Mark 14: 53 – 65 Jesus before the Sanhedrin

Mark 14: 53 – 65 Jesus before the Sanhedrin

They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together. Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.

The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.

Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: ‘We heard him say, “I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.” ’ Yet even then their testimony did not agree.

Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, ‘Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?’ But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.

Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’

‘I am,’ said Jesus. ‘And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’

The high priest tore his clothes. ‘Why do we need any more witnesses?’ he asked. ‘You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’

They all condemned him as worthy of death. Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, ‘Prophesy!’ And the guards took him and beat him.

*       *       *

The administration of justice under Judaism was intended to be impartial. The following elements were necessary if the accused were to be convicted of a capital crime.

  • At least two witnesses had to agree on what had happened
  • The witnesses must not be related to each other
  • The witnesses had to have been present at the crime, and each seen that the other was present
  • At the time of the crime, both witnesses must have shouted a warning to the accused telling him not to commit the crime.
  • The court had to examine each witness separately. If the evidence was inconsistent, in even a small detail, the testimony was treated as suspect and disregarded.

It was actually made deliberately difficult to convict someone on a capital charge.

In Jesus’ trial the Sanhedrin seem to have wanted to satisfy the legal requirements. This may have been because they didn’t want the conviction to be open to challenge, either by the Romans or by the crowds who followed Jesus, or perhaps because some among them were sympathetic to Jesus’ teaching. It may even have been that those present sincerely wished to see the law observed in every detail – nit-picking observance of a complex set of rules was, after all, the way they lived their lives.

They examined a number of ‘witnesses’, but their testimony never agreed. The Sanhedrin struggled to find grounds to convict Jesus. Eventually, the high priest decided to question Jesus himself. He “stood up before them and asked Jesus, ‘Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?’”

Jesus had no need to answer such a question. He “remained silent and gave no answer.”

The high priest then took the most desperate measure of all. He sought to have Jesus incriminate himself by blaspheming in front of the court.

“Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’”

Jesus would have known that answering ‘Yes’ to this question meant his certain death; indeed, that was the matter he had been wrestling with all night in Gethsemane. And now we see the answer God the Father gave to his prayer in Gethsemane. Jesus was ready for what followed, he had the spiritual strength to accept his part in our salvation, and there was no hesitation in his answer.

“‘I am,’ said Jesus. ‘And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’”

And this is it. The high priest has been asked Jesus whether he is the Messiah, and Jesus has answered truthfully. Indeed, he has been explicit about his relationship with God.

Jesus’ statement is an implied question, and it turns the questioning on its head. It is no longer the court asking questions, it is Jesus asking the single most important question.

‘Do you accept me as the Messiah, and the Son of God?’

We can see from Mark’s account the answer given by the Sanhedrin.

“The high priest tore his clothes. ‘Why do we need any more witnesses?’ he asked. ‘You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’

They all condemned him as worthy of death. Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, ‘Prophesy!’ And the guards took him and beat him.”

Complete rejection and denial. Disorder and violence. Mockery and humiliation.

Hardening of the intention to see Jesus done to death.

‘Do you accept me as the Messiah, and the Son of God?’

That’s a question we all need to hear and answer. It really is as stark as that. Jesus either is the Messiah or he isn’t, and if he isn’t then we live by human values and human wisdom alone. And the Sanhedrin’s response shows us just what that means.

Prayer

Heavenly Father

Thank you that we don’t need to live by human wisdom. Thank you that when we follow Jesus, you give us the strength to do your will. Thank you that the resurrection of Jesus shows us that your plan is triumphant.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

Published by pennygadd51

I write. I've written many pieces of flash fiction, dozens of short stories and two novels, with a third in progress.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: