The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”
“Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. “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.”
Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy!” (verses 63-65)
The irony here is profound, as is the weight of responsibility that comes with knowledge.
The high priest, together with the rest of the Sanhedrin, has asked Jesus the key question about his identity, the answer to which should unlock understanding, making a lifetime of difference for these religious leaders, indeed for all eternity.
But ironically, having asked the right question, they can’t comprehend the answer.
The problem, of course, arises from the fact that they were never seeking understanding in the first place, but simply looking for an occasion to pounce on Jesus and send him to his death. They were hoping all along he would answer the question in the affirmative, not so they could bow down and worship as would be fitting, but rather so that they could seek to eliminate him entirely.
The other piece of irony is that Jesus has been silent in face of all the preceding accusations against him. He has also, throughout his ministry, been guarded in who he has entrusted with the knowledge of his identity. But now he speaks, pulling back the veil, giving a clear sighting of reality. He owns the title – “the Christ, the Son of God” – but pushes further, making it clear that the ancient prophecy from Daniel about “one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven” (Daniel 7:13-14) is a prophecy that is about him. He will be revealed in glory at the right hand of Almighty God. It’s a stunning sighting.
But the high priest and others have no reverence. They have no humility in the presence of such majesty. They have no ability to grasp the magnitude of the revelation. Instead, they heap malicious scorn on Jesus’ head, together with their spit, slapping him in the face and derisively challenging him to prophesy.
The horror in the story is that they have come face to face with truth – with the Truth himself – and have blindly mocked him rather than bending the knee in homage. It’s a horrific error, for Jesus had earlier said, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded” (Luke 12:48). Having asked their question, these religious leaders have been given much – oh, so much. The weight presses upon them.
Reading Matthew’s account, we have the opportunity to see clearly the reality of Jesus’ identity, to embrace the fullness of his glory, and to do what these leaders did not – namely, worship and adore.May it be.
Lord Jesus, you are the Christ, the Son of God. You are the coming Son of Man who will be given authority, glory and sovereign power at the right hand of the Father. All peoples, nations and those of every language will worship you. Gladly, I do so now. Amen.
Worship: Take these titles on your lips often during the day – he is the Christ, the Son of God, the coming Son of Man, the One with all authority, glory and power. Tell him what the titles mean to you. Worship him for all he’s worth.
Photo by Joshua Woroniecki on Unsplash