Devotional # 38. 6/17/13. Jesus’ first trial.
This week’s Reading: Mark 14:51-72.
Introduction. Last week Jesus went to the garden of Gethsemane and prepared to be arrested. We left off with everyone deserting Him, even though they had promised Him that they wouldn’t.
vv. 51-52. As I’ve mentioned before this Gospel called “Mark” was written by Mark but told to him by Peter. In v. 51 we see Mark insert himself into the story since it is assumed that he is the “young man”. So Mark (probably a teenager) possibly heard the commotion of everyone going to arrest Jesus and he left his house in a nightshirt or just wrapped the bed sheet around himself. When he saw Jesus getting arrested then he ran away but some of the other young men tried to catch him and ripped the sheet off of him. Mark putting himself here both shows the shame he felt of having to get back home naked but also as a testimony that he saw Jesus’ arrest happening just as Peter is narrating it.
vv. 53-54. Jesus is first brought in front of the religious leaders for trial. Notice that Peter follows them but “at a distance.” It is really hard to stand up for someone and protect them from far away, isn’t it? Peter had promised Jesus to stand for him and although he does follow behind he just ends up sitting in the courtyard.
vv. 55-56. When it says “all the council” it means the Sanhedrin which “was the supreme religious body in the Land of Israel.” It was made up of 70 different religious leaders from different “denominations” who met during the day and not during festivals or eves of festivals. There weren’t attorneys but they required witnesses and there had to be two witnesses for a sentence to be passed (Source 1). Obviously this trial broke all of those rules along with supplying witnesses who lied about what happened.
vv. 57-59. It’s interesting to see what the men lied about Jesus saying. I am going to put the stuff from v. 58 that there is no record of Jesus saying in capital letters: “We heard Him say, ‘I WILL DESTROY THIS TEMPLE MADE WITH HANDS, and within three days I WILL BUILD ANOTHER made without hands.’” What they were trying to say is from John 2:19 where Jesus is actually prophesying about what they are about to do…kill Him. But they still can’t get two liars to tell the same lie.
It is important to note that God never instituted the Sanhedrin ruling body and certainly not the desire to commit perjury in court! It is amazing to see how religious people can be so caught up in trying to preserve and protect their church or religion that they lie and kill.
vv. 60-65. Because they couldn’t get the lies to match up and they were surprised that Jesus didn’t seem worried and concerned they turn to ask Him to defend Himself. Some of them were hoping that He would slip up and say something that they could convict Him for. Notice that according to Isaiah 53:7 (“He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent“) Jesus was to keep quiet when it came to defending Himself but when it comes to a direct question about whether He was the Messiah, He does answer. And He answers truthfully but claiming to be God twice (“I AM” and “sitting at the right hand of Power”) seals His death. If you want to know why Jesus’ two statements are claims to be God, just email me. When a person was sad or angry the Jewish tradition was to tear their clothes* so when a person claimed to be God (“blasphemy”) this made them mad.
*Tearing clothes: “kriah is a Hebrew word meaning “tearing” because of death or mourning with the custom coming from several place in the OT: when Jacob thinks Joseph is dead (Gen. 37:34), when David and his men hear of the death of Saul and Jonathan (2 Samuel 1:11) and Job (in Job 1:20) (http://www.myjewishlearning.com/life/Life_Events/Death_and_Mourning/Burial_and_Mourning/Kriah.shtml).
vv. 66-68. At this point we stop the current trial/ beating storyline and go back in time to where we left Peter in v. 54. Here Peter (showing humility) tells us that a servant girl recognized him but Peter denies that he ever knew Jesus (this is his first denial). Notice the company that Peter is keeping: it is with the ungodly, not with other believers. As things in our lives fall apart and we get cold and lonely we run towards a little fire, hang out with bad wisdom and end up denying Jesus. What we should remember to do is stay with Jesus who is the warmth, righteous wisdom and comforting Truth we so desperately seek.
vv. 69-72. These verses contain Peter’s second and third denials where he ends up cussing people out. Remember the rooster crowing twice (as mentioned last week in Devotional 37 under vv. 28-31) means 3 AM and was also a reminder to Peter that what Jesus said was true.
So what is the purpose of Peter’s denials? Why does Peter include it in this Gospel? My thought is that God is showing every woman and man that on our own we can’t stand for Jesus. Notice that when Peter is reminded of it he cries. This was one of his breaking points. We are like Peter when we think we can stand up for Jesus but we must have humility and rely fully on Him. It is also only the first part of the story, as we’ll see Peter will be restored!
Conclusion. The story of Jesus’ trial can be difficult to hear because we see an innocent Man being convicted by a bunch of self-righteous, blinded and sinful men. We should not be so quick to think about something else. It can be good for us to dwell on this sometimes. This is the truth. Jesus came to earth to die for our sins. This was how it had to be. We can learn much from Peter’s denials of his master since we also deny Him. Whether it is when we feel like we should go help a homeless person and we say “no” or when we read the Bible or hear a “still, small voice” in our mind asking us to follow Jesus and we say “no”. When we say ‘no’ it’s because we are embarrassed or trust ourselves over Him.