Mistaken Identity (Luke 22:63-22:71)

A few years ago my sister, Amie Kiehn, was placed on the “no fly” list for being a suspected terrorist. She was sitting on the plane on the tarmac when the speaker came on saying, “Amal Kahn, please come to the front of the plane.” My sister looked around and there was no movement. Again the speaker came on, “Amal Kahn, you need to get off the plane immediately.” Everyone could sense this was more serious than a routine problem. Everyone’s heads were turning to see if Amal Kahn would respond to this command.  The speaker came on a third time, “Amal Kahn, sitting in 22 B you need to get off the plane now.” My sister looked up and realized that she was sitting in 22 B. Before she could even process what was happening, she was asked by airline personnel to leave the plane.  Unfortunately for my sister, her name in the computer was shortened so it no longer appeared as Amie Kiehn, but as international terrorist Amal Kahn. An 18 year old college freshman was mistaken as an international jihadist terrorist.

It was a simple case of mistaken identity. The airline was extremely confident that my sister was a terrorist, but upon further investigation it was clear that they had mistaken her true identity. Although cases of mistaken identity are common, they are easily corrected with a little bit of investigation. In a growing biblically illiterate world, more and more people are misunderstanding the true identity of Jesus Christ. People may be confident in their idea of Jesus Christ, but confidence does not equal truth. We need to investigate the identity of Jesus Christ. Who is Jesus? It is one of the most important questions any of us will ever ask. And the consequences for mistaking his identity will be far worse than being place on a “no fly” list. The consequences will be eternal. Is Jesus merely a good teacher? Is he merely a prophet? Or is he the Son of God?

These questions have been asked for 2,000 years. The true identity of Jesus Christ was the basis for his trial following his arrest in the garden. As we investigate the Scriptures, I pray you will see four distinctive roles that will help you identify the Jesus revealed of the Bible and trust him. 

Trust in Jesus as our Prophet

       To say that the basis of the trial was to discover the true identity of Jesus is a little misleading, because the decision had already been made about His identity. The main concern of the people involved in the trial was not to discover who Jesus was, but to punish him for who he claimed to be. We see this first in how the officers were taunting Jesus to prove he was a prophet, verse 63,

Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him. They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” And they said many other things against him, blaspheming him. (Luke 22:63-65)

As they beat him, they called out to him to prove that he was a prophet as they struck him.  And yet, they do not realize the simple fact that because they were striking him they were proving that he was a prophet.  Luke 18:31-33,

And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.”

Jesus was a prophet and was the One who the prophets spoke about. 

      The three main spiritual roles in the Old Testament were prophet, priest and the king.  We see Jesus fulfilling the first of those offices here. He was the Word made flesh who spoke the word to all flesh.  Jesus Christ was the preeminent prophet of God.  These soldiers were mocking and cursing Jesus, uttering all kinds of blasphemies against him. The language of Luke connotes a disdain for the treatment of Christ. Luke was disgusted at the treatment of Jesus. These soldiers meant to condemn Christ, but only brought upon their own condemnation. Psalm 69 epitomizes the pain of Jesus along with the retribution that will fall on those who do not repent,

You know my reproach, and my shame and my dishonor; my foes are all known to you. Reproaches have broken my heart, so that I am in despair. I looked for pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none. They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink. Let their own table before them become a snare; and when they are at peace, let it become a trap. Let their eyes be darkened, so that they cannot see, and make their loins tremble continually. Pour out your indignation upon them, and let your burning anger overtake them. May their camp be a desolation; let no one dwell in their tents. For they persecute him whom you have struck down, and they recount the pain of those you have wounded. Add to them punishment upon punishment; may they have no acquittal from you. Let them be blotted out of the book of the living; let them not be enrolled among the righteous. (Psalm 69:19-28)

Jesus is the great prophet. These soldiers may mock Christ now, but they will not mock him forever. One day they will have to pay for how they treated the Son of God.

      We do not have the ability to beat the living Christ as these soldiers did, but that does not mean we do not have the ability to mock the living Christ. We mock Christ Jesus when we live according to the flesh. Paul writes to the Galatians, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”  We honor Christ as a prophet when we listen to his words and obey his voice.

      Mistaking Jesus’s identity as a Prophet will impact our trust that His words will come to pass. We need to trust in Jesus as the Prophet. His words will come to pass. We show our trust by believing in his Words. We show our trust by obeying his Words.

Trust in Jesus as our King

      The trial continues as Jesus is brought before the chief priests and the scribes. It is interesting to note that this trial scene differs slightly from the account in Matthew and Mark. It appears that Luke combines the first and the second meetings of the Sanhedrin into one account. We do not exactly know the why Luke combines them, but we do know that the question of Jesus’ identity is at the center of this accusation. Verse 66 says, “When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes and their council, and they said, ‘If you are the Christ tell us.’” Jesus as the Christ, the Son of David, is a theme throughout Luke’s gospel and especially brings back the birth narrative at the beginning.

It was said to the shepherds, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11)
It was said of Simeon that, “it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. (Luke 2:26)
It was said of John the Baptist, “As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ. (Luke 3:15)
It was said of the demons, “And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ. (Luke 4:41)
It was said by Peter that Jesus was, ““The Christ of God.” Luke 9:20

In many ways, Luke’s gospel was to prove that Jesus was the Christ. Christ is a royal title for the Messianic King who was going to come and rule over his people.

      The leaders were not investigating to see if he was the Christ, but only to prove that Jesus believed he was the Christ.  They did not believe that Jesus was the Christ. They did not choose to submit to him as the Messianic King. And Jesus knew what was in their heart for he replied, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer.” Jesus has already discovered from his interaction in Luke 20:1-8 in his dialogue with them about John the Baptist that they were not going to answer his questions. They were afraid of the people’s response so they would not commit to one side or the other. I find it very interesting that Jesus begins by saying, “If I tell you, you will not believe.” Jesus knows that their mind is made up and there is nothing that he can say to convince them. They have hardened their hearts and Jesus realizes there is nothing he can say to change their mind.

      We all have been in conversations where people ask questions, not because they want to know the answer, but they want to prove a point.  The elders wanted to prove a point regardless of the facts.  They were blind to the true identity of Jesus Christ. Jesus has already proclaimed throughout his ministry that he was the Christ, but the people were blind to it.   2 Corinthians 4:3-5 says,

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 

The elders did not want to see Jesus as the Christ because they eyes had been blinded by the god of this world. 1 Corinthians 12:3, “Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.”

      Let me offer a humbling, yet encouraging word for our evangelism. The Incarnate Christ, the King of glory, said his evangelism or testimony would have been ineffective because of the hardness of their hearts. There are some people who have already made their mind up about Christ and there is nothing we can say to change their minds. This happened to Jesus and it will happen with us. Now we are not Jesus and we do not know beforehand that people are not going to respond, but we know that some will not respond regardless of our words. Faith is a gift from God. One can only say Jesus is the Christ by the help of the Holy Spirit of God. 

      I find this incredibly encouraging in my evangelism, because I do not have to depend primarily on my delivery or my knowledge.  I trust in the Spirit of God to awaken hearts and give faith.  If some people would not believe Jesus was the Christ if the Christ spoke, we should not be discouraged if people do not respond to us. We just keep sharing.

      Mistaking Jesus’s identity as the King will impact our trust His reign over our lives. If we do not see Jesus as King, we will not submit to Him. A prophet tells of what is going to happen, a King makes a declaration of how his people are called to live. If we only see Jesus as a good teacher, we put ourselves in a position to accept or reject his teaching, but if we see Jesus as our King, we have no choice, but to submit to his teaching. This is particularly challenging for the West that has an aversion to submission. Jesus is not only some teacher we listen to, but a King we submit to.

      This is one of the reasons I teach so frequently about church membership. Jesus the King has given the keys of His kingdom to the Church. Matthew 16,

Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:16-19)

Church Theologian Jonathan Leeman has said that we do not join a church, as if it was a club, but rather we submit to church. The King has established his kingdom. The kingdom is more than the church, but it is not less than the church. Shepherds serve under the authority of the Chief Shepherd.
  One of the ways you can diagnose if you are experiencing a case of mistaken identity of Jesus as your King is to examine your views of the local church. I believe how we view the local church will help us see if we are living for Jesus as our King. Trust in Jesus as the Christ, the Messianic King of glory by submitting to Him.

Trust in Jesus as our Judge

      Jesus does not answer the leaders’ question directly, but goes even farther. They are trying to judge him, but He reveals that he is going to be the judge of the world. Verse 69-70,

But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.” 

It is clear that Jesus’s reference to the Son of Man is a reference to himself. Jesus is saying that He is going to be seated at the right hand of the power of God. And the elders interpreted his respond as His claim that he was the Son of God because that is exactly what they asked him the follow up question. Jesus not merely a good teacher, but he is the divine Son of God who will judge of the living and the dead.

      Jesus is referencing the key Old Testament text in Daniel 7:13-14 and Psalm 110. Jesus is referring to himself as the divine Son of Man in Daniel 7 who has dominion and rule over all peoples, tribes and nations with a kingdom that will never be destroyed.   And he is also referring to Himself as the Divine Messiah who will rule and judge in Psalm 110. Psalm 110 is an important Psalm throughout the New Testament as it is mentioned the Gospels, Acts, Hebrews, the Pauline epistles and in Peter’s letters. That being said, it would be wise to take a moment and read the entire psalm.

The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” The LORD sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies! Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours. The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” The Lord is at your right hand; he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath. He will execute judgment among the nations, filling them with corpses; he will shatter chiefs over the wide earth. He will drink from the brook by the way; therefore he will lift up his head. (Psalm 110)

The one who sits at the right hand of God is the one who will judge the nations. 

      How should you respond to Christ being our judge? We should repent and trust in Christ alone for our salvation. Paul encourages the Athenians to repent in Acts 17:30-31 for God has fixed a day for everyone to face judgement.

The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31)

Do you view Jesus as your judge? Many people do not think of Jesus as their judge, but only a good teacher who spoke of peace. The Bible does speak of Jesus as a good teacher who wants peace, but that peace comes at a price. Everlasting peace only comes when blood is shed.  Jesus reconciles all things to Himself by making peace by the blood of His cross (Col. 1:20). Jesus publicly testifies before the Sanhedrin that he is the One who will sit at the right hand of God until it is time to make all his enemies his footstool. He is the One who will come as described in Revelation 19:11-16,

 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

Beloved, Jesus is a good teacher, but he is much, much more than that.  Trust in Jesus as your judge as revealed from his very own mouth.

      The priests thought his testimony was blasphemy, so they said in verse 71, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his lips.” Jesus’ own words condemn him and led him to fulfill his last role as priest.

Trust in Jesus as our Priest

Throughout his earthly ministry, Jesus lived as a prophet, testified he was the Christ and the Judge, but He came to be our high priest. The reason Jesus stood before the council was so that he would be condemned and die for sinners. He had to come and die because without a shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Jesus had to come and fulfill the high priest’s office by offering himself as a sacrifice for sins.

But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Hebrews 10:12-14)

Notice that Christ is now seated at the right hand of God, because he offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins. We see what Christ has done for us. Jesus offered his life as a ransom and became our merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, making the propitiation for the sins of the people (meaning through laying down his life, he satisfied the wrath of God on our behalf). 

Jesus, our High Priest, offered a single sacrifice for sins. Bryan Chappell gives a good picture of this sacrificial love from his hometown of two brothers playing on the sandbanks by the river’s edge.

Few things are more fun for children than playing on these mountainous sandpiles - and few things are more dangerous. While the sand is still wet from the river’s bottom, the dredges dump it on the shore. The piles of sand dry with rigid crusts that often conceal cavernous internal voids, formed by the escaping water. If a child climbs on a mound of sand that has such a hidden void, the external surface easily collapses. Sand from higher on the mound then rushes into the void, trapping the child in a sinkhole of loose sand. This is exactly what happened to the two brothers as they raced up one of the larger mounds.
When the boys did not return home at dinnertime, family and neighbors organized a search. They found the younger brother. Only his head and shoulders protruded from the mound. He was unconscious from the pressure of sand on his body. The searchers began digging frantically. When they had cleared the sand to his waist, he roused to consciousness.
“Where is your brother?” the rescuers shouted. “I’m standing on his shoulders,” replied the child.
With the sacrifice of his own life, the older brother had lifted the younger to safety. With similar selflessness the One who is not ashamed to call himself our brother saved us despite our waywardness (see Heb. 2:11).[1]

Beloved, do not mistake the true identity of Christ. He will one day be your Judge, but He came to be your priest. He chose to be condemned with his own words so you could stand on His shoulders now and let him lift you to safety. Trust Him as the Priest who died in your place.