Theme: On trial in a case of life or death.
This weeks lessons show that we are the ones on trial.
But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.”
At this point Caiaphas revealed the shrewdness for which the Romans had undoubtedly made him the chief Jewish ruler. What he did was illegal. The high priest was forbidden to intervene in a capital trial, and he could only cast his vote after the other court members had cast theirs. Nevertheless, what he did was a stroke of political genius. Seeing that the case was dissolving, Caiaphas suddenly turned to the prisoner and demanded on the basis of the most solemn oath in Israel, the Oath of the Testimony, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God” (v. 63).
This was brilliant for two reasons. First, the wording of the challenge was precise. If Caiaphas had asked only if Jesus was the Messiah, Jesus could have answered yes without jeopardy, for it was not a capital offense to make such a claim. Time would prove it either to be right or wrong. Again, if Caiaphas had asked only if Jesus was the Son of God, Jesus could also have answered yes without danger, for he had defused a similar accusation earlier when he reminded his accusers that many Jews were called sons of God (John 10:34-36, quoting Psalm 82:6). However, by combining the two parts as he did, Caiaphas was asking not merely if Jesus was the Messiah or a son of God in some general sense, but whether he was a Messiah who was God. If Jesus said yes to that, he could be convicted of the capital crime of blasphemy.
Second, although Jesus was not obliged to give evidence against himself, being a pious Jew he would not refuse such a charge. Thus, although he had been silent to this point, Jesus finally spoke up, saying, “Yes, it is as you say… But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven” (v. 64).
At this stage of the trial, when there was no point in remaining silent longer, Jesus not only answered Caiaphas’ question by a firm “Yes, it is as you say.” He also added details as to the kind of Messiah and Son of God he was. He did it by referring to that magnificent passage in Daniel in which that ancient prophet describes a divine figure approaching the Ancient of Days to join in God’s judgment. There before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14).
The judges did not misunderstand that reference. “Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, ‘He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’ “‘He is worthy of death,they answered” (vv. 65-66).
Why was Caiaphas’ charge to Jesus a brilliant
On what charge was Jesus finally convicted?