Luke 22:54b-62, 66-71 (spring AD 30, Friday of Passion Week)
Jesus – throughout his ministry – had been claiming by words and actions to be God; to be the promised Messiah from God. Here, the rulers are hoping for a five-minute trial where Jesus commits ‘blasphemy’, after which they will go to the Romans to ask permission to execute him for it.
But Jesus wasn’t going to let them get there so easily. He could have acquitted himself and escaped death very easily: when they asked him whether he was the Messiah he could have said, “No”, or maybe even “No, that’s not what I meant at all”. That – more or less – would have been that. Instead, Jesus pointed out that they were the ones feeding him lines about being the Son of God.
So they understood – correctly – that he believed he was the Son of God.
He claimed it more obviously when he said that “the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God [where only the Son of Man – i.e. the Messiah – would sit]”. That’s why they double-checked his meaning, asking whether he was claiming to be God. He was, unequivocally, yet indirectly, claiming to be God. On this occasion he was being indirect, forcing them into the position of having to lie in order to get him executed by inventing other charges.
Note also, another reason for Jesus to NOT directly answer their question about who he was claiming to be: (v.67).
Jesus was never about wasting his time with those who were plotting against him, except as it further helped to expose their hypocrisy. Just as he turned previous trick questions on their heads (e.g. Q: ‘Should we pay taxes to Caesar?’; A: ‘Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s’), so he does here.
When people say, ‘If God would do xxx, then I would believe in him’, they’re lying. If they wanted the truth they would search for it and ask for answers. Demanding that God prove himself to us in the way that we prefer is not a search for truth or an honest question.
If xxx happened (houses shooting into the sky, badgers flying, or something equally unlikely, people would always find a reason why that wasn’t down to God or anything miraculous. Just like if modern sceptics saw the parting of the Red Sea they’d say it was just wind. Well, of course it was wind, but it was the wind God said he would send, in that strength, at that time, in that direction.
Similarly, if Jesus had a pre-Second Coming coming, he would be rejected by most people, just like the first time.
If God did that one miraculous thing we’d really like for our lives, it would show we just wanted what we want, not him.
‘Seek, and you will find’, Jesus said.
Pretending to seek God? Jesus knows it, and he isn’t playing.