Are You the Messiah, the Son of God? Matthew 26:62-64

After false witnesses claim Jesus threatened the Temple, the High Priest speaks directly to Jesus, asking him to defend himself. This is to provide the illusion of legality (Matthew 26:62-63). The high priest directly asks Jesus: Are you the Messiah? Jesus does not answer the false accusations, in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophet of the Messiah as a suffering servant, quiet as a lamb sent to slaughter. See Isaiah 53:7; Psalm 38:13-14 (in response to friends’ betrayal, violence, etc.)

Are you the Messiah?

Caiaphas is frustrated by Jesus’s silence and tries to bind him with an oath: “I adjure you by the living God.” This is a rare word in the New Testament. The verb ἐξορκίζω is only used here and in Acts 19:13-14 (and then in a textual variant, ὁρκίζω appears in the text). The word is used “to compel someone to do something by invoking a transcendent power” (BDAG). This explains why it is used in the context of an exorcism in Acts 19. In LXX Gen 24:3, Abraham compels his servant to swear an oath to God to obtain a wife for Isaac. Remember, Jesus taught his disciples not to swear oaths (Matt 5:37). In this context, Jesus does not swear an oath on God, as the high priest demands. Yet in the following story, Peter denies the Lord with an oath.

The high priest again asks Jesus (under oath) to answer the question: Is Jesus really the Messiah or not? This forces Jesus to claim directly that he is the Messiah or swear by God that he is not the Messiah (destroying his credibility with his followers).

Jesus agrees with Caiaphas but goes well beyond a confirmation that he is the messiah by quoting two messianic passages and applying them to this situation (26:64). “It is as you have said” is the same ambiguous statement that Jesus used when Judas asked if he was the betrayer. In Mark, Jesus simply says, “I am” (Mark 14:62). Brown and Roberts suggest, “if you say so” (Matthew, THNTC, 244).

The second part of his answer shocks the temple leadership. Jesus combines Daniel 7:13 and Psalm 110:1 to claim they will not see him until he is standing in judgment as the Messiah. In Psalm 110:1 David is exalted to the right hand of God “until I make your enemies your footstool.” Jesus inserts the “Son of Man” as the subject, the Son of man will be seated at the right hand of Power (God). Jesus regularly referred to himself as the Son of Man during his public ministry, so he is saying, “I am going to be seated at the right hand of God,” like the Messiah in Psalm 110. Read the rest of Psalm 110, the enemies will be shattered on the day of wrath (verses 5-6 are particularly apocalyptic).

Who are the enemies when Jesus quotes this verse? The high priest, chief priests, and scribes. The Temple aristocracy has put themselves into the position of “enemies of God” (like Jeremiah 7). They will be shattered along with the nations “on the day of his wrath.” (Later in Acts, the apostles quote Psalm 2, “why do the nations rage,” and apply it to the persecution coming from the high priest).

Daniel 7:13 is one of the most important passages for understanding messianic ideas in the first century. Jesus has used the Son of Man as a title throughout his ministry. In the context of Daniel 7, the son of man comes on a cloud before the ancient of days to receive authority to judge the nations (the four beasts in Daniel 7:1-8).

Jesus, therefore, does not directly say, “why yes, I am the Messiah.” Instead, he claims to be the Danielic Son of Man who will stand at the right hand of the father in heaven and render justice on the nations who oppose God, inaugurating the eschatological age (including destroying and rebuilding the temple).

The reaction to Jesus’s claim is to charge him with blasphemy (Matthew 26:65-68).

One thought on “Are You the Messiah, the Son of God? Matthew 26:62-64

  1. I am glad to see you take the title Son of Man as reference to the Daniel prophecy, where most know it alls say
    it only means a member of the human race.

    Woodrow Nichols

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