“The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. 64 They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” 65 And they said many other insulting things to him.66 At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and the teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. 67 “If you are the Messiah,” they said, “tell us.”Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, 68 and if I asked you, you would not answer. 69 But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”70 They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?” He replied, “You say that I am.”71 Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”
The common theme of “discovery” and “identity” is found running throughout this segment in Luke in the crucifixion narrative.
In v.64, the ”men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him.” They put a blindfold on Jesus and demanded, ”Prophesy! Who hit you?” And then they continued with insults. These soldiers were mocking Jesus, wanting to test his powers, and so were asking him to identify who hit him. “Tell us who did it,” was their mocking plea. Can you even imagine?
In v.67, Jesus is now before all the religious big whigs including Pilate and Herod. They were trying to find out who he really was or who he thought he was. ”If you are the Messiah, tell us,” they said. But Jesus replied, ”If I tell you, you will not believe me.” And again in v.70 they asked, ”Are you the Son of God?” “Tell us,” they wanted to know.
This passage screams to the identity of Jesus and the lack of belief of those persecuting him. The enemies of Jesus did not really want the truth of who Jesus was, they wanted a version of the truth. They didn’t care about his identity even though they mockingly said, ”Tell us.” It was more of a ”tell us who you think you are” rather than ”tell us the truth.”
Both the soldiers and the Jewish religious leaders failed miserably that day. Their judgment from God has already come. But for us, who we proclaim Jesus to be matters deeply. We can no more make up an identity for Jesus than he could about himself. We learn who Christ is from his testimony, as written in Scripture, and from our experience and encounter with him as God and King. Those in this story who sought through mockery or testing to discover Jesus’ identity did not really want the truth of the matter. Darkness was reigning and evil prevailed in the unholy sacrifice of Jesus.
Do you believe? Have you encountered the Christ? Have you found a loving God willing to save you, to love you, to call you by name? It’s not that we need Christ to tell us who he is, but rather, for him to tell us who we are. For those who believe are called children of God, adopted sons and daughters, captured by the King.
Trust in Christ today. The One who went without complain to the cross continues to call your name.
”Father, loving God and Mercy. You are gracious. Forgive us our sins. Forgive those who persecuted you and put you to death. Thank you, however, for enduring the cross, for rescuing the broken and finding the lost. Thank you for loving me and allowing me to know the power of your love. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen