Jesus Interrogated

In his commentary on Mark, Burton Coffman suggests that there are six mockings of Jesus: 1) by the High Priest’s servants, 2) by Herod Antipas, 3) by the soldiers of the Roman garrison, 4) by the general public, 5) by the priests and scribes, 6) by the two crucifed thieves (see Coffman’s Commentary on Mark 15.16). There can be no doubt our Savior endure much ridicule and reviling as the our of His death draws near. In Luke 22.63-71, we find one of these times of mocking as well as a beating which Jesus endures at this time by those men who have custody of Him. He is asked three questions during this time.

Question 1: Who is striking you?

The first of these questions in in verse 63-65 where Jesus is mocked “as they beat him.” He is blindfolded and struck presumably about the face, although the text is no specfic. These men who are holding Jesus are probably Jewish, no doubt officers of the temple guard (v.4). Their cruelty knows no bounds and their hatred is on clear display. As the beating continues, with their mocks and blasphemies, their railings, they pose a question: “Who is it that struck you?” This is a sick and twisted game these Jews are playing with Jesus. “Prophesy” they demand. Indeed, He is a prophet, but these men are blinded to this, caught in their devious desires of degrading the Son of God.

Here we see a defining characteristic of Jesus and a quality He exhorted for His disciples to have: meekness. Meekness is not weakness; it is strength and power under control. Most illustrations focus on a wild horse that is broken or a Corvette driving the speed limit. Here is Jesus, the cosmic sovereign Creator of the universe refusing to fight back, refusing to zap these cruel men out of His universe or blast them out of existence. Here is true meekness. See, a broken wild horse will buck when you stick an ice pick in its neck; but the Son of God will take three “ice picks” (probably more like railroad spikes) in His flesh before this is finished.

Question 2: Are you the Christ?

From the cudgelling to the courtroom, Jesus is taken once again before the Jewish authorities. Early daylight is dawning as the assembly of the elders came together. This group is composed of the elders of the people, the chief priests and scribes. Collectively, these three comprise the Sanhedrin. Roman rule had striped them of their ability to carry out captial punishment, hence, their bringing Jesus before Pilate (23.1-5). Here, in their secret council meeting, they ask Jesus the second question: “Are you the Christ?” This question has political implications inasmuch as this is a claim to Messianic royalty.

Jesus answers their question with a statement (v.67b-69). “If I tell you, you will no believe.” You who have seen my life, heard my teachings, and seen the works and signs, even if I tell you, you will not believe. “If I ask you, you will not answer.” In essence Jesus is saying they’ve made up their mind and determined that no matter what He answers, affirmative or negative, they will put Him to death. Verse 69, though, is basically an answer in and of itself: this is a direct claim to divine glory. To sit at the right hand of the power of God as the Son of Man is that special claim to be vested with the same absolute dominion as Him who sits on the throne. And these men knew what these words from Jesus meant, there was no mistaking it: Jesus has claimed to be the Messiah.

Question 3: Are you the Son of God?

So there is one final question they have which really builds on what they have been asking. “All” of them ask, insist that Jesus answer this last question: “Are you the Son of God, then?” “Then” because they understood the preceeding verses as a Messianic claim. But this is a good question which every person must ask and answer: Is Jesus the Son of God? When you weigh the evidence, not only the claims Jesus made but eh miracles he performed to back up His word; when you look upon the love, compassion, mercy, and grace of this man; when you consider the brilliant clarity of His teachings and the authority with which He taught; when you examine the purity of His life and conduct while on earth; when you look fully into narrative recorded in the pages of the New Testament, what do you say about Jesus? Is He the Son of God?

Jesus says, “You say that I am.” This is not a sophomoric, smart-aleck response from Jesus; Coffman says the force of this is “Yes, at last you have seen the point of what I am saying!” It was a statement used often by rabbis when the one who is interrogated accepts his own affirmation of the question put to him. It is as plain an assertion of Jesus that He is divine as any in Scripture. Indeed, verse 71 shows that the Sanhedrin understood the import of Jesus’ words: they had sufficient evidence against to make their ruling – death. “We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.” In their minds, He is guilty of blasphemy and worthy of death. But again, they have no power to execute men since this has been taken from them by Rome. So if they would put Jesus to death, they must seek a Roman execution. Enter Pontius Pilate.

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Questions and other sundry matters

Allow me to express my appreciation to every reader out there whether you comment or not. You drive me to continue to study and post my findings in an orderly and coherent manner. Along the same lines, to those who did comment we had some very good additional information and also some very good questions which I will now address.

How “many” do you think attempted to compile a record of Jesus’ life? Inasmuch as the language of Luke is very general with regards to how many, I think we can conclude that we can never know. Luke says many…so there were many.

Do you think Luke was inspired? Let’s address what inspiration is. Easton’s Bible Dictionary says it is “that extraordinary or supernatural influence vouchsafed to those who wrote the Holy Scriptures, rendering their writings infallible.” Was there a divine influence in the writing of Luke? Absolutely and I believe Paul affirms this with his statement in 2 Tim 3.16. How much of an influence did the Spirit have on Luke? That is the question. I believe it was enough to ensure Luke wrote what he was supposed to write (i.e. nothing false or erroneous) but it was not the inspiration the Apostles were promised that would guide them into all truth and teach them all things (John 14.26; 16.13). Hence, Luke went to the eye and earwitnesses which leads to the next question…

Who were the possible eyewitnesses in your opinion? I believe that Luke went to the apostles, as many as were alive and that he could interview. Probably his largest source of information was the apostle Paul. After all Paul was inspired as the other Twelve were inspired. Paul was guided into all truth by the Holy Spirit and was himself an eyewitness of the resurrected Christ (1 Cor 15.8). What I found interesting was that one commentator said that Luke may have interviewed Mary, hence the references to Mary treasuring in her heart the things she had seen at the birth of Jesus and pondering them in her heart (Luke 2.19). Also, Luke may have used Joanna (8.3) and Cleopas (24.18) as references as well.

When did Luke become a disciple? From what I have read, tradition holds that Luke was from the Antioch of Syria church. I don’t know about that. Others have said, and I agree, that Luke was a convert of Paul’s in Troas (Acts 16.8-10) and he latched onto Paul as a companion. Of course I would not disagree with someone who said Luke was already a disciple when Paul hit Troas and the two became fellow-travelers. That is also possible.

Theophilus

Little is known about this person. Some have suggested that since his name is “friend of God” that it is merely a symbolic name for all believers. However, Theophilus was a proper name and the title “most excellent” would point to a real historical figure with the name Theophilus or at least a person whose identity is kept private by Luke with a pseudonym. Whatever the case, we do not know what, if any, position Theophilus could have held or even if he were a Jew or Gentile. It is not even certain if he was a believer (he has received instruction, but whether he believes is another story). Luke may be trying to persuade a skeptic concerning the truth of the resurrected Savior (hence the eyewitness testimony of Cleopas and others). Even if he were not a dignitary of some type, he could still research the facts Luke is presenting to see if these things are true or a mere fabrication. After all, Theophilus did live in the first century and could easily go to the eyewitnesses himself to interview them as well.