Monday in the Thirty-First Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 27:1; Mark 15:1; Luke 22:66-71

Have You Changed Your Mind Yet?

The work of the Sanhedrin is almost done, the work of condemning Jesus, that is.  They will still have to get Pilate to sign off on it as the Romans only allowed themselves the indulgence of deciding and carrying out executions.  Jesus has been under arrest all night and dawn is now breaking.  Matthew and Mark report that the Sanhedrin met again but Luke tells us what happens in this final meeting.  Last night’s meeting was rushed and under the cover of darkness.  Pilate might have some reservations about the way this whole affair was conducted.  For being a cruel and ruthless people, the Romans really did care about law and procedure, and bequeathed much of that to the West, of which America is heir.  Anyway, they meet again in the morning and make certain that their accusation sticks.  Jesus claims to be the Son of God, which they contend is blasphemy.  The Romans don’t care about blasphemy, at least in Jewish terms; they do care about law and order, and if someone claims to be a Messiah and the Son of God, that may earn Pilate’s attention that this man could lead a rebellion.

So they put it to Jesus again: “If you are the Christ, tell us.”  “Christ” is Greek for “Messiah” which means “God’s chosen One,” the One who will one day sit upon the throne and rule and the earth in peace (Isaiah 11:1-9).  Jesus’ answer almost sounds tired; what’s the point of answering people whose mind’s are made up?  So he repeats what he said last night about being the Son of Man seated at the right hand of power.  Every member of the Council would have known that he was referring to Daniel 7:13-14 where the Son of Man is given dominion by God over all the nations – again a Messianic prophecy.  So they ask him, “Are you the Son of God, then,” a term which obviously expresses divinity. Jesus answers, “You say that I am,” a way of deflecting responsibility back on them, but is also a tacit confession, “Yes, I am.”  Christ, Son of Man, Son of God – all three titles in one short interrogation.  The Sanhedrin has all that it needs to approach Pilate.

Imagine having been beaten and abused all of a sleepless night.  Then your tormentors bring you back again in the morning to ask you the same round of questions.  I could see myself saying, “Whoa!  They’re giving me a chance to back out.  They’re saying to me, ‘One last chance.  Take it back.  Go away quietly.  And we’ll all forget the whole thing.  It’s better for you, it’s better for us.  Otherwise, the Romans are waiting for you.  What do you say?’”  And knowing what lies ahead, the temptation to walk away would be huge. Jesus stays the course.  And no, God doesn’t change his mind (1 Samuel 15:29).

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