“When You See Such Blind Ignorance, What Do You Think?” (Luke 22:63 – 23:1)

Midweek Lenten Service
Wednesday, March 23, 2022

“When You See Such Blind Ignorance, What Do You Think?” (Luke 22:63 – 23:1)

Tonight we’re going to look at how Luke describes the trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrin. Luke’s account is focused and shorter than the other gospels. It’s simplified, streamlined, stripped down. But what does Luke give us? Well, first, he tells us what those who had arrested Jesus were already doing to him, and from that it becomes clear where all this is going. Even before Jesus stands in front of the Sanhedrin, even before they have a chance to reject him, those who arrested Jesus were already beating and mocking and blaspheming against him. As far as they’re concerned, this is going in a certain direction, and it’s almost a done deal. It’s clear; it’s simple: Jesus will be condemned.

Next, notice this. We see that the council, the Sanhedrin, is speaking effectively with one voice. Note the word “they.” Three times “they” speak to Jesus, with one voice: “And they said”; “So they all said”; and “Then they said.” And at the last, “The whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate.” Evil is speaking with one, unified voice.

Jesus himself also speaks. But when the Lord replies to what “they” say to him, he doesn’t really answer in a way that gives them any traction. The first time they speak to Jesus, they say, “If you are the Christ, tell us!” But Jesus says, “If I tell you, you won’t believe, and if I ask you, you won’t answer.” “It’s like this,” Jesus is saying, “You don’t really care what I say. You’re blindly against me. Your mind is made up, and nothing can change it. All you know is where you want to go with this.” Jesus then adds, “From now on I, the Son of Man, will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” It’s coming soon, Jesus says. My victory, my exaltation to God’s right hand. Beware and repent. Believe.

But Jesus’ words go right past them. They just want to get enough against Jesus to hand him over to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, who has the authority to execute Jesus. For the second time, they speak: “So you are the Son of God, then?” Again Jesus answers in an indirect way: “You say that I am.” “Do you hear yourselves? You don’t even hear what you’re saying about me; you don’t believe what’s coming out of your own mouths.”

No, they don’t believe–they just want to get it done. So they speak for the third time: “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.” Heard what? They didn’t really need to hear anything. They’re so bent on destroying Jesus that they didn’t really need any testimony at all. But now they think they have enough. They’re ready to take Jesus to Pilate so he can crucify him. With one voice, with one intent, the Sanhedrin is determined to eliminate Jesus. They’re captive to their own unbelief.

Unbelief is blind ignorance. Unbelief is blindness–the inability to see spiritually. And it is ignorance. The problem when you’re both ignorant and blind is, you don’t even realize what’s going on. Satan is behind all the evil that’s coming against Jesus. But do you think the Sanhedrin is aware of this? Are any of them thinking, “Well, Satan is really our master, and we’re following him right now”? That’s hard to imagine. They are blind and ignorant.

The Sanhedrin was wrong in two ways at the same time. First, they thought that by killing Jesus they were serving God and getting rid of a dangerous blasphemer. They were wrong about that. Second, they had no clue that their blind, ignorant plan would, in fact, serve the purposes of the God they thought they knew. Their unbelief made them wrong, twice.

Because Jesus is God’s Son. And God’s plan in the world and for the world will happen in Jesus. And it will produce the greatest reversal of all time. The first will be last, and the last will be first. Indeed, Jesus, the first, willingly becomes the last. The evil planned against him will reach its goal. Even before the trial, they treated him like a condemned man. With one voice, during the trial and after it, they reject Jesus and hand him over to Pilate to die by execution on a cross. The first, Jesus, chooses in love to become the last.

And the last will become first. God let the evil come against Jesus so that it would not come against you. Sin and Satan and even God’s righteous judgment came against the innocent, pure Son of God. But on the third day Jesus stripped off the sin and guilt laid upon him, and his life destroyed death. Satan was overcome and defeated. And God’s judgment was overturned by God himself when the Son of Man was raised from the dead, to sit at the right hand of God’s power. “They” meant it for evil, in their blind ignorance. But God meant it for good, in his stunning reversal and grace.

Now, how might we respond to this account of evil that speaks with one voice against the innocent Son of God? One response might be to say: “How could they do that? I would never do such a thing! I would never be so blind or so ignorant!” But that would be a kind of pride, a sort of arrogance. “They” did that, but “I” would never do such a thing!

It was that sort of arrogance that helped blind and deceive the Sanhedrin in the first place. Think of it. Why did they hate Jesus so? The Jewish religious leaders got really upset, because Jesus won’t let them compare themselves with others and come out on top. You know the game: “Well, sure, I’m a sinner, but at least I’m not as bad as he is.” Or, “I’ve made mistakes in life, but how could they do that?” But you can’t play that game if you’re going to reckon with Jesus. Over and over again, he rejects that kind of arrogance.

We see that throughout Luke’s gospel. In Luke 4, the people in the Nazareth synagogue try to kill Jesus. They thought they had some special “in” because he was from their town, but Jesus tells them that they’re no different than Gentiles. God wants to show mercy to everyone. It’s a level playing field with God. No comparisons allowed.

In Luke 7, Jesus is in the house of Simon the Pharisee, and he lets a sinful woman literally pour out her gratitude on his feet and wipe his feet with her hair! And the Pharisee thinks Jesus is not even a prophet because he doesn’t know what sort of woman this is. But Simon is the blindly ignorant one, because he’s thinking, “Well, I’m not like her.” He was not ready to admit, like that woman did, that he too he needed to be forgiven by Jesus.

In Luke 15, Jesus tells parables in which a great celebration happens before God when “one of those people” repents. Jesus is like the father who runs out to welcome an unclean, shameful son who doesn’t deserve to be treated like a son at all. To the father in the parable, the younger brother and the older brother are both loved. And then there’s the parable in Luke 18, where a Pharisee and a tax collector are praying in the temple, and the Pharisee says, “I thank you, God, that I am not like other men; I’m not like that tax collector.”

Over and over again, Jesus seeks to destroy the arrogance that compares. He destroys the pecking order; he cancels the comparison game. In his presence, there are no distinctions. This is nothing more or less than utter grace. But they hated him for that. And by nature, so would I, and so would you.

So when we see the evil, blind ignorance of the men who handed Jesus over to Pilate, don’t give in to arrogance. Don’t think, “I would never do that.” Instead, think, “There but for the grace of God go I.” And let there be in your heart a godly fear over what we are capable of, should the blindness and arrogance ever overcome us. It’s a godly fear that remembers that we don’t get the credit for our faith. To God alone be the glory.

And then there’s this as well. There are many people trapped in blind ignorance today. Ask God to put compassion in your heart for those people. Think of it: When the greatest evil in the history of the world was happening–when nails were being driven into the hands and feet of the Son of God–Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” Compassion–when we see spiritual blindness and ignorance in our world today. Ask God to help you show compassion for those who do not know, who cannot see.

Tonight we pray God will grant us humility and a godly fear, not an arrogant comparing; and the gift of compassion. And finally, a grateful wonder. Our reading tonight helps us to gain a sense of wonder that our God works in the world in the ways that he does. You cannot stop his desire to save; you cannot keep his plan from happening. Even human blindness and ignorance bow before him. They meant everything they did to Jesus for evil. But God meant it for good. His Son died as the innocent one in our place. Then Christ rose in victory and with the authority to forgive and to save. What a wonder our God is!

So, yes–a grateful wonder. God has opened our eyes and enlightened our minds to know and believe in this Jesus. To God be all the glory for our faith, this Lenten season and always. And may God also use us to offer the message of Jesus to whomever we meet. For all are precious to him.

Published in: on March 23, 2022 at 12:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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