Sunday, April 22nd, 2018
Sunday Morning Worship (9:30 AM)
Sermon Text (Mark 14:53-65):
 And they led Jesus to the high priest. And all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together.  And Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he was sitting with the guards and warming himself at the fire.  Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none.  For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree.  And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying,  “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’”  Yet even about this their testimony did not agree.  And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?”  But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”  And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”  And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need?  You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death.  And some began to spit on him and to cover his face and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” And the guards received him with blows. (ESV)
Here in our text we come to Mark’s account of the trial of the Lord Jesus Christ before the Sanhedrin (the Jewish high court of that day).
Everything about this trial points to the corrupt nature in which it was carried out. First, they arrested and tried Jesus without just cause. Not only was He sinless and without fault of any kind, but they had no witnesses against Him even to justify His arrest, much less His trial.
This was a verdict (a death sentence) in search of a reason or charge. In fact, they had to resort to searching for witnesses whom they could use to incriminate Jesus, “but they found none” (v.55)
Mark tells us that “many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree” (v.5). What a shocking scene! Not only was the Judge of all the earth on trial before men, the “great high priest” (Hebrews 4:14) on trial before the high priest of Israel, but many even dared to bear false witness against Him who is the Truth (John 14:6)!
It is shameful to think that so many people were willing to bear false witness against Christ Himself, and in what amounted to a capital case, as we are told that “the chief priests and the whole council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death” (v.55, Italics added).
Even their testimony (their false witness) was exposed as invalid, as it did not agree. But still others stood up to testify and bear false witness against the Lord Jesus, saying,
“We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” (v.58)
But once again Mark tells us, “Yet even about this their testimony did not agree” (v.59). They could not keep their story straight. And so we see that there was no just cause for rendering a guilty verdict in Jesus’s case. There was no excuse whatsoever for these wicked men to seek to crucify the Lord of glory.
And what did our Lord Jesus say in response to all of this? Nothing. It is as if He refused to dignify their false witness against Him with a response. And so the high priest even asked Jesus why He had no answer for these charges (v.60).
Even after all of this, “he remained silent” (v.61). This brings to mind the words of Isaiah 53:7, which says,
“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.” (ESV)
And so finally the high priest himself asked Jesus,
“Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” (v.61)
And now our Lord Jesus finally breaks His silence, saying,
“I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” (v.62)
Jesus could have said nothing, and yet He answered truthfully and without purpose of evasion, knowing full-well that his words would not be believed, and would in fact be used as a rationale for putting Him to death unjustly.
In saying, “I am” (v.62), Jesus may have even been making a not-so-subtle claim to divinity, but either way that was the clear intent and effect of the question as posed to him by the high priest, who asked if he was “the Son of the Blessed” (v.61).
We know from Matthew 26:63 and Luke 22:70 that Jesus was asked if He were “the Son of God” here as well, to which He replied affirmatively, as He does here in our text.
He even calls Himself “the Son of Man” (v.62), an quote or allusion to Daniel 7:13, where Daniel received “visions” of “one like a son of man” coming “with the clouds of heaven.” This One would be given “dominion and glory and a kingdom,” and his dominion would be “an everlasting dominion” (v.14).
Jesus tells the high priest and the other members of the council that they themselves would, in fact, “see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven” (v.62). They would see it! They would live to see Christ reigning at the right hand of god!
And they would see the Lord Jesus “coming with the clouds of heaven” as well. This seems to be a direct reference to Christ’s words back in the previous chapter (often called the “Olivet Discourse”), where He spoke of the judgment that was to befall Jerusalem and the Temple itself due to the wickedness, unbelief, and rebellion of the leaders of Israel.
Back in Mark 13:26 Jesus told the disciples,
“And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.” (ESV)
Jesus would come with clouds of judgment, and even the Temple itself would be leveled, with not one stone being left on top of another (Mark 13:2).
Certainly there seems to be some irony in this in light of the false testimony of those who misquoted Jesus as saying that He was going to tear down the temple made with hands and in three days raise up a temple made without hands (v.58).
Christ’s clear claim to being the long-awaited Messiah and the Son of God was all that the high priest needed to hear. In v.63-65 Mark writes,
“And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death. And some began to spit on him and to cover his face and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” And the guards received him with blows.”
They convicted the Holy One of blasphemy, and in so doing blasphemed against Him themselves! Those who were themselves deserving of the sentence of death condemned the sinless Son of God to death!
Their decision was unanimous – “And they all condemned him as deserving death” (v.64). And so there was no excuse, no split decision in this greatest mistrial and miscarriage of justice in all of human history!
The entire passage is difficult to read. The mind reels and the heart shudders to think of these things being done to our Savior throughout this passage. They mocked and beat Jesus! Those same “guards” whom Peter had been warming himself by the fire with (v.54) were now mercilessly mocking and beating the Lord Jesus!
All of that our Lord Jesus willingly suffered and endured for our sakes, that He might redeem His people from their sins! He willingly took the punishment that we deserved, in order to save us from our sins!
We hope that you will join us for worship this Sunday, as we hear the Word of Christ preached to us from this great passage of Scripture!
Sunday Night Bible Study (6 PM)
We are continuing our study through the historic creeds and confessions of the Christian church. We are currently examining the Belgic Confession together!
The Belgic Confession is a time-tested statement of the essentials of the reformed faith, and can be considered as an abbreviated summary of Calvinism (not to be confused merely with the so-called “5 points” of Calvinism). This Confession has been cherished by Reformed believers for over 450 years!
We hope that you will join us for this helpful and informative study. Bring your Bible, bring your questions, and feel free to bring a friend!