When it was day, the Council of elders of the people assembled, both chief priests and scribes, and they led Him away to their council chamber, saying, “If You are the Christ, tell us.” But He said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I ask a question, you will not answer. But from now on THE SON OF MAN WILL BE SEATED AT THE RIGHT HAND of the power OF GOD.” And they all said, “Are You the Son of God, then?” And He said to them, “Yes, I am.” Then they said, “What further need do we have of testimony? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth.” (Luke 22:66-71 NASB)
In Luke, we have an abbreviated version of the trial. He skips the false witnesses. There are no comments about Jesus building the temple in three days. Missing are the frustrations of the religious leaders as they struggle to gain some way to accuse Him. But in Matthew, Mark, and Luke we have the same allusion to Psalm 110. And we have Jesus’ answer of “You have said it yourself” when asked if He were the Messiah and Son of God. The order is reversed in the other two, but the content is essentially the same.
John doesn’t record much of a trial by the Jewish leaders. What we have in Matthew and Mark is the greatest amount of detail. Considering that there were no disciples present at this proceeding, it’s not hard to understand the lack of detail. But in Luke we do have two peculiar details that are missing in the other three. First is the odd answer Jesus gives to the question about whether or not He is the Messiah. Jesus’ answer has three parts. Only the third occurs in other Gospels.
Jesus says, “If I tell you, you might not believe. But if I ask, you might not answer.” Scholars are confused by the second part. So am I, and I suspect so are you. If Jesus asks what they might not answer? Most translations use a confident future tense in English, “…you will not believe…”, “…you will not answer…”. In Greek it’s actually subjunctive, which leaves open the potential without such certainty. It’s the negation that lends itself to the choice of English translation. With the combination of the verb tense and mode with the negation, the meaning is an ingressive sense, as in “do not begin to…”. And that’s the other problem, if it’s taken that way, it’s a prohibition, not an indicative statement. In other words, Jesus is telling them to not begin to believe, to not begin to answer. It’s context that suggests otherwise, so what’s a translator to do? They all pretty much do the same thing, done since 1611, translate it as a confident future. Even so, it’s probably good to keep in mind that Jesus is saying that they won’t even begin to believe or answer. He’s saying He’ll get nothing from them.
But what does that combination in Luke mean? Why claim they won’t believe, why state they won’t answer? While the answers to that are not really clear, I suspect that that Jesus is protesting that there is no dialogue here. There is no option to discuss, but, rather, the discussion is all one-sided. They want Jesus to only tell them what they want to hear so they will have an excuse to have Him killed. They don’t want to hear anything else. They don’t want to discuss, their minds and hearts are already set.
Don’t we do that though? We have a point of view in our minds and hearts, and let nothing add or detract from that view? I have struggled with that for a lot of my life. The concept of this blog has come out of that struggle. Have you also come to the place that you are convinced that you need the perspective of others? It has been a tough lesson to learn that I need to listen more and speak less. I do have my own views, and often I fall in love with those views over and above my Master. I have the potential to idolize my own conclusions. I hope I’ve grown out of that, but the potential will probably always haunt me.
Where are you in that? Have you attached yourself to some view of God without realizing that it’s impossibly narrow? Maybe it’s a teacher you believe makes no mistakes. Maybe it’s a comment you’ve heard or read on a passage that has framed your entire view of God. Whatever it is, it’s possible Jesus is asking you whether you will begin to believe and begin to answer so the two of you can dialogue. The problem I faced was that my Master uses the views of others to help refocus my own; lots of others. Sure I filter them, but I find truth in the oddest places, but only if I look, listen, and ask questions. If I dialogue I learn. If I’m open to belief I grow.
That’s my view this morning. What’s your view?