Luke 24:36-53 is the final unit in Luke’s Gospel. This final section contains Luke’s version of the Great Commission.
As the episode begins, the disciples are discussing among themselves the various reports of Jesus’ resurrection when suddenly Jesus appears to them saying, “Peace to you!” His appearance startles them, for they think they see a ghost (vv. 36-37). They still have trouble accepting the idea that he has risen.
Jesus asks them why they are afraid and slow to believe. For proof that his whole body has risen, he shows them his flesh and bones and then eats a piece of broiled fish (vv. 38-43). The meal proves that Jesus is not a phantom—his resurrected body is real.
Jesus then reminds them that he told them of these events –and how they would fulfill the Scriptures—during his ministry (v.44). Then he showed them how the Scriptures taught that the Christ must suffer, rise from the dead, resulting in the preaching of repentance for the forgiveness of sins to all nations (vv.45-47). What happened to Jesus was not an alteration of God’s plan—it was part of God’s plan all along.
What Scriptures could Jesus have alluded to? A suffering Messiah is alluded to in text such like Psalm 22; 69 and Isaiah 52:13-53:12. A resurrected Christ is pictured in Psalm 16:8-10, 110:1. Reaching the nations may be pictured in Isaiah 40:3-5 and Amos 9:12.
Importantly, this passage indicates that the fundamental Christian message of forgiveness of sins involves repentance, the act of turning from idols to serving the One true God (I Thess. 1:9-10). Those who turn from sin and look toward Jesus for forgiveness will find salvation and this offer of forgiveness must be preached to all peoples.
As the disciples take this message to the nations, they will testify to the fact that they witnessed Jesus’ death and resurrection. But before they go, they must wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit (v.49). The allusion here is to Joel’s promise of the Spirit in the end times and Jeremiah’s promise of the Spirit’s arrival as part of the new covenant. The Spirit will be the driving force that enables the disciples to testify to Jesus effectively.
Jesus then takes the disciples to Bethany, where he ascends into heaven, an event Luke will narrate with more detail in the opening chapter of Acts. The disciples are filled with joy as they return to Jerusalem, where they worship God at the temple as they await the arrival of the Holy Spirit (vv.50-53).
Witnesses to all people
The commission in Luke 24 is our commission, too. Here, Jesus told his first disciples to proclaim the gospel—the forgiveness of sins—to the world. This gospel includes repentance, is for all people and its advancement is fueled by the Holy Spirit. Our job, some two millennia later, is to learn how to contextualize this message as faithful witnesses to our generation.
The gospel involves repentance
Repentance is fundamentally a recognition of one’s inherent sinfulness and need for God’s grace and forgiveness. It results in one turning from a life of sin and toward faithfulness and devotion to God. The end result is God’s forgiveness.
Unfortunately, the idea of sin and the need for repentance does not play well in modern society. So how do we tell others of their need to repent?
A method that is finding success in modern America is intentional discipleship, where believers invest in the lives of nonbelievers, earning the right to share their story of coming to faith in Christ. This is how we are witnesses in our day. In the course of conversation, tell people how you came to understand your need to repent and tell them how they can repent and believe in Christ for the forgiveness of sins.
The gospel is for all people
The commission is not so much for all nations as it is for all people. God’s desire, in fact, he has promised, is for all tribes and tongues to be represented in heaven. Therefore, we must actively engage different ethnicities with the gospel.
American Christians have traditionally fulfilled this part of the mandate by engaging in foreign missions. However, in recent decades, vast numbers of unreached people groups have migrated to the United States, making the United States a growing foreign mission field. God is sending the nations to us.
If you live in any large U.S. city, chances are you are surrounded by multiple ethnic groups who have never heard or believed the gospel. In my state alone, there are more than 200 languages spoken.
We must do what it takes to get the gospel to these people. In many states, Baptists can partner with other churches, associations and state Convention personnel to identify such people groups and develop a plan to reach them with the gospel. We must make an effort to reach all people.
The gospel is powered by the Holy Spirit
The key to enabling this work is the Spirit. Many Christians refrain from witnessing out of fear of rejection or because they might say the wrong thing. Witnessing does not require a depth of knowledge in theology or apologetics. It only requires a trust in the Spirit to do its work, which should lead each of us to engage our lost friends, relatives, neighbors and coworkers in normal conversations that lead us to share the gospel in our own stories.
Don’t be afraid. The Spirit is in you. Trust the Spirit to lead you as you intentionally reach out to others with the gospel of Jesus Christ—a gospel that is good news for all men.
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Luke 24:13-34 is the second of three resurrection appearances in Luke 24. This section demonstrates how the resurrection and the Word of God reassure the faith of Christians.
The episode begins as two disciples are traveling to a village named Emmaus. As they walk, they discuss (perhaps debating) the events that occurred the previous few days in Jerusalem. While they are walking, Jesus appears on the road with them, though Luke says “their eyes were kept from recognizing him” (vv.13-16). It’s unclear as to why they couldn’t recognize him, or if another agent (such as God) is masking their eyes. Perhaps it was because they were not expecting the resurrection.
Jesus then asks them about the nature of their conversation. Jesus’ question brings them to a halt, and they become sad as they recall the events of the past few days (v.17). They are hopeless without Jesus.
One of them, named Cleopas, asks the man if he is the only one in the area unaware of the events in Jerusalem, to which the traveler (Jesus) asks, “What things?” They respond by recalling all that occurred concerning Jesus of Nazareth—a mighty prophet—and how the religious leaders handed him over to death. They explained that they hoped that Jesus would be the one to redeem Israel, but now three days after his death there is no hope of that (vv. 18-21). These men are in despair.
The two disciples continue, explaining how some of the women of their group went to the tomb and found it empty and were told by angels that Jesus was alive. Some of the disciples went to the tomb and found it empty as the women said, but Jesus they did not see (vv.22-24). How ironic considering they are speaking to Jesus! They are baffled by what has occurred. The last thing they expect is a resurrection.
Jesus then launches into a rebuke, calling the disciples “foolish” and “slow” to believe all that the prophets—a brief descriptor for the Old Testament as a whole—spoke concerning the Christ. Scripture is clear that the Messiah must suffer and then enter into glory (vv.25-26). Luke again notes that these events must occur—this is all part of God’s design.
He then explains the promises concerning the Messiah from Moses through the Prophets and how they point to Jesus (v.27). Jesus is making the point that, despite the traumatic events that just occurred, all hope is not lost. What they have seen is the beginning of hope, for God’s plan of deliverance is unfolding as predicted. Moreover, they had no reason to feel hopeless, for these events were foretold.
When they neared the town, the two men ask the traveler (Jesus) to join them for the night (vv.28-29). As they dine for dinner, Jesus breaks bread and gives it to them, reminiscent of the Last Supper. Then suddenly the two men recognized that the man is Jesus, and he immediately vanished (vv.30-31). They have been spending time with the One they have been discussing.
The two then realize as they discuss the events that they should not be surprised (v. 32). Now it all makes sense to them. The two then return to Jerusalem and find the apostles gathered together (v.33). Before they can tell their story, the apostles tell them that Jesus is indeed risen. He even appeared to Simon (v.34). The two men then explain all that happened to them on the road and how they realized it was Jesus at dinner (v.35).
Despair is broken. Joy and excitement overwhelm the disciples as the reality of the resurrection becomes clear.
The Reassurance of the Resurrection
The two disciples from Emmaus were in despair at the opening of this account, but they were filled with joy and excitement at the end. Why? Because they knew beyond all doubt that Jesus was alive; that God’s Word was true. More than anything else, this account serves as a reassurance to all of Luke’s readers that Jesus has risen and is alive; that God’s Word can be trusted.
The Word of God strengthens our faith
Jesus’ rebuke of the two disciples indicates that they were sad because they had missed the prophecies of the Christ in the Old Testament (Luke 24:25). If they had understood and believed the Word of God, they would have known that what occurred to Jesus was necessary in order to fulfill God’s Word. But once the Scriptures made sense to them, then they believed. Their faith was strengthened.
Much of the Bible remains a mystery to many believers today—as it was to the two men on the road to Emmaus. Yet, it has been given to us so that our eyes will become open to what God has to say about himself, about humanity, and about where the world is headed.
I’m afraid that some Christians avoid reading the Bible out of fear. Some may be afraid of finding supposed inconsistencies, whether internally or with modern science. Let me reassure you that all apparent inconsistencies can be answered satisfactorily. Some may fear being unable to understand the meaning of the text, which can cause frustration when reading the Bible. If this is you, let me encourage you to study the Bible one book at a time. This will allow you to read a non-academic commentary to help you gain a better understanding of biblical culture and what the Bible is communicating.
Whatever the case may be don’t let your fear prevent you from engaging God’s Word on a daily basis, and don’t let it prevent you from digging deep into His Word. Search the Scriptures. You’ll be glad that you did.
The resurrection strengthens our faith
At the end of this section, all of the disciples are excited on account of seeing the risen Christ. In a matter of hours, the entire group of disciples has gone from despair to joy. They saw the resurrected Christ and their faith was strengthened. The various accounts of the resurrection in Luke’s Gospel probably serve as some form of reassurance to Theophilus (Luke 1:3).
Likewise, our faith should be strong on account of the resurrection. For one thing, the resurrection was well attested by many eye witnesses (1 Cor. 15: 5-8). We can have confidence in the resurrection as a historical fact.
Since it’s true, this has practical implications for believers that should also strengthen our faith. Because of the resurrection, Jesus now sits at the right hand of God (Acts 2:32-33), where he intercedes for us (Rom. 8:34). This means we don’t have to face the struggles of life and sin alone. We have an advocate for us, pleading our case before God.
Being at the right hand of God also means Jesus has complete authority over all things (Eph. 1:19-23). He has the power to forgive us, protect us, and even to raise us from the dead.
Believe in the resurrection with all you heart, mind and soul. Let the truth of it sink in and permeate your life. Jesus is alive and in control of all things. Walk confidently in that truth as you go.
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Luke 23:26-49 is Luke’s account of Jesus’ crucifixion. Here,we see that Jesus is committed to exuding compassion all the way to death.
The episode begins as Jesus is led away while bearing His cross. However, after the scourging He endured earlier, Jesus is unable to carry the cross Himself. Thus, a man named Simon, who happened to pass by, is enlisted to carry the cross for Jesus (v.26). Simon is a character just like us, who shares in Jesus’ journey to the cross.
Following Jesus is a large crowd of people, including a group of women who were lamenting and mourning for him (v.27). Jesus responds to the mourning women by encouraging them to redirect their attention to a more serious matter: The women should weep for the land of Israel; for Jesus’ death means certain judgment will fall upon the nation. The day of judgment will be so terrible that barren women will be blessed because they would not have to watch their children endure such pain (vv.28-29). Further, that day will be so unbearable that people will long to die and wish creation’s destruction (v.30). In warning the women on the road to his death, Jesus demonstrates his deep compassion for all people.
He finishes his remarks with an illustration: If someone like Jesus—a healthy green tree—faces judgment, how much more severe will the fate be for the dry wood responsible for His death (v.31)? This is Jesus’ last lament over the nation of Israel in Luke, and it is a serious warning about the judgment that lies ahead.
Luke then informs the reader that Jesus is crucified alongside two criminals (vv.32-33). Jesus then turns to God in prayer, asking God to forgive His enemies, whom Jesus implies have not fully comprehended their actions (v.34a). In praying for His enemies, Jesus fulfills the ethical duty He called His disciples to live up to in Luke 6:29-35. Jesus is determined to express compassion all the way to the grave.
As time passes, the crowd and the soldiers begin to mock and sneer at Jesus. The soldiers cast lots for Jesus’ clothing (v.34b) as predicted in Psalm 22:18, while the crowd and religious leaders mock and taunt Him, telling Him to save Himself if He is indeed to Christ (v.35). Their taunts play on the Jewish tradition which believed that God helps the righteous. The crowd is confident that Jesus is not the Christ, and they are comfortable with his execution.
The soldiers join in the taunts, offering Jesus wine vinegar that was used among the poor while taunting Jesus to save Himself if He is the King of the Jews (vv. 36-38). Luke consistently demonstrates that Jesus dies as the Christ—the King of the Jews.
One of the criminals then joins in the taunts, extolling Jesus to save Himself and the criminals too (v.39). But the other criminal rebuked him, reminding him that He should fear God, for the two criminals are rightly condemned while Jesus is dying as an innocent man (vv.39-41).
This criminal then turns to ask Jesus to remember him when he enters the kingdom. This man accepts Jesus claim to be a king, thus Jesus responds by informing Him that He will be with Jesus in paradise that very day (vv.42-43). Jesus’ immense compassion shines through yet again.
At midday darkness covered the whole land, a sign of God’s impending judgment. The land remained in darkness for three hours, when the curtain at the temple was torn in two (vv.44-45). From this point forward, the temple—with all its sacrifices and restricted access to God—will no longer be necessary. Jesus’ sacrifice is the last sacrifice, and He alone provides access to God.
Jesus then speaks his last words as He dies, handing everything over to God’s care (v.46). Upon His death, two reactions take place. First is a centurion, who praises God and announces that Jesus must have been innocent (v.47). He is the fourth person in Luke 23 to announce Jesus’ innocence. The second reaction come from the crowds, who depart while “beating their breasts” (v.48). The cosmic signs may have prompted them to consider if they just killed the Chosen One of God.
The account closes with a note that Jesus’ followers, including women who have followed Him from Galilee, stood and watched the events from a distance (v.49).
The Meaning of the Cross
At the narrative level, this episode clearly demonstrates Jesus’ compassion for all people—those who mourn for Him, those who believe in him, and even for those who mock Him and stand strongly opposed to Him. Jesus is so compassionate that He even intercedes on the latter group’s behalf, asking God to forgive them.
Likewise, as we widen the lens of Scripture, we see that the cross represents God’s immense compassion for all mankind.
The cross symbolizes many things to many people. But when you understand what God the Father and God the Son each sacrificed on the cross, one thing becomes evident: Only a deep love and compassion for humanity could bear the cost of the cross.
Consider the meaning of the cross from the whole of the New Testament:
…is a ransom paid for the debt of sin (Mark 10:45; 1Timothy 2:5-6)
…is a substitution—Jesus died in our place (John 6:51-52; Rom. 8:3; 2 Cor. 5:21)
…is a propitiation—it satisfies God’s justice (Rom. 3:25)
…represents the lifting up of Jesus—the victory over Satan (John 3:14-15; 12:31-32)
…is the means by which the church is purchased (Acts 20:28)
…is the sacrifice that ends all other sacrifices (Heb. 8-10).
…reconciles humanity and God, as well as Jew and Gentile (Rom. 5:8-11; 2 Cor. 5:20-21; Eph. 2:11-22; Col. 1:21-22; 2:11-15)
…allows God to justify us—declare us innocent or righteous-before him (Rom. 3:21-31).
At the cross: An insurmountable debt has been paid—a debt you owed/owe; Jesus died in your place; God’s wrath, rightly reserved for you, was absorbed by Jesus; Satan and sin were defeated; the Church was established; sacrifices for sin came to an end; God and man were reconciled; God declared all who believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection innocent before him.
Can you see God’s compassion at work here? Since He initiated all of this on our behalf, how should we rightly respond? Turn to God in recognition of Jesus’ innocence and your sin and resulting guilt before God, ask forgiveness of your sin, and live a life of devotion to God, His church, and to your neighbor with the same compassion for others demonstrated by Jesus.
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Luke 23:13-25 is the final episode in the trial of Jesus. Here, we see how an innocent Jesus died in the place of the unjust.
As the episode begins, Pilate gathers the religious leaders and rulers of the people to inform them that neither he nor Herod could find Jesus guilty of the charges brought against Him. Therefore, he planned to punish Him and release him (vv.13-16). Though he finds Jesus innocent, he knows that he has a political hot potato on his hands, so he tries to compromise with the Jewish leaders by offering to punish him. Literally, he offers to flog him, which involved a whip with metal tips. His hope is that a little innocent blood will satisfy the leaders.
Pilate’s compromise is unsatisfying to the leaders, who push Pilate to do away with Jesus and release Barabbas—a true insurrectionist (vv. 18-19). Barabbas has committed more serious crimes than Jesus, yet they want him released, and Jesus killed.
Pilate senses that something is wrong, so he pushes back once more, but is met with more cries of “Crucify, crucify him” (vv.20-21). Only Jesus’ death will satisfy them. More to the point, they desire that Jesus die a tortuous death reserved for the worst of criminals.
Pilate tries once more to release Jesus, noting that Jesus is not guilty of anything deserving death (v. 22). Again, notice the irony. The judge in the matter is acting as a defense attorney while the crowd is acting as the judge and jury. Luke is highlighting the fact that justice is not sentencing Jesus. Something more sinister is behind the crucifixion.
But the crowd would have nothing short of Jesus’ death, so they continue to cry for his crucifixion until Pilate acquiesces to their demands (vv. 23-24). Thus, Barabbas—the insurrectionist and murder—is set free while Jesus—an innocent man—is sent to his death (v. 25). Justice is not what sends Jesus to the cross. A sea of humanity has sent him there.
The Guilty Go Free
This final episode in Jesus’ trial demonstrates that Jesus died as a just man in the place of an unjust man (Barabbas). This, of course, is a picture of the gospel. In a sense, we are all Barabbas—guilty of sin and deserving of death, yet we are able to live because Jesus died. In the midst of all the injustice, God’s grace shines through in the end.
We are Barabbas
Put yourself in the place of Barabbas. How would you react if you were him? Regardless of how he reacted, most of us would probably be relieved and thankful to receive a new lease on life. Christians who understand what Jesus’ death on the cross accomplished understand that the story of Barabbas is our story. Jesus’ death freed us from the penalty of death, just as Barabbas was freed.
This is an important theological doctrine at the heart of Christianity. Although we are guilty, we have been set free. Although we deserve death, someone else unjustly died in our place. This should alter how we live the rest of our lives if we truly believe this doctrine.
The Christian walk should be a statement of gratitude to the One who took our place. When people see you, what do they see? Do they see a person who is grateful for what Christ accomplished on your behalf, or do they see a person who demonstrates the opposite of grace and gratitude?
The next time you’re feeling less than thankful, recall the story of Barabbas and how you fit into that story. You are Barabbas. You have been set free on account of Jesus. Let that change how you live each day. Be grateful for what Christ has done for you and let your gratefulness shine for others to see.
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Luke 23:1-12 is the continuation of the trial of Jesus, this time before Pilot and Herod. This account demonstrates the dangers of neutrality with regards to Jesus.
With the Jewish trial complete (Luke 22:66-71), the leadership take Jesus to Pilot, where they accuse him of (1) misleading the nation, (2) opposing the payment of taxes to Caesar, and (3) claiming to be a king (vv.1-2). The first two charges, if true, would challenge Pilot’s fundamental role of keeping the peace and collecting taxes. Of course, the reader of Luke understands that the charges are false, especially the second (Luke 20:20-26). The third charge is the most serious, since if Jesus had aspirations of being a king he would be a direct threat to Rome.
So Pilate presses Him on this point, asking Him if He is the King of the Jews, to which Jesus responds with a weak affirmative, implying that He is King of the Jews, but not in the sense that Pilate thinks (v.3). Pilate gets the drift and concludes that Jesus is of no threat and is innocent of the charges (v.4). That should have been the end of the matter, but the Jewish leadership press their case, arguing that He has stirred up trouble from Galilee to Jerusalem (v.5).
On hearing Galilee, Pilot finds an opportunity to wash his hands of the situation by sending Jesus to Herod, the one who had authority over that region (vv.6-7). Herod is excited to see Jesus in person, for he longed to see him and hoped to see Jesus perform a miracle (v.8). Then he questioned Jesus while the Jewish leadership continued to accuse Him, but Jesus did not answer (vv.9-10). Pilot had already declared Him innocent, so there was no reason for Him to speak now.
Herod and his soldiers then mock Jesus by dressing Him in some regal clothing and make fun of the “king,” before they sent Him back to Pilot (v.11). The episode ends with a Lucan note regarding how Pilot and Herod became friends that day (v.12). The note adds to Luke’s credibility as a historian because we know from other sources that the relationship between the two men improved greatly after Pilot’s boss—the anti-Semite Sejanus—passed away in AD 31. Luke’s account of Jesus can be trusted.
Jesus on Trial: The Danger of Neutrality
In this account, Luke again demonstrates the varied responses to Jesus. Neither Herod nor Pilate find any guilt in Jesus, but they don’t believe him either. They take a neutral position. However, their neutrality will not absolve them of their responsibility in Jesus’ death. They had the power to release Jesus and they failed; thus this episode reveals the dangers of taking a neutral position with regard to Jesus.
The Danger of Neutrality
In our modern world neutrality often sounds appealing when it comes to matters of religion. Many people claim neutrality with regard to Jesus out of fear of offending others, or perhaps because they don’t really believe or disbelieve anything about Jesus—they just don’t see how what they believe one way or the other makes any difference.
The problem with this approach is that, throughout Luke’s Gospel we see time-and-again that neutrality is never a viable option. Luke consistently calls the reader to make a decisive choice in regards to Jesus. Is He the Son of Man, Son of God and the Christ? Luke’s Gospel demonstrates that Jesus is all of these and more.
Because He is all of these things, He has the right to demand that we give of ourselves completely to follow Him. Thus, there is no room for neutrality—you’re either all in with Jesus or you’re not in at all.
I understand how harsh that sounds to a modern audience, but it’s really true. You either accept Jesus for who He is and the implications of that for your life, or you don’t.
Pilot and Herod are more subtle and passive in their rejection of Jesus compared to that of the Jewish leadership, but they reject Him just the same. Don’t be like these two men. Make a decisive choice in the affirmative for Jesus. The cost of rejection is serious and eternal—so choose wisely.
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Luke 22:54-71 details Jesus’ trial before the Jewish leadership, providing insight into the various ways people reject Jesus.
The episode begins as the arresting party leads Jesus to the house of the high priest, a procession that Peter followed at a distance (v.54). Upon arrival, Peter and the servants of the house sit by a fire in an open courtyard (v.55). The events of the evening have stirred the entire household.
One of the maidservants recognizes Peter and says for all to hear, “This man…was with him [Jesus],” to which Peter quickly denies knowing Jesus (vv.56-57). Sometime later someone approaches Peter and accuses him of being one of Jesus’ disciples, and again Peter quickly denies any association with Jesus (v.58). About an hour later another person accuses Peter of being a disciple of Jesus, recognizing that he is a Galilean, to which Peter denies knowing Jesus for the third time (vv.59-60a).
The text does not give any reason for his denials, but the uncertainty and inherent danger of the moment are possible explanations. That, and the fact that Peter and the other disciples failed to pray in preparation for this moment (Luke 22:39-46). The “Rock Man”—as Peter’s name implies—has been dashed to pieces under the weight of what it means to follow Jesus in this moment.
Immediately upon his third denial, a rooster crows and Jesus simultaneously turns to look at Peter, indicating he understands what just transpired. Jesus’ glance prompts Peter to recall how Jesus had told him earlier that he would deny him three times before the night was over (Luke 22:34). The weight of the moment then sinks in for Peter, who went outside and wept bitterly (vv.60b-62). The pain of his actions suggests that Peter’s allegiance is with Christ, though his lips have failed him. This is a failure of nerve.
Meanwhile, the soldiers guarding Jesus begin to mock, beat, and blaspheme him (vv.63-65). In their mocking, they refer to Jesus as a prophet—the most popular conception of Jesus. But the religious leadership needs a stronger charge than that to have Jesus tried before Rome. Rome worried about would-be kings, not prophets.
At daybreak, the leadership escorts Jesus to the council (probably the Sanhedrin) for further inquiry, where they demand to know if He is “the Christ” (v. 66a). The term denotes the Jewish expectation of a great political ruler. Thus, the question is designed to raise a political charge against Jesus so that they can claim to the Romans that he is a revolutionary—one who wishes to overthrow Caesar.
Jesus does not answer directly. Instead, He notes that they will not believe him regardless of what he says (vv.67-68). Their minds are made up regarding Jesus—they have no desire to get to the truth of Jesus’ identity.
Next, Jesus makes a remarkable claim when He says, “From now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God” (v.69). Here, Jesus refers to Himself as the supernatural figure from Daniel 7:13-14 who rides the clouds like God. The claim makes three points: (1) Jesus will be seated in God’s presence after his death and resurrection; (2) He has authority from God; (3) He has authority over them.
His interrogators follow-up with one more question, “Are you the Son of God, then?” Jesus does not deny that He is the Son of God—noting that they have said that He was. The audience takes His remark as an affirmation. They have all they need to send Him to trial before the Romans (vv.70-71).
With that, Jesus supplies the leadership with the evidence they have been seeking. In a real sense, Jesus sends Himself to the cross because He is faithful to His identity in the midst of people who reject Him. Unlike Peter, he makes no attempt to save his life by denying who he is.
This text illustrates varying degrees of rejection of Jesus. We learn that some reject Jesus by denying any association with him. Others reject Him via mocking while others reject Him by wanting nothing more than to have Him removed completely from view.
In the end, the text shows that Jesus—though supremely rejected—is the hero, for He stood trial in the place of all who would reject Him.
Some reject Jesus by denying their association
Peter shows how peer pressure and the threat of persecution can cause believers to deny Jesus. If we’re honest, many of us know what it’s like to deny Jesus. Maybe it wasn’t a verbal rejection such as Peter’s, but we have all denied Christ at some point via our actions or perhaps remaining silent when we should have spoken.
On the positive side, the entire story of Peter underscores an important point about the Christian faith—the goal of the Church is not to shoot its wounded, but to restore them. Although Peter failed here, He would eventually achieve great things for the Kingdom. His victory comes about through restoration, made possible because Jesus is all about forgiveness.
Don’t let your failures as a Christian mortally wound you. Instead, get into God’s Word and spend serious time in prayer and rebuild your spiritual walk.
Some reject Jesus by mocking
The guards show how some don’t take Jesus seriously—to them religion is a game. We all know people who have no time for religion and love to mock its existence. This is a shame, for what they treat as frivolous is deadly serious. Pretending to be above it, they reveal their need for it.
In our day, such mocking is prevalent on social media, which often draws the ire of Christians. When this occurs, we can—if we are not careful—respond in ways that are unsanctified which is itself a form of denying Jesus.
When people mock Christ, respond as he did—with grace and love. That is a prime way to demonstrate your allegiance to Christ.
Some reject Jesus by wanting him removed
The Jewish leadership represents those who want nothing more than Jesus’ presence to be removed altogether. To them, he is a nuisance, not a Savior King. Luke’s Gospel has routinely demonstrated the hardness of their heart, which further illustrates that a hard heart is a tough nut to crack.
That is why evangelism is fundamentally a supernatural undertaking. We cannot enter the heart as the Spirit can. Only the Spirit can prick the conscience. In the meantime, our job is to be a faithful witness in word and deed. As with the people above, Christ calls us to live lives of grace, truth, mercy, and love. Let others see the reality and presence of Jesus in you and let them be convicted by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus died for all who reject him
We must not fail to see that the most important element here is that Jesus’ trial is our trial. He stands where each of us ought to be standing. It is because of our sin that he stands there on trial.
The trial is all about His identity. He is the Christ, the Son of Man and the Son of God. Upon His resurrection, His claims were vindicated. He now sits at the right hand of the throne of God. Now in His full position of authority, Jesus becomes the judge asking each of us to issue a verdict in His earthly trial where He took our place.
All of us have a choice regarding Jesus: Will you respond favorably and believe His claims of deity, or will you reject him? If you reject Jesus, you will face the trial in which you deserve, standing before Him and having to give an account of why you rejected His claims.
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