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The Arrest and Trial of the Son of Man

Date: Apr. 19, 2020

Author: Michael Mark

Mark 14:43-65

Key Verse: Mark 14:62

"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."

Have you ever been in a situation where you were going to get in trouble, but spared from punishment because somebody took the responsibility?  When I was in fifth grade, if the whole class got in trouble, we would have to write a sentence “I will not be disruptive in class” 1000 times.  The teacher would check all of our papers, then she’d take them, show them to the class and drop them in the trash.  She said this is what happens when you don’t listen, you waste everyone’s time.  Now this next story is a true story from someone I know.  One time there was a substitute teacher, and the class got really noisy.  The sub got really angry, but instead of punishing the whole class, she singled out one girl who was actually quiet the whole time, and made her say sorry on behalf of the class.  That girl didn’t defend herself, but she could have.  She didn’t call anyone out and say, this person or that person was louder than me.  She apologized, and the whole class was let off the hook.  As for the little girl, she probably didn’t fully understand what happened, but she saved the class from punishment.  She may have wondered why the teacher made her do that, and may have even said it out of fear.  I don’t know why the substitute teacher picked her, or if the person even knew who was loud or not, but that apology satisfied the teacher.  Perhaps the little girl was made an example of, or representative of the rest of the class.  Though this was not a perfect example, it gives us somewhat an idea of what Jesus has done for us.

Last week was Easter, and we heard about the victory that we receive from the resurrection of Jesus.  As we return to the book of Mark, we are going back in time just a little bit, to the day of his death and the hours leading up to it.  Think of these next few weeks as prequel stories to the Easter message.  A lot of movies now come out as prequels, and it’s interesting sometimes to see the backstory.  Prior to Easter, we learned about Jesus’ agonizing in prayer, struggling in the flesh to do the Father’s will.  But after praying fervently, pushing through the sorrow and trouble that caused him to sweat drops of blood, he came out of it resolved.  He won another victory for mankind over temptation.  His agony had turned to calm, and he was ready to confront the last enemy, and drink the cup the Father has given him.  At the end of the passage Jesus wakes his disciples up.  They had been sleeping and resting, but he said “The hour has come.  Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners.  Rise!  Let us go!  Here comes my betrayer!”  The hour of the darkest time in human history is about to begin.

In the first part of the passage, we see that Jesus was wrongfully arrested.  Verse 43 begins, “Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared.  With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders.”  Remember that Judas left before the close of the Last Supper.  It was now very late into the evening on Thursday night, and it could have even been Friday very early in the morning, around midnight.  It was immediately after Jesus had finished praying in Gethsemane that Judas shows up.  Judas had arranged with the crowd a signal to show them who their target was.  It was late at night, and some historians have suggested that the crowd could have been several hundred people.  Roman soldiers were present, as well as the Temple guard, and perhaps even some of the teachers of the law and their servants.  It would have been hard to identify Jesus in the low light of the night, so Judas arranged a sign.  He told them, “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.”

Look at v.45, “Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, ‘Rabbi!’ and kissed him.”  Judas had gone ahead of the crowd to make it look like he was coming to warn Jesus of the terrible crowd that was after him.  He greeted Jesus with many kisses, as if he was so happy to see Jesus.  This makes the betrayal all the more treacherous.  He takes the sweet expression of endearment, and turns it into the bitter gall of betrayal.  Judas may have thought he was fooling the Master, and the disciples, but Jesus knew.  Before Judas arrived, Jesus had said, “Here comes my betrayer.”  Once the kiss was set Jesus was seized and arrested.  The disciples resisted arrested, perhaps trying to save their Lord.  One of them drew a sword and cut off the ear of a servant of the high priest.  We learn from John that this disciple was Peter.  This looked like a valiant act of bravery, but it was actually a reckless and impulsive action.  Not only were they putting themselves in danger, but they were putting at risk the innocence of Jesus.  It would give some credibility to Jesus’ enemies for arresting him.  They could say, “Look, his disciples are rebels!”  Luke tells us that Jesus quickly rebuked his disciples, saying “No more of this!”  And he healed the servant’s ear.

Jesus proceeded now to rebuke the crowd.  Look at v.48-49, “ ‘Am I leading a rebellion,’ said Jesus, ‘that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me?  Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me.  But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.’”  What did Jesus do this whole time he was in Jerusalem?  He healed a blind man on his way in.  Every day, he taught openly in the Temple Courts.  Everyone heard his teachings, the crowds even listened to him with delight.  If he had said or done anything wrong, they should have arrested him then.  Never once has Jesus harmed anyone, yet everyone in this crowd was equipped with swords and clubs.  Jesus mentions here that the Scriptures must be fulfilled.  The words of God will be fulfilled.  The will of God will be done.  Jesus is allowing himself to be arrested, though he did nothing wrong.  He is giving himself into the powers of evil, though he could easily escape.  Jesus entrusted himself to God, and submitted to all that God wanted him to go through, even suffering.

Another Scripture that was fulfilled was in the previous passage.  Before they arrived at Gethsemane, Jesus told his disciples, “You will all fall away, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’”  As we see in v.50, everyone deserted him and fled.  This was truly a time when darkness was beginning to reign.  Jesus and his disciples, innocent as they can be, were met with an angry mob that wanted to seize them and harm them.  I’ve been in a situation where some of my friends were getting mugged by local thugs, and I was too scared to do anything or intervene.  I felt like a coward, but fear really overwhelmed me.  Mark describes how frightening it was.  He talks about a young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, following Jesus.  Because he showed support for Jesus, the crowd seized him, but he was able to get away.  He slipped out of his clothes, but he had to run away naked.  He’d rather flee naked, then be taken away by the angry mob.  Some scholars think this might even be author himself, writing about his experience.

Jesus was wrongfully arrested, but submitted to it.  Now he would be wrongfully tried.  Look at v.53, “They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together.”  These were no ordinary citizens, this was the Sanhedrin, which was like the Supreme Court of Israel.  These guys make and enforce the law.  Something was not right about this trial, however.  By law the Sanhedrin were not allowed to meet at night and during festivals.  But here, it is still night, and it is during the festival of Unleavened Bread and Passover.  In addition, the Sanhedrin only met at the Temple, but Mark even tells us Peter followed Jesus from a distance, and ended up in the courtyard of the high priest.  This was not the Temple, but the High Priest’s house!  What kind of a trial was this?

In our modern world, there is a legal principle called the “presumption of innocence.”  It basically says that you are innocent until proven guilty.  It is considered a basic right of an accused criminal internationally in many countries, and even codified into the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11.  Unfortunately, Jesus didn’t have that right in this trial.  He was guilty until proven guilty.  Look at v.55, “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.”  The Sanhedrin were supposed to be judges, but now they are playing the role of prosecution.  And forget about a fair trial, they brought in their own witnesses, probably bribed or coerced.  Many falsely testified against Jesus, but their statements did not agree.

Then someone came close to convicting Jesus with this false testimony, in v.58, “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’”  This was an appeal to the sacred Temple, the center of Jewish life.  This insinuated that Jesus was an enemy of the nation.  Also somehow, maybe by some witchcraft, he will construct another Temple.  This would make Jesus look like a sorcerer, which is worthy of death according to the Mosaic Law.  They were getting close, but they totally distorted Jesus’ words.  In John 2:19, Jesus is on the record saying, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”  He did not say that he would destroy the temple, Jesus said if the Jews were to destroy the temple, which by the way refers to his body, then he would raise it, his body, again in three days.  So even here, the different testimonies about what Jesus said did not agree.

Finally the high priest, probably getting very frustrated that this was going nowhere, stood up and interrogated Jesus himself.  Look at v.60, “Are you not going to answer?  What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?”  Since they failed to convict Jesus by others’ words, the high priest was trying to get Jesus to ensnare himself by his own words.  Verse 61a says, “But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.”  We see a contrast here, between the wild accusations and false testimonies of the kangaroo court, and the majestic silence and calm of Jesus.  Jesus did not have to respond.  He did not have to answer to these false allegations.  But Jesus was also not defending himself.  He did not say that this trial is a sham and a mockery, and that he should not be sitting there.  He did not say I did not do all those things you said, and I am not worthy of any death.  He did not open his mouth and confound them as he had done so many times before.  Why did Jesus not even open his mouth to defend himself?  Because the Scriptures must be fulfilled.  He came to do the will of God.  He was to be delivered over to the chief priests and teachers of the law, who would condemn him to death and hand him over to the Gentiles.  Jesus predicted these things before they happened, so when they do happen, his disciples will believe who he is.

The high priest, perhaps even more frustrated now, pulled out his ace card.  Now he asked Jesus, in v.61b, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”  Jesus had claimed to be this throughout his whole ministry, but the high priest never believed it.  It was contentious to him, and now he will see if Jesus will testify to this.  We see here that Jesus did not respond to any false testimonies, but he did open his mouth to speak the truth.  He broke his silence to testify about who he is.  Look at what he says in v.62, “ ‘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.’”  In this one statement, in the midst of all this darkness, Jesus reveals who he is.  He is the Messiah, the Son of God.  He is also the King and Judge.  The Son of Man, sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One, shows that he has the power and authority that only God has.  This coming on the clouds references is second coming in power and glory, to judge the living and the dead.  When he comes again, that will be the end, that will be Judgment Day, where some will enter into everlasting life, and others into everlasting death.

The high priest raged at this answer.  He tore his clothes as a ceremonial expression of shock and grief at Jesus’ answer.  “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked.  “You have heard the blasphemy, what do you think?”  Of course, from the beginning, this question was a trap.  He did not really want to know if Jesus was the Messiah.  He was hoping Jesus would say yes to go straight to the charge of blasphemy.  He said “Why do we need any more witnesses,” hoping to close the case immediately.  What about the evidence that Jesus is the Messiah?  What about the miracles?  What about the teachings?  What about the predictions and prophecies?  The high priest did not care for that evidence.  He was probably glad he didn’t have to bring in any more embarrassing false witnesses.

Even with his response, Jesus did not commit blasphemy.  There was no blasphemy because there was no irreverence or defiance to God.  So why did the high priest and the Sanhedrin think it was blasphemy?  It was because they did not consider the Messiah to be equal with God.  They believed that Messiah would be anointed by God, chosen by God, and would be the Savior and liberator of Israel.  But they did not believe that Messiah was God, or had any divinity in him.  They thought and still think he would be fully man only, descended from David.  Jesus testified that he had equal power and authority with God.  This offended the religious leaders so much that they charged Jesus with blasphemy.  Ironically, because they think Messiah is not God, they are the ones who are blasphemous.

But yet, at the close of this illegal and unjust trial, they all condemned Jesus as worthy of death.  Look at v.65, “Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded struck him with their fists and said, ‘Prophesy!’ And the guards took him and beat him.”  It made me cringe to think that these people are literally spitting at God, hitting him with their fists, and beating him.  They blindfolded him, as is done with someone who is condemned to death.  At the same time they mocked him, with “Prophesy!” since he could not see.  Although they condemned Jesus to death, they could not carry out the death sentence.  They were forbidden by Rome, so in order to have Jesus killed they would have to hand him over to the Gentiles.

How ironic, isn’t it, that the one sitting on trial being judged is the Judge.  But this also shows how amazing God’s love is.  John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  He gave his one and only Son.  We see in Isa 53:10 tells us, “Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.  After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.”  Why was Jesus silent at the wrongful arrest and at the sham trial?  It was so that he could take the punishment, and spare us from it.

Just like the little girl in the beginning of this story who made reconciliation for the classroom of noisy kids, so Jesus has made reconciliation between sinners and God.  He made himself an offering for sin.  See the darkness of sin in this passage.  The angry mob, the wrongful arrest, the fear of the disciples, the sham trial, the false witnesses, the beating, the spitting, the mockery of God.  We all, to some degree, are part of this mob.  We all have sinned, at one point or another, against God.  But it pleased God to send his son to take our blame, to take our shame away from us, and upon himself.  That’s why he stayed silent.  That’s why he endured.  It was so that you could be cleared of all your guilt.  You could be acquitted, the case of your sins has been thrown out, forgiven by the grace of God through Jesus Christ.  It was so that you could say that you are innocent before the Judge of all the earth.  Jesus endured that all for you, so he can count it all joy to take away your guilt and remove your condemnation.  Heb 12:2 says, “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  We all stand condemned because of our sins, but have faith.  Have faith in who Jesus is: He is the Messiah, the King, the Lord and Savior, and have faith what he has done: He died for our sins to remove our condemnation.  With this, when Jesus comes again on the clouds of heaven, we can have hope to be taken up in glory forever.

I’d like to close with some lyrics from a praise song by Chris Tomlin, called “You Are My King,”

I’m forgiven because you were forsaken
I’m accepted, you were condemned
I’m alive and well
Your spirit is within me
Because you died and rose again

Amazing love, how can it be?
That you, my king. would die for me
Amazing love, I know its true
Its my joy to honor you

In all I do
I honor you

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