark 14:12-17 is parallel to this portion of Luke, and more extended remarks on this passage will be found in my Commentary on Mark under those references.
I shall not eat it ...
Brook and Burkitt (Journal of Theological Studies, July, 1908, pp. 569ff) have maintained, and others have oft-repeated it since, that these words indicate that the Saviour did not celebrate the Passover and only had a strong desire to do so. F9
Of course, this is not the Passover; and the opinions of Brook and Burkitt were correct. Jesus here spoke of the Passover which would be eaten the following night at a time when he was in the tomb. This is another roadblock to the Friday crucifixion theory. It is most likely, however, in view of what Luke immediately stated, that this meal was very similar to the Passover, in fact following the pattern closely, and yet not actually the Passover because it was a day earlier. For cause, such arrangements were allowed.
The cup here in view was not the cup of the Lord's Supper, but the cup of the simulated Jewish Passover, being observed by Jesus' disciples a day earlier than the stated time, but which Jesus did not observe. This understanding is clear from the following summary of the pattern for the Passover meal, described by Farrar:
Now it was after this supper that the Lord instituted the Lord's Supper. "After supper" is specifically designated as the time (1 Corinthians 11:25). No lamb of any kind was in evidence at this supper.
The cup in view in this verse was connected with the simulated passover and not the Lord's Supper. As John Wesley put it:
"And he took the cup -" the cup that was used to be brought at the beginning of the paschal solemnity. "And said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves; for I will not drink ..." As if he had said, Do not expect me to drink it: I will drink no more before I die. F11
This was the beginning of the institution of the Lord's Supper, the same being after the last meal they had just shared was concluded, placing it after (8) and before (9) in the above pattern.
For full comment on "transubstantiation" and other questions, see parallel with comments in my Commentary on Matthew. Here the eternal commandment of remembering the Saviour was uttered. The vast difference in Judaism and Christianity is in this very thing. Under the Law of Moses, there was a "remembrance" made of sin upon every solemn occasion of worship, even upon the day of Atonement; but in Christianity, there is no more a remembrance of sin, but of the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world. See elaboration of this in my Commentary on Hebrews, Heb. 10:3-4.
In like manner after supper ...
means that the cup, just like the bread, that is BOTH ELEMENTS of the Lord's Supper, were taken AFTER SUPPER. It is regrettable that some have failed to make the distinction noted here, even going so far as to suppose that the cup may precede in observing the Supper; but a true understanding of what is here stated refutes such error.
Which is poured out for you ...
What a glimpse of the power and Godhead of Jesus is in this. In a few short hours, he would be arrested, and on the morrow he would be crucified; but here, he calmly announced that his blood was to be poured out for the sins of men, setting up a memorial of it unto all generations. Evidently, the reason for Luke's introduction of that first cup of the simulated passover into the record here was for the purpose of dissociating the two events.
Parallel references on Luke 22:18-20 are Matthew 26:26-28 and Mark 14:22-24, which see, along with comments, in my Commentary on Matthew and my Commentary on Mark.
This passage has parallels in John 13:21-30, Matthew 26:21-25, and Mark 14:18-21, which see, along with comments in my Commentary on Matthew, my Commentary on Mark, and my Commentary on John.
The hand of him that betrayeth me ...
As Dummelow observed, "This verse is a strong support of the view that Judas received the sacrament, but it is not conclusive. See John 13:30." F12
The measure of agreement between Matt. 20:25-28, Mark 10:42-45 and this paragraph in Luke, is no proof that Luke describes the same occurrence as Matthew and Mark. Such disputes frequently occurred, and why could not the Saviour have answered their arguments in words more or less similar? F13
What a shame it was that in the very act of the Lord's giving the memorial supper, the apostles should still have been concerned over places of rank in the kingdom!
The kings of the Gentiles ...
Here, just as in the similar passages from Matthew and Mark, cited above, the Lord was condemning the pyramidal type of government so characteristic of all nations. He forbade such systems in his kingdom.
This was "a title carried by the Greek kings of Egypt and Syria," F14 which was about as incongruous a designation as could be imagined. In all ages, usurpers have loved to call themselves by titles which denied their essential character; nor has the device perished from the earth. Are not such titles as Innocent, Pius, and Boniface exactly of the same quality?
This is the prohibition of such tiers of rank and authority as those in vogue among earthly governments. "Ye shall not be so!"
As Barnes properly noted, "This was said in connection with his washing their feet (John 13:12-15)"; F15 and again one of the synoptics touches and corroborates the gospel of John.
This promise refers to earth and this life ... His kingdom would be administered by them ... For centuries, the story of civilization has been the story of this kingdom. F16
At my table in my kingdom ...
This identifies the church, wherein the Lord's Table is ever found, to be the kingdom in view here. That man who is not eating and drinking at the Lord's Table is not in the kingdom of God.
Twelve thrones ...
These are to be understood spiritually, as are the "twelve tribes of Israel." This refers to the word of the holy apostles as the supreme authority in the Lord's church. Also, it should be noted that death would not remove them from office, no successors to the Twelve being envisioned by the Lord. See the comments in my Commentary on Matthew, Matt. 19:28. Luke did not mention "twelve" thrones, but Matthew did (Matthew 19:28). "These expressions are applicable primarily to the Twelve apostles." F17
My kingdom ...
As Bliss said, "This is the only instance in which Jesus calls the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven `my kingdom'." The kingdom of God is the kingdom of Christ.
The episode of Peter's denial was fully treated in my Commentary on Matthew, Matt. 26:31-35 and Matt. 26:69-75, and likewise in the parallels in Mark 14:30ff and in John 13:36-38; John 18:15-27.
Satan asked to have you ...
Christ here spoke of the kingdom of evil as a domain ruled over by an intelligent, personal head. Peter's defection was not due so much to his personal weakness as it was to the weakness of all men without the Saviour. The Great Sacrifice had not yet been offered. For a few hours, the Prince of Life would be under the dominion of the powers of darkness; and it was impossible that under those conditions Peter could make good his boast. Besides, his heart, even then was not completely in tune with the will of God.
Geldenhuys observed that "The inclusion of this prediction and its subsequent fulfillment is a testimony to the historical truth" F18 of the gospels. It is impossible to believe that the primitive church would have invented, or circulated, such a story, about such an apostle as Peter, if, in fact, it had been anything other than historical truth.
THE CHANGED STATUS OF THE APOSTLES
Upon the eve of his death, the Lord called attention to a dramatic change in the status of the apostles. Until that time, there had been no need for them to be concerned in any manner with worldly needs and provisions, the Lord having taken care of everything; but, with his death, resurrection, and ascension to the other world, all that was to be changed. Prudence, foresight, even means for self-defense, would be needed: and so he instructed them.
This called attention to the fact of their earthly needs having been so long provided for them without care or exertion on their part.
The absolute pacifist tradition among Christians of all ages and the acceptance of it by many commentators make this verse "a real problem" for many. Most commentators view the passage as figurative, as did Geldenhuys, who said, "The Lord intended (these words) in a figurative sense." F19 But if the sword is figurative, what about the purse, the wallet, and the cloak?
As Hobbs said, "It is impossible to tone down this statement; neither can we dismiss it as not being a genuine saying of Jesus." F20 The clear meaning of the passage is that "a sword" is the one thing needful, even surpassing in priority such an important item as a cloak. The two errors to be avoided here are (1) the supposition that the gospel should be spread by the sword, and (2) the notion that a sword should ever be employed against lawful authority. Before the evening was over, the Lord would have further occasion to demonstrate the proper and improper uses of the sword. Barnes was certainly correct in his view that "These directions (concerning the sword) were not made with reference to his being taken in the garden but to their future lives." F21
J. S. Lamar, an eminent Restoration scholar, expressed surprise "to find several of the ablest Protestant expositors interpreting (this passage) as a warrant for self-defense." F22 Nevertheless, the view maintained here is that self-defense is exactly what Jesus taught. Self-defense is a basic, natural right of all men, and there is no lawful government on earth that denies it. Just why should it be supposed that Jesus denied to Christians such a basic right has never been explained. "Resist not evil ... go the second mile ... turn the other cheek... give thy cloak also, etc." are not applicable to situations in which one's life is threatened, or endangered.
That which is written must be fulfilled ...
The avowed intention of the Pharisees was to kill Jesus by assassination (Matthew 26:1-5); and despite their change of strategy due to the treachery of Judas, many of them doubtless preferred the method of killing Jesus they had already agreed upon; and the view here is that Christ would have ordered the apostles to resist any effort to assassinate him. The sword in view here, therefore, was an assurance that his purpose of witnessing his godhead before the Sanhedrin would not be thwarted by an untimely assassination.
When the time came, of course, Jesus would submit to arrest by lawful authority; and the possession by his apostles of swords, coupled with his prohibition of their use against such lawful authority, emphatically dramatized the willingness of his submission. Barnes' note that "the apostles followed the customs of the country, and had with them some means of defense" F23 is doubtless true.
It is enough ...
It is customary to interpret this expression as an assertion that the disciples were missing his point altogether, as if he had said, "Enough of this!" But there is no valid reason for supposing that these words mean anything other than "two swords are enough." As a matter of fact, the swords were a necessary part of the drama of the Lords arrest. Jesus used the excision of Malchus' ear as an occasion to command Peter to put up his sword into "its place," a powerful endorsement of the premise that such a sword of self-defense HAS its place (see my Commentary on Matthew, Matthew 26:52). Significantly, even then, Jesus neither commanded Peter to throw his sword away or surrender it.
THE AGONY IN THE GARDEN
Unto the mount of Olives ...
This was to a place called Gethsemane in the valley of the Kidron. For a discussion of this location, see in my Commentary on John, under John 18:1. The material in Luke here and through Luke 22:62 is paralleled in John 18:1-27, Matthew 26:36-75, and Mark 14:32-42. Even on that tragic night, the Saviour was more concerned for the spiritual welfare of his apostles than for himself.
The taking of Peter, James and John to a position nearer to himself, the triple repetition of the prayer, and other important details were omitted in Luke's account; and for a discussion of those things, reference is made to the comments under the parallels in this series.
Remove this cup ...
The ascendancy of our Lord's human nature is evident in this scene. The utter repugnance of so horrible a death as Jesus confronted sent the Saviour to his knees; and there, wrestling with God in prayer, he brought his human nature into submissive compliance with the Father's will.
The implications here are profound. There was no way God could remove the cup of suffering from Jesus without abandoning the purpose of human redemption. Some have interpreted the "cup" as agony itself, so great that Jesus was in imminent danger of dying before he ever came to the cross. Whether this was truly the "cup" or not is uncertain, but the appearance of an angel to strengthen the Lord in that agony surely suggests that it was at least an element in it.
This marvelous detail which explains so much which would be otherwise unknown was supplied only by Luke. Commentators have attempted to make a great point out of the contrast in Jesus' demeanor in the Johannine account and that of the synoptics. In John, the Lord's majestic appearance prostrated a whole company of soldiers on their faces; in the synoptics, he appears in utter weakness, agony, and even fear. This verse harmonizes both pictures of our Lord, the synoptics giving his state BEFORE the strengthening of the angel, and John giving it AFTER the angel's mission was completed.
Strengthening him ...
Hobbs noted that "this has primary reference to physical strength." F24 Just as angels came and strengthened Jesus following his temptation in the wilderness, an angel was ready here to provide that physical strength without which Jesus might have died before the time. "A divine refreshing pervaded him, body and soul; and thus he received strength to continue to the last in the struggle." F25
The Greek word for "drops of blood" is [thromboi], used only here in the New Testament. "It means clots of blood" F26 and was used by the physician Luke in the same manner as was common in ancient medical works. The spiritual overtones of this were noted by Henry, thus:
Sweat came in with sin, and was a branch of the curse (Genesis 3:19). When Christ was made sin and a curse for us, he underwent a grievous sweat, that in the sweat of his face we might eat the bread of life. F27
Regarding this blood-sweat, it is a mistake to suppose any exaggeration here.
Aristotle (Hist. Anita. iii:19) said that in certain extraordinary states the blood becomes very liquified and flows in such a manner that some have perspired blood. F28
Moreover, the phenomena is not unknown to modern physicians. Dummelow said that "Great mental agony has been known to produce this phenomenon." F29 The fact that death usually followed very quickly after such a blood-sweat suggests the necessity of the angel's mission to strengthen Jesus, who himself described his condition as being "exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death" (Matthew 26:38).
Mortal men are incapable of knowing fully the nature and extent of the saviour's awful agony; but it was there in Gethsemane that our Lord made the final, irrevocable decision to bear our sins on the tree. Morgan said:
All I can say is that as I ponder it, through the darkened window there is a mystic light shining, showing me the terrors of the cross more clearly than I see them even when I come to Calvary. F30
Sleeping for sorrow ...
Only Luke the physician connected the sorrows of the apostles with their sleeping contrary to Jesus instructions; but surely that was a very important element in it.
Regarding this event in the garden, Geldenhuys quoted the Jewish scholar, Montifiore, as saying:
One cannot help but marvel at the wonderful grace and beauty, the exquisite tact and discretion, which the narrative displays. There is not a word too little; there is not a word too much. F31
Tinsley's seeing this verse as "a suggestion that Judas did not actually kiss Jesus (Mark and Matthew both say that he did)" F32 is a perfect example of the type of irresponsible criticism so often indulged in by radical critics. There is no suggestion at all in this place that Judas did not kiss Jesus; but rather a statement that just before he did so, the Lord addressed him as in the next verse.
There is no vocabulary sufficiently extensive to describe the dastardly act of Judas Iscariot. The rationalistic devices of some who would extenuate his treachery, the "explanations" of those who exhibit some diabolical affinity with the traitor himself, together with all the brilliant and clever imaginations set to work out some justification of the traitor's deed - all of these have utterly failed to redeem Judas in the thinking of upright men from the shame of this betrayal.
Son of man ...
By such a word, Jesus reminded Judas that it was no mere human teacher that he was betraying. The divine Messiah was the one whom he betrayed with a kiss; and such an act was so unbelievable that it called forth the Saviour's exclamation here. There is a further glimpse of the Lord's omniscience here. Before Judas profaned the Lord's cheek with his kiss, Jesus exposed his intention.
The apostles had misunderstood the Lord's mention of the sword, and that misunderstanding led to the incident here. The sword was a proper weapon of self-defense against brigands, but not against the lawful authority. Such was the Saviour's respect for the legal government that he willingly submitted to it, even when it was controlled by evil men engaged in an illegal and shameful project.
And a certain one of them smote ...
Peter was not named here as the one who used the sword; and from this it must be assumed that when Luke wrote this gospel, Peter was still alive, discretion demanding that his name be withheld. Tertullian stated that Peter was crucified by Nero (37-68 A.D.); and here is a telling argument for the early date of the gospel of Luke. Whether or not Tertullian's statement is received as true, there is no reasonable way to date Peter's death after the reign of Nero. John, writing long afterward, did not hesitate to name Peter, and from this is it certain that considerations of Peter's safety required the omission of his name here.
The servant who lost his ear was Malchus (John 18:10); and Luke, with a physician's characteristic observance, noted that it was his right ear.
Suffer ye them thus far ...
The word THEM is not in the Greek, and some question exists as to the exact meaning. Geldenhuys understood it as "Let events take their course, even to my arrest," F33 thus seeing the remark as addressed to the Lord's disciples with the meaning that they should not interfere any further with the arrest.
And healed him ...
Like all of the miracles of Jesus, this one had definite and necessary utility. One great purpose of the Lord in the arrest was to procure the exemption of the apostles from custody, as particularly evident in John; but, with Peter's rash act, such would have been far more difficult except for the timely healing of the excised ear.
As Hobbs said, "swords and staves" indicate that "both Roman soldiers and temple police" F34 were used in the arrest. Only Luke, however, spelled out the presence of the chief priests who had come along to make sure the mission succeeded.
Daily in the temple ...
This is a reference to the extensive ministry of Christ in Jerusalem in the final weeks following the long "journey" to the Holy City emphasized throughout by Luke. Also, this is another bit of evidence that Wednesday of this final week was not a day of retirement.
The power of darkness ...
This is another echo of the great truth so strongly stressed in John, further evidence that the Christ of the synoptics is one with the Christ of John.
It has been frequently observed that if this night arrest of Jesus had truly been the Passover, none of the chief priests, nor the temple guards, would have been permitted to bear arms after sundown of Nisan 14. It was therefore the night before, on Nisan 13 (technically the 14th) that this arrest occurred. Had it been Nisan 14th after sundown, it would have been technically Nisan 15th, the night of the Passover meal. See chronology under Luke 22:2.
The legal high priest was Caiaphas, but Annas his father-in-law was held to be the rightful high priest deposed by Rome; both of them occupied the same palace; and Peter's denial occurred in the courtyard where both Annas and Caiaphas lived. Luke very briefly mentioned the two arraignments, or trials, before Annas and Caiaphas. For article on the "Six Trials of Jesus," see my Commentary on Matthew, Matt. 26:57ff.
Peter followed afar off ...
Peter's failure was partially due to some things he did, such as following "afar off," warming himself at the fire kindled by Jesus' enemies, his rash resort to carnal weapons, his boastful promise to go to prison and death with Jesus, etc. See my Commentary on Matthew, Matt. 26:58,70-75.
Psychologically, Peter placed himself at a disadvantage by "warming himself by the devil's fire." Accepting favors of enemies of the truth is just as dangerous now as it was when Peter sat in the firelight so long ago.
It is refreshing indeed to recall that, a few days later, there was another fire by the seaside, kindled by the Lord himself, and like this one blazing forth at a very early hour in the morning: and by that other fire Peter confessed three times that he loved the Lord! (John 21:9).
One of those who accosted Peter was a kinsman of Malchus whose ear Peter had cut off; and, if Peter recognized the connection, this would have increased his apprehension (John 18:26).
This incident has been thoroughly commented upon in all of the parallels. See under Luke 22:40 for a list of these.
Luke omitted any reference to Peter's cursing and swearing, but like all the gospel writers, did not fail to spell out completely the act of denial itself. Is this not another example of the prophetic power of Jesus, or his omniscience? Of course it is. No one but God could spell out exactly what will happen by three o'clock tomorrow morning, as Jesus did here. There is a weariness in the continual carping of critics that the omniscience of Jesus is found principally in John.
Cock crow ...
"The cock crow was a Roman division of time, marking the close of the third watch, about three o'clock in the morning." F35
Wept bitterly ...
One's heart cannot fail to be touched by the grief of this robust outdoorsman sobbing out his remorse for his impulsive denial of the Lord whom he loved. Sin had taken him unawares, when his defenses were down, when the powers of darkness were ascendant; but none of the extenuating circumstances removed the sting from his heart, nor could a flood of tears wash it away.
And Peter remembered ...
The only trouble with this was that it came a bit late to prevent Peter's denial. If only he could have remembered what Jesus had prophesied somewhat earlier, he might have found in that remembrance some means of averting failure.
There were six mockeries of Jesus in all. See under Mark 15:16 in my Commentary on Mark for a list of these. All of the mockeries were due to the instinctive hatred of carnal and unregenerated men for holiness and truth. Especially reprehensible in this glimpse of the mockeries provided by Luke, since it took place in the court of the high priests of Israel, was the fact of its being promulgated, or at least allowed, by the religious leaders of the Jews. It might have been expected at the hands of the Roman soldiery, long accustomed to deeds of blood and violence; but it was especially shameful that the priests would have condoned such a thing.
THE SANHEDRIN GIVES THE DEATH VERDICT
The night trials of Jesus were illegal; but so also was this gathering of the Sanhedrin on Nisan 14th, a high festival upon which no trial of any kind whatever was legal. Of course, the purpose of this assembly, the third in the six trials of Jesus, was to lend some semblance of legality to the preliminary trials held the night before.
This ten-second summary of the three trials of Jesus which occupied the whole of a long night and a full-dress rehearsal after daylight does not give a hundredth of all that was said and done. There were many, many questions, and answers, and adjurations, and restatements, and recapitulations throughout the long trials Jesus endured at the hands of the chosen people. One of the gospel's giving a question or an answer in slightly different form from that in another gospel may not be intelligently advocated as a contradiction or discrepancy. All that is written in all of the gospels is totally and unequivocally true, there being no honest way to deny a word of it.
If thou art the Christ, tell us ...
At one point during the trials the high priest phrased the question thus: "Art thou the Christ the Son of the Blessed?" And to this, Jesus replied, "I am, and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power and coming with the clouds of heaven" (Mark 14:61,62). Christ preferred to answer the question which permitted the imperial "I AM" reply, rather than the type mentioned here, to which he replied differently.
If I tell you, ye will not believe ...
Jesus had indeed told them hundreds of times, but they would not believe.
If I ask you, ye will not answer ...
There are a number of examples of this in the gospels. See Luke 14:6; 20:5; Matthew 22:46, etc. Those evil rulers were not able to answer Jesus' questions; they could not stand against him in open discussion; and, even in this trial, they refused to answer his arguments.
Henceforth ye shall see the Son of man seated at the right hand of the power of God ...
This is an emphatic declaration from the lips of Jesus that he was indeed the divine Messiah, a supernatural person, in possession (ultimately) of the very power of God; and it must be pointed out that the Sanhedrin fully understood it as such, thus making them much more perceptive than those who blindly ignore the impact of this declaration.
The phrasing of the question, "Art thou then the Son of God?" is proof that the Sanhedrin understood the meaning of Jesus' reply.
Ye say that I am ...
has the weight of "Yes, at last you have seen the point of what I am saying!" It is a gross error to hail these words as anything except the most positive affirmation of Jesus that he was, is and ever will be, the Son of God, "The expression is equivalent to "YES." F36
By the sheer power of morality and intellect, Jesus at last forced the officialdom of the Hebrews into using the only charge that he would permit them to use, namely, his claim to be the divine Messiah. All of the other charges which they had so maliciously advocated against him for so long, such as sabbath breaking, casting out demons by the power of the devil, etc., all dropped out of sight here, even that garbled quote about destroying the temple; and the only reason the leaders had for demanding Jesus' death came into view, not merely here, but in every one of the four gospels, that being that "he made himself the Son of God" (John 19:7). That was the issue that Jesus chose to seal with the blood of the cross; and the fury of the Sanhedrin at being forced to face the issue became apparent in their deceitful conduct before Pilate.
This, of course, was the death penalty, pronounced by the sacred court of the Jews; but the fact of the death penalty having been removed from their jurisdiction sent the next phase of the trials into the courts of the Gentiles. Wonderful, wonderful was the appearance of Jesus in these fantastic trials, wherein he so gloriously attested his eternal power and Godhead.
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.