And they all asked, “Are you the Representative of God then?” (Luke 22:70 DT)After Jesus' response, they said:
Then they said, “What further need to we have for testimony? For we’ve heard it ourselves – from his own mouth!” (Luke 22:71 DT)It should be noted that the phrase, υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, has been translated to "Son of God" in many other translations. The reason why "Representative of God" is a better translation of υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ is discussed here.
Outside of this, we must question why Jewish chief priests and elders would depart from the traditional nomenclature regarding someone who claims to be from God. Nowhere in the Jewish teachings - of which Jesus followed - is there a mention of an individual son of God. There is mention of multiple "sons" of God twice - regarding the Nephilim - but no individual position of "son of God."
This would mean that suggesting that Jesus was a "Son of God" would be like some baseball players asking a new player if his position on the team was going to be forklift driver. This would be a ridiculous question because the baseball team doesn't have a position called forklift driver on the team.
Furthermore, it would make no sense that the chief priests and elders would become inflamed by Jesus suggesting that he was the "Son of God," and reacting in an offended manner.
This would be like the baseball players getting up in arms after the new player said he was going to play as the forklift driver. They surely wouldn't get upset with such a statement. Rather, they would probably just dismiss the guy as a clown and perhaps just laugh at him.
But if the new baseball player said that he was going to be starting pitcher for the team - then that might cause the players to be upset - especially the pitchers of the team.
Let's think about this carefully. The chief priests and elders would not be upset by Jesus stating that he held an entirely new position of "Son of God." But they would certainly be upset by the suggestion that Jesus was the Representative of God. Why?
Because they were claiming to be God's representatives. They were wearing the robes and considering themselves God's representatives - especially to those members and followers of the Jewish temple.
That is what "chief priest" means: It means one who is representing the Supreme Being. A priest is supposed to be God's representative. This was communicated regarding Abraham's spiritual teacher, Melchizedek, with the Hebrew phrase, וְהוּא כֹהֵן לְאֵל, which means, "priest of God the Most High." (Genesis 14:18)
The Supreme Being confirmed directly that a priest is His representative, as He instructed Moses:
"Then dress Aaron in the sacred garments, anoint him and consecrate him so he may serve Me as priest." (Exodus 40:13)Thus we find that a priest is a servant of the Supreme Being. Therefore, what the priest says - his instructions - are coming from the Supreme Being - making the priest, theoretically, God's representative.
Of course, theoretically this means that many who claim to be God's representative are neither serving Him nor representing Him. This is the case for those chief priests and elders who were questioning Jesus. They obviously were not God's representatives. Why?
Because God's representative would immediately recognize another representative of God. The Supreme Being is ultimately a person. This means that one who is transmitting what God is saying will be immediately recognized by another person who is transmitting what God is saying.
It is not as if God's message is different, depending upon who the priest is. God's message is consistent. Yes, God may have different specific instructions depending on the person, the time and the circumstance. But the universal message of God - His overall instruction is clear and unified:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)This instruction was not just Jesus' instruction. In fact, he was quoting Moses from Deuteronomy 6:5. Moses instructed his students to love God a number of times. And so did Joshua. And David. And all the Prophets, each in ways specific to their students and time and circumstance.
Just consider the many times Moses instructed his students to love God:
Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (Deut. 6:5)
Love the LORD your God and keep His requirements, His decrees, His laws and His commands always. (Deut. 11:1)
So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the LORD your God and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul— (Deut. 11:13)
If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow—to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to Him and to hold fast to Him— (Deut. 11:22)
"... because you carefully follow all these laws I command you today—to love the LORD your God and to walk always in obedience to Him—" (Deut. 19:9)
"For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to Him, and to keep His commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess." (Deut. 30:16)
"... and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." (Deut. 30:20)We also find that Joshua carried on Moses' teaching:
But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to Him, to keep His commands, to hold fast to Him and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Joshua 22:5)
So be very careful to love the LORD your God. (Joshua 23:11)We also find that David gave this clear instruction:
"Love the LORD, all His faithful people!" (Psalms 31:23)Over and over we find similar instructions from other Prophets - many mistranslated to "fear" from the Hebrew word יָרֵא (yare') - which means, according to the lexicon, to "revere" or "to stand in awe of, be awed" and "to cause astonishment and awe, be held in awe." (When one loves God, they also revere Him and hold Him in awe.)
The point being, love of God was not exclusively Jesus' teaching. It has been the primary teaching of all of God's representatives.
But we find that the Jewish Temple chief priests and elders were not passing on this teaching of Moses. They were too focused on gaining the respect and admiration of others - and focused upon obtaining more followers. This is why they were so upset that Jesus claimed to be God's Representative. Because they wanted that title.
But they didn't understand that having this title isn't about gaining the respect of others. It's not about others' admiration. And it's not about getting lots of followers.
It's about loving and serving the Supreme Being. It is about Him.
One might wonder why this instruction to love God is consistent among so many Prophets along with Jesus and others since?
Because the Supreme Being wants us to love Him. Because the Supreme Being knows that this is what will make us happy. When we are loving the Supreme Being, we are embracing our natural position. The Supreme Being created each of us to engage in a loving relationship with Him. Why else would God create other beings?
Why else would the Supreme Being create independent living beings? Certainly, the Supreme Being doesn't need anyone to serve Him. He has everything, and He created everything. Certainly, the Supreme Being doesn't need people running around disclaiming Him, or fighting over His property, or blaspheming Him the way some people do.
Why, then, would the Supreme Being create people who deny His existence? Why would God create unbelievers?
Why would God create those who oppose Him - or claim He doesn't exist - or claim that they are God - or claim that everything is God and thus ignore Him? Why would He create some people who hate others and even murder others?
Indeed, these very questions have been seized upon by many as proof that the Supreme Being doesn't exist.
And sadly, sectarian institutions that do not represent God can't answer these questions. They cannot answer them because they do not know the Supreme Being.
So what is the answer to these questions?
The answer is simple. The Supreme Being created each of us with the freedom to love Him or not. If He didn't give us the freedom not to love Him, then where is the question of love? How could we truly love someone if we were forced to love that person, with no option not to love them?
The freedom not to love is necessary for love.
This also requires the freedom to reject God completely. The freedom to deny God's existence. And the freedom to reject any or all of His instructions and principles, including loving others.
Truly having the freedom not to love God also means having the freedom to become a complete demon. Having the freedom to not just deny God's existence - but to harm others. And certainly, some have chosen to do this, despite the fact that this displeases Him.
We see this by the fact that these supposedly religious people - the chief priests and elders - ended up being responsible for the cruel persecution of Jesus.
But don't confuse freedom with a lack of justice. The Supreme Being has set up the ultimate system of justice from lifetime to lifetime: Everyone must suffer the consequences of prior activities. Such a system is not only just: It also helps teach us how it feels to hurt others; without taking away our freedom to continue to make the wrong choices.
And doing that would effectively eliminate our opportunity to someday have a change of heart and desire to return to His loving arms and love and serve Him.
Biblical verses in this commentary are from the New International Version or The Gospels of Jesus (DT).