THE TRIAL BEGINS
As we continue our study in Mark chapter 14, keep in mind that Jesus has now been arrested. Remember from our last study that as Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane His men slept. And three times He prayed, each time coming back to them and finding them sleeping. And that last time, after He was at peace with the work that was before Him, He may have stood over them, watching them for an hour or so, probably praying for them.
And then the hour had come, Judas, along with 600 Roman soldiers, the religious leaders, and the common people, maybe some 1,000 people in all with torches and lanterns, made their way towards Jesus. And as they got close, Jesus woke His men up, and with sleep still in their eyes they saw Judas betray Jesus with a kiss and then the Roman soldiers bound Him and they would then take Him away. And at this point the disciples of Jesus fled for their lives, hid themselves so they too would not get arrested, leaving Jesus alone with this mob of people and soldiers.
And as we will see, Jesus will face a religious trial that can be broken down into three sections. First Jesus faced Annas, then the high priest Caiaphas and finally the Sanhedrin which was like the Supreme Court, made up of 71 people including the high priest. Once they developed their charges against Jesus, they would send Him for a civil trial with the Romans, which was also broken down into three sections. First He went before Pilate, then to Herod, and then finally back to Pilate for His verdict to be made and then the penalty for His crime was to be carried out!
Understand that this trial was a mockery of the Jewish Judicial system. It was totally illegal and yet these religious leaders saw no wrong in what they were doing. You see, sin has a way of blinding us so we dont see the evil that is coming from our lives, in fact we will justify our actions as these Jewish religious leaders did. First of all, Jesus did nothing wrong to be arrested like this. No capital offense trial could be held at night. No trial on the Sabbath or a high holy day should have taken place, as this one did. There was to be no trial on a feast day, it was Passover! You could not force someone to testify against themselves, and yet that is what they made Jesus do. His arrest was the result of a bribe, it was blood money! And if someone was sentenced for a crime, the sentencing could not be carried out on the same day as the trial, and yet Jesus was crucified on the same day!
Now before we get into Mark chapter 14, lets look at John chapter 18, for John fills in some of the details of Jesus coming before Annas and then Caiaphas for us. Then we will go back to Mark and pick up at the trial before Caiaphas and then the Sanhedrin. In John 18:12-14 we read "Then the detachment of troops and the captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound Him. And they led Him away to Annas first, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas who was high priest that year. Now it was Caiaphas who advised the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people."
Annas was the high priest from 6 AD to 15 AD and he was evil. He oversaw the temple concessions and thus made a huge profit off the people who were coming to worship God at the temple. If you wanted to pay your yearly temple tax, you would have to use the temple coin, which they could supply to you for high exchange rates. If you brought an animal to sacrifice to God, they would find something wrong with it and you would have to buy their animal to give to God. And people hated to go to the temple because of this.
And times have not changed much. People today see the rip-off artists on television and they see church as a rip-off and God as a rip-off. Many today are asking for all kinds of money, and understand this, God does not need your money, He is not broke! What we need is His love and He desires that kind of relationship with Him. Dont put stuff between you and God!
Now Rome had enough with Annas and they brought Pilate in to oversee the governmental affairs, and Caiaphas to oversee the religious aspects, he was the high priest during the same time Pilate ruled, 26 AD to 36 AD, only Caiaphas was the high priest from 18-36 AD. Now Caiaphas married the daughter of Annas, keeping things in the family, kind of a Mafia-like organization, and Annas remained the power behind the scenes.
Now why did Annas hate Jesus so much? Because at the start of Jesus ministry and at the end of His ministry, Jesus cleansed the temple, threw out the money changers, the garbage, and took away some of the profits of Annas and his family. So he wanted Jesus out of the picture. So these night meetings or trials were needed to come up with charges to bring against Jesus so they could bring Him to Pilate and Pilate could put Him to death!
Again, in John chapter 18, lets look at verses 19-24 which says, "The high priest then asked Jesus about His disciples and His doctrine. Jesus answered him, I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing. Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they know what I said. And when He had said these things, one of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Do You answer the high priest like that? Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you strike Me? Then Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest."
It would seem that this meeting with Annas was a private one. And he asks Jesus about His disciples and His doctrine. Interestingly enough Jesus says nothing about His disciples, protecting them. But of His teachings, He tells Annas for 3½ years He has spoken openly, not in secret, He had nothing to hide. On the other hand, it was the religious leaders who were holding secret meetings, plotting to put Jesus to death.
Now I love Jesus here, for He was not afraid of what He said, and He tells Annas to bring on the witnesses, bring in those who have heard what He taught and let them speak. And as Jesus was speaking one of the officers hits Jesus in the face. Can you imagine this guy standing before the Lord now! Now at this point I would have lost my cool, but Jesus, very calmly asks them to tell Him what He said that was wrong, and if He said nothing that was wrong, then why was He hit in the face! Then, when Annas was done, He sends Jesus to Caiaphas, for their homes were next to each other. And then from Caiaphas he would go before the Sanhedrin to have the charges brought before Him. That is where we will pick up our study this evening, Jesus going before Caiaphas in Mark chapter 14, beginning in verse 53.
1. This is not the formal meeting with the Sanhedrin here, that takes place in Mark 15:1, when the final charges are made against Him. This is before Caiaphas and with him were many of the big shots, many of the religious leaders who made up the Sanhedrin.
1. Think about this for a minute. They have all these people up early in the morning, many witnesses, and yet none could agree with each other. And the Law said that the witnesses had to agree or the accused was to be let go! Obviously that didnt happen.
1. Now one of the witnesses tries to quote what Jesus said around 3 years earlier and he doesnt get it right. This false witness is trying to say that Jesus was going to destroy the temple and in three days He would put it back together without lifting a finger. Why would he say those things against Jesus? Because to try and destroy the temple was a capital offense and if they could get Jesus on this, they could have Him put to death! But they could not get two witnesses to agree on this statement because that is not what Jesus said.
2. In John 2:19-21 we read of what Jesus said. "Jesus answered and said to them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then the Jews said, It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days? But He was speaking of the temple of His body." Notice that the Jews were confused but Jesus was talking about His physical body, which is a temple, in a sense, for the Spirit of God dwells in it. Paul, said this very thing in I Corinthians 6:19-20, where we read "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." But again, these were false charges brought against Jesus and they could not get anyone to agree with what was spoken.
3. Think about how sad this is. A false witness speaks forth and Caiaphas asks, "Did anyone hear Him say that?" "No!" "How about what this guy said, does anyone agree with that?" "No!" "Does anyone agree with what anyone has said?" "No!" Why was this so important? Because Deuteronomy 19:15 tells us "One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established." You see, you had to have 2 or 3 witnesses to convict someone. One persons word did not count. It was a safety measure built into the system. And so Caiaphas is frustrated at this point and is going to go after Jesus himself.
1. There was nothing to say for what these men spoke were lies and no one could substantiate their accusations! It is as Isaiah 53:7 tells us of Jesus some 700 years before He was born! We read "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."
1. Here Caiaphas asks Jesus straight out, "Are you God!" And according to Matthew 26:63, we will see what the high priest said. Matthew tells us, "But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!" And so Jesus will tell Caiaphas and all those who we around Him, what He has been saying for the last 3½ years, that He is God! In fact, He says "I am" or speaks forth the name of God that spoke out of the burning bush in Exodus chapter 3!
2. Now what Jesus said is found in many Old Testament passages. In Daniel 7:13-14 we are told, "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. 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." So they knew what Jesus was saying, they just did not want to believe what He was saying!
1. They knew exactly what Jesus was saying, that He is God, there is no confusion like the Jehovah Witnesses try to tell us. They didnt misunderstand Jesus and if Jesus was misunderstood, dont you think He would have told them since He was going to be put to death for saying that He is God? Of course He would!
2. In John chapter 10 we see Jesus speaking of the Father and He were one, and the Jews, recognizing what Jesus said, took up stones to stone Jesus to death for what He said. We read in John 10:32-33, "Jesus answered them, Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me? The Jews answered Him, saying, For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God." I think that is very clear, Jesus said that He is God, and thus, here in Mark, like in John, the religious leaders recognized that fact, and we see here in Mark the high priest tear his clothes, which was against the Levitical Law according to Leviticus 21:10. But their sin they ignored and the sinless Man that was before them they were trying to put to death! Sin does blind our actions!
3. Now according to Leviticus 24:15-16, blasphemy was punishable by stoning. But, the Jews lost the right to execute or issue forth a death sentence, only Rome could carry this out. Thus, they would bring Jesus to Pilate after the charges were formally made against Jesus.
1. Here we see the hatred of man towards God. They blindfold Jesus and strike Him with their hands and with rods. Now when a person cant see a punch coming they cant react to it and turn, lessening the blow. So Jesus received the full blow of these punches. It would be like a quarterback who doesnt see the lineman coming at him, and he gets blind sided, and that is when they get hurt, they cant see it coming and role with it. So you can imagine what pain Jesus felt as these blows hit Him with full force!
2. In Isaiah 52:14 we are told "Just as many were astonished at you, so His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men." In other words, Jesus was so badly beaten that His face no longer resembled the face of a man! If you have ever seen a boxer who has lost a match, his face is swollen, his eyes may even be shut due to the swelling, and Jesus looked much worse! Luke 22:65 tells us, "And many other things they blasphemously spoke against Him." For Luke, the physician, it was so bad he didnt even want to go into the details any more than he did!
3. Now as soon as they took the blindfold off of Jesus, the rooster crowed, Peter had denied the Lord three times, and as Peter turned and looked, and his eyes met the eyes of Jesus, and he saw a beaten and bloodied man, and the love of Jesus through all of this looking back at Peter, and it will break him. That is where we will pick up our study next time, Peters denial of Jesus!