“Jesus said to him, ‘That’s what you say. Nevertheless, I tell you from now on you will witness the Son of Man seated at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven.’”
“But Jesus said, ‘I am. and you will see the Son of Man seated on the right hand of power and coming with the clouds from heaven.’”
“‘From now on, the Son of Man will be seated on the right hand of the Power of God.’ So, they all said to him, ‘Are you therefore the Son of God?’ So he said to them, ‘You say that I am.’”
On a surface level there would seem to be a bit of a discrepancy between Mark’s account of Jesus’ statements and the account recorded by Matthew and Luke. Of course, they all record the questioning of Caiaphas that leads up to this point, asking Jesus if he is the Christ. Yet, in the record of Jesus’ response there is some variation. Mark records Jesus as plainly affirming the question by stating, ejgo/ eijmi — “I am.” Matthew and Luke, on the other hand, record Jesus saying, “That’s what you say” and “You say that I am” respectively.
So, what shall we make of this? We know in approaching the text that this is the Inspired word of God, so we cannot dismiss the potential discrepancy as an error in the record, but must ask the question as to how these two presentations fit together. The simple harmony would be to see Jesus making both statements and each Gospel writer presenting what they considered to be the most significant portion of what Jesus said, but the question that follows would be as to why. In addition, based on the statements of Jesus to follow that he is not hiding his divine claim, so the suggestion that Jesus’ statement, “That’s what you say,” is meant to hide his identity is unfounded, thus we must look deeper.
Imagine the conversation (based on the three accounts) sounding something like this:
Caiaphas: “Are you the Christ?”
Jesus: “That’s what you said and I am. And from this time on, you will see me…”
Caiaphas: “Then are you the Son of God?”
Jesus: “You already said that I am.”
The reality is that by Caiaphas’ extreme action, arrest, trial, and planned execution of Jesus, he is betraying that he understands that Jesus is the promised Messiah and he wants nothing of him because a Messiah would bring change to his power, wealth, and authority as High Priest. Thus, he is condemning himself by his own actions. Think about it, conspiracy theories abound in our culture today and they often make quite entertaining fiction. Yet, in most cases, the entities about which the conspiracy theories revolve typically don’t make much of a fuss over the matter. But when a fuss is made and a cover-up attempted, it is typically a clue that there is perhaps something to such a theory. Here is one more illustration of that principle. If Caiaphas thought Jesus a ridiculous impostor, he would largely have ignored him and discredited him based on Biblical prophesies about the Messiah. Such a thing never happened; instead, Caiaphas sought to cover up the truth by putting Jesus to death. Something is to be said for Caiaphas’ acknowledgment and rejection — and Jesus does so by speaking judgment, but we get ahead of ourselves.
While it is easy to judge Caiaphas for his wickedness, as Christians we also ought to take into account the way we speak and act as well as the times we reject Jesus by our words and actions. How often, when given the opportunity to take a stand for the Truth of God’s word, we back down. How often we simply speak or act in a way that dishonors God. How often we too need to be reminded that in judgment we will see Jesus sitting at the right hand of power as judge and will be held accountable for our actions and words. The good news is that in repentance there is forgiveness, but do not forget, beloved, that repentance means we turn away from our sins and seek Christ and his righteousness. May we indeed do just that.