What would you do if someone told you they were God? If you weren’t religious, you’d probably think they were crazy and laugh. But if you were religious, you’d likely be offended and appalled.
The religious leaders were looking for any reason they could to kill Jesus and stop his movement. It didn’t matter that they saw God’s anointing on him and prophetic and heavenly things happening through him. It didn’t matter that they were never successful in trapping him, no matter how many times they tried. It didn’t matter that they could never win a debate with him. They hated him, and their hate grew into murder.
Of course, when you’re trying to sentence someone to capital punishment on the electric chair, you need some dirt on them—and it’s kind of hard to get dirt on an innocent, sinless man. But when you’re also a parable-speaking prophet, it’s pretty easy to take you out of context and slander you. So they called forth witnesses to give them things they could rip Jesus apart over, eventually getting two people to agree that they had heard him say, “I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.” This was perfect, since this theological metaphor could be rearranged to sound like a physical threat.
Jesus didn’t say anything. He didn’t back himself up or clarify that he was symbolically talking about his death and resurrection. He knew this was a battle that he had to lose. Sure, it led to the cross, but the cross was the point. So instead of rebutting his accusers, he gave them more ammo. When they asked him if he was the prophesied “Son of God” that they had been waiting for, Jesus affirmed it and went the full distance with his implications: “Yes. And as the Son of God, you will soon see me sitting on the heavenly throne that Daniel prophesied about. You know that passage, right? Where some human suddenly rides the clouds like God himself does and then sits down on God’s throne and is given all authority over the whole earth? That’s me. I’m the God-Man. See you on judgment day.”
Have you ever seen someone lose their cool and be unable to come out of it? They spit on him and slapped him, some of them saying, “Prophesy Messiah! Tell us who just slapped you?” In this expression, you can imagine a group gathering around Jesus and slapping him over and over again. “How about now? Do you recognize the person now? No? Well let’s just slap you some more until you get it right!”
In due time, Jesus would then ride the clouds to Heaven as the God-Man where he would sit on the God-Man’s throne. And the cross was all a part of the plan to do so.
*This devotional was created out of the themes of Matthew 26:57-65 found in today’s reading at CommonPrayer.net. Below are the various AI-created pictures I typed into existence via Mid Journey to mock up artwork for today’s post.