“Can you refer me to a helpful explanation of what exactly the Lord Jesus meant when he spoke (to) the High Priest in Matthew 26.64?”
Matthew 26:64 ESV
Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Caiaphas used this statement by Jesus as his only evidence to assert that Jesus was a blasphemer and deserved death. To him, Jesus had definitely crossed the line with the statement. What was Jesus saying?
- He affirmed Caiaphas’ charge that he claimed to be the Christ, the Son of God. The idiomatic statement “You have said so” was understood as a direct confirmation.
- He implied that more evidence would follow. The statement “but I tell you, from now on…” is the equivalent of the modern colloquialism “you ain’t seen nothing yet.”
- His challenge was not specifically to Caiaphas, but to all of the people he represented. The second “you” in the verse is plural in the Greek, and so is the third “you”. He is speaking to the Sanhedrin Council. He asserts that they will personally see that Jesus is who he says he is at some point in the future. By extension, this challenge applies to all unbelieving Jews and all other nations and individuals who reject Christ in this life.
- Particularly, Jesus claims to be the one who will fulfill Daniel’s vision of the Son of Man who comes in the clouds (Daniel 7:13-14). This is a reference to his second coming. This explains when this revelation will ultimately take place.
- Jesus’ reference to his being “seated at the right hand of power” seems to come from Psalm 110:1-2. This messianic prediction speaks of a time when the Messiah will rule over the earth, and God will defeat all of his enemies. Caiaphas would have understood this statement as a direct rejection of his authority as high priest. Jesus implied that by rejecting him, Caiaphas had sided with all other authorities who reject God, and will suffer their fate.
Why would Jesus use the enigmatic phrase “from now on” (Greek ap arti) if he was referring to his second coming? I think he implied that the first evidence of his messiahship and coming glory was going to be the crucifixion itself. It was the crucifixion that the Sanhedrin was calling for. Jesus was tying together the two divergent aspects of the Messiah by saying that the suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 is going to prove to be the Son of Man of Daniel 7. Remember that all the members of the Sanhedrin affirmed the concept of the coming Messiah in principle.
This should serve as a wake-up call for all of those who claim to believe in God and the Bible but are not yet ready to subscribe to the lordship of Jesus Christ, and to join his church. The trial that day was not a debate between atheists and theists. It came down to one man: a carpenter’s son from Nazareth. The ultimate fate of millions of people depended upon the Sanhedrin’s willingness to accept that Jesus was who he said he was. They were unwilling.
The gospel affirms that Jesus is who he said he was. Those willing to accept that claim will not be ashamed when they see him coming in the clouds.