Mark 14:53-65

Sunday Morning Bible Study

August 28, 2005

The Trial

There’s something about a trial that catches our attention.  People’s lives are affected by the outcomes.  When famous celebrities are on trial, the news tends to revolve around what OJ, Martha, or Michael did in the courtroom.  Courtroom dramas on TV tend to be popular shows.  Who doesn’t like a good old Perry Mason thriller?

But things don’t always go the way we think they should in a trial:


A small town prosecuting attorney called his first witness to the stand in a trial-a grandmotherly, elderly woman. He approached her and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know me?” She responded, “Why, yes, I do know you Mr. Williams. I’ve known you since you were a young boy. And frankly, you’ve been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you’re a rising big shot when you haven’t the brains to realize you never will amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you.” The lawyer was stunned. Not knowing what else to do he pointed across the room and asked, “Mrs. Williams, do you know the defense attorney?” She again replied, “Why, yes I do. I’ve known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. I used to baby-sit him for his parents. And he, too, has been a real disappointment to me. He’s lazy, bigoted, he has a drinking problem. The man can’t build a normal relationship with anyone and his law practice is one of the shoddiest in the entire state. Yes, I know him.” At this point, the judge rapped the courtroom to silence and called both counselors to the bench. In a very quiet voice, he said with menace, “If either of you asks her if she knows me, you’ll be jailed for contempt!

Today we’re going to look at the trial of Jesus.

:53 And they led Jesus away to the high priest; and with him were assembled all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes.

There were two high priests in Jesus’ day. Annas was the one recognized by the Jews as their high priest. Caiaphas was the one appointed by the Romans to be the high priest. Annas was Caiphas’ father-in-law.

The religious authorities wouldn’t have the actual authority to have Jesus put to death. This would be done by the Roman authorities. But before they approached the Roman authorities to have Jesus executed, Jesus would face several “trials” before the Jewish leaders.

Jesus would first face a preliminary hearing before Annas (John 18:12). Then He would have a trial before Caiphas and the Sanhedrin (our passage). It wouldn’t be until just after dawn that Jesus would be given the verdict by the Sanhedrin and then turned over to the Roman authorities where He would stand before Pilate and Herod before being put to death.

:54 But Peter followed Him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he sat with the servants and warmed himself at the fire.

Peter is on a downward spiral in his life. Even though Jesus warned him that he was going to deny Jesus, Peter had argued with Jesus that he would never do such a thing. When Jesus was arrested in the garden, Peter was the one who sprung to Jesus’ side, swinging a sword and cutting off the ear of the high priest’s servant. But Jesus quieted Peter down and healed the servant. Then Peter had run off with the rest of the disciples. Now Peter somehow gets the courage to follow after the crowd, but not too close. He’s heading for the moment when he would deny Jesus.


Danger ahead

1. Following at a distance
Sometimes people will ask the question, “How far can a Christian go?” They want to know if they can still do a certain activity and still be a Christian.

I know we are sometimes just trying to understand our boundaries and expectations.

But the issue is not “how far”, but “how close”.

How you live your life shouldn’t be determined by how far away you can get before you lose your salvation. It should be about how close you can get to Jesus, about how closely you can follow Him.

When your thoughts are “let’s not get too serious about this God-stuff”, you’re in the same danger that Peter was in.
2. Sitting with the wrong people
These “servants” of the high priest were the very fellows that had just participated in the arrest of Jesus. Whether he was right or wrong, just an hour ago Peter was swinging a sword at these guys. Now he’s trying to blend in with them.
David wrote,

(Psa 1:1-4 NKJV) Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; {2} But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. {3} He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper. {4} The ungodly are not so, But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.

Who are the people that you hang out with? Who are the people that you’re trying to blend in with?
3. Warmed by their fire
Remember that old song, “Come on baby light my fire …”?

What lights your fire? What warms your heart?  Is it the Word of God burning in your heart or is it the things of the world that warm you?


Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, but when they lit a fire in the craft it sank - proving once and for all that you can’t have your kayak and heat it, too.


A Charlotte, North Carolina man, having purchased a case of rare, very expensive cigars, insured them against---get this---fire. Within a month, having smoked his entire stockpile of fabulous cigars, and having yet to make a single premium payment on the policy, the man filed a claim against the insurance company. In his claim, the man stated that he had lost the cigars in “A series of small fires.” The insurance company refused to pay, citing the obvious reason that the man had consumed the cigars in a normal fashion. The man sued---and won! In delivering his ruling, the judge stated that since the man held a policy from the company in which it had warranted that the cigars were insurable, and also guaranteed that it would insure the cigars against fire, without defining what it considered to be “Unacceptable fire,” it was obligated to compensate the insured for his loss. Rather than endure a lengthy and costly appeal process, the insurance company accepted the judge’s ruling and paid the man $15,000 for the rare cigars he lost in “The fires.” After the man cashed his check, however, the insurance company had him arrested---on 24 counts of arson! With his own insurance claim and testimony from the previous case being used as evidence against him, the man was convicted of intentionally burning the rare cigars and sentenced him to 24 consecutive one year terms!

Be careful about what kind of fire you’re playing with.  You could get burned.

:55 Now the chief priests and all the council sought testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none.

:56 For many bore false witness against Him, but their testimonies did not agree.

They couldn’t find any true witnesses against Jesus, but they had plenty of false ones. The problem was that every false witness contradicted the others. They needed two witnesses to corroborate each other.

:57 Then some rose up and bore false witness against Him, saying,

:58 "We heard Him say, 'I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.'"

Jesus did say something close to this earlier in His ministry:

(John 2:14-21 NKJV) And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers doing business. {15} When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers' money and overturned the tables. {16} And He said to those who sold doves, "Take these things away! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!" {17} Then His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up." {18} So the Jews answered and said to Him, "What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?" {19} Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." {20} Then the Jews said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?" {21} But He was speaking of the temple of His body.

Jesus wasn’t talking about the destruction of Herod’s temple, He was talking about the destruction of the temple of His own body. He was claiming that after He was put to death, He would be raised from the dead in three days.

:59 But not even then did their testimony agree.

After all, they were twisting what Jesus had said.

This is often the way the enemy wants to turn people away from God.

There is a little truth offered, but it is also mixed with a bunch of poison.

:60 And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, saying, "Do You answer nothing?

In the Greek, the answer demands a positive reply, “You are going to answer your accusers aren’t you?”

:60  What is it these men testify against You?"

“Explain yourself”

:61 But He kept silent and answered nothing.

The prophet Isaiah wrote,

(Isa 53:7 NKJV) 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, So He opened not His mouth.


Keeping silent

What do you do when you’re “on trial”?
It’s not wrong to speak up and defend yourself.  The book of Acts is filled with stories of how the disciples defended themselves when they stood before those who judged them.
But there are times when speaking up isn’t going to help.
(Prov 26:4 NKJV)  Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Lest you also be like him.
And there are times when the real issue is not about you defending yourself, but about whether or not you are going to trust God to take care of you.
(Rom 12:17-21 NKJV)  Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. {18} If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. {19} Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. {20} Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head." {21} Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Can I leave the issue in God’s hands?  Can I let Him deal with it as He wants?
What’s with the coals of fire?  The Psalmist wrote,

(Psa 11:5-6 NKJV)  The LORD tests the righteous, But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. {6} Upon the wicked He will rain coals; Fire and brimstone and a burning wind Shall be the portion of their cup.

God is going to take care of wicked people.  The question is whether or not I’m going to pass the “test” and let Him take care of it.

:61 Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, "Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?"

the Blessed – a Jewish way of talking about God.

The high priest is asking if Jesus is the Messiah. He’s asking if Jesus is the Son of God.

:62 Jesus said, "I am.

In the book “The DaVinci Code”, the author makes the claim through his characters that the concept of Jesus’ deity didn’t come about until the time of Constantine in AD 300. He claims that in the earliest records, Jesus is just a man, a man who even gets married and even fathers a baby with Mary Magdalene. He makes the claim that if Jesus was God, then He wouldn’t stoop to being married.

First, there is nothing wrong with being married. If Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, there would have been nothing wrong with that. God invented the idea of marriage. But the Bible says nothing about Jesus being married to Mary Magdalene. There’s nothing wrong with being married, but Jesus didn’t come to be married, He came to die on a cross.

Second, the concept of Jesus being God in the flesh didn’t originate in AD 300, it originated with the birth of Jesus. Jesus Himself claimed to be God, to be God’s Son. The Bible isn’t made up of some stories invented after the fact, it’s the record of the eyewitnesses. The Gospel of Mark is thought to have been the first Gospel to have been written, and was written by those that were there. The fact that Jesus is making a claim to divinity is part of the reasoning of the Jews as to why He would have to die.

:62 And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven."

Jesus is making reference to two distinctive Old Testament passages that everyone understood to be about the Messiah.

In Ps. 110, David writes about his descendant, the Messiah, sitting at God’s right hand.

The prophet Daniel lived around the time of the Babylonian captivity, around 600 BC. He had several interesting visions that dealt with the last days. In one of his visions, he saw God on His throne, the antichrist being judged, and Jesus coming to the Father to take His place as ruler of the earth.

(Dan 7:9-14 NKJV) "I watched till thrones were put in place, And the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, And the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, Its wheels a burning fire;

This is a vision of God the Father on His throne. This picture of a throne with wheels and fire is very similar to what the prophet Ezekiel saw as well (Eze. 1, 10).

{10} A fiery stream issued And came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, And the books were opened.

There will be a time of judgment before God’s throne. God’s throne is surrounded by millions of beings.

{11} "I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame. {12} "As for the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.

The “horn” was the picture of the antichrist already describe by Daniel. The “beasts” were pictures of the earthly kingdoms in the last days.

{13} "I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. {14} Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.

Jesus is laying claim to this vision. He is saying that He is that “Son of Man”, recognized as the Messiah, as God’s Son.
Jesus is saying that when these religious leaders see that “Son of Man” coming with the clouds of heaven, they will recognize Him as the One that had stood before them.

:63 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, "What further need do we have of witnesses?

:64 "You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?" And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.

The High Priest knew that for an ordinary person to claim to be this Son of Man, this Son of God, was blasphemy.

But it’s only blasphemy if it’s not true.

They’re just assuming that the One standing before them couldn’t possibly be the Son of Man. But He is.

:65 Then some began to spit on Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him, and to say to Him, "Prophesy!" And the officers struck Him with the palms of their hands.

This is their response to Jesus. Spitting and beating Him.

This is describing what’s known as “blind man’s buff”. The soldiers would cover the victim’s eyes so that he couldn’t tell when he was going to be hit. When a person is going to be hit in the face, he naturally braces himself so the blow doesn’t hit as hard. But when you are blindfolded, the blows are more damaging.

It’s how a quarterback gets hurt – not when he’s sacked by the guy coming straight at him, but when he’s blindsided, hit when he didn’t see it coming.

When the soldiers say, “prophesy”, they are taunting Jesus, telling Him to say who it is that is hitting Him.

Jesus on Trial

In a way, nothing has really changed.  People put Jesus “on trial” all the time.  In a sense, Jesus is “on trial” in each of our lives.

But the real issue is, what is your intent in putting Him on trial?

Do you really want to know who Jesus is?  Or are you ust trying to find a way to get rid of Him like the Sanhedrin did?

If you really want to know who Jesus is, you’ll pay attention to what Jesus said and what Jesus did in His life.

That’s what John the Baptist did.  At one point when John was put into prison, he began to wonder about who Jesus was.  He sent word to Jesus asking if He was really the Messiah.
(Mat 11:4-6 NKJV)  Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: {5} "The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. {6} "And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me."
If you really want to know who Jesus, pay attention to Him.

If you really have no intention in finding out who Jesus is, but you just want an excuse for getting rid of Jesus, then you too will gather a bunch of false witnesses – and no two of them will agree.

And in the end you’re just going to believe what you want to believe, what is convenient to you.

Is He who He claims to be? Is He the Savior sent by God?

When Jesus died on the cross, was it just another tragedy of a good life cut short?
Or did Jesus truly die on the cross to pay for our sins as He died in our place?

Jesus Himself said,

 (John 3:16 NKJV) "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Do you line up with the fellows who spit on Jesus or with those who will trust and follow Him?
How you respond to Jesus will determine your eternal destiny.