Summary: Having been betrayed, arrested, and taken to the home of the high priest, Jesus then faced preposterous allegations. Finally admitting that He was the Son of God, the council voted to codemn Jesus for blasphemy.
Accused before the Council
Mark 14: 53-65
Jesus has now been betrayed by Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane and is led away to stand trial before the Sanhedrin. Our text deals with the mock trial, standing before the council of the Pharisees. John’s gospel records that Jesus stood before Annas, father in law to Caiaphas the high priest, before He stood before the whole council, but we have little detail of that encounter.
During the proceedings of this mock trial, Jesus will be falsely accused and condemned to death by those He came to save. He will be denied and rejected of the Jewish elite, the ranking religious council. The attitudes present that faithful night remain among many today. Let’s take a few moments to consider the incidents recorded as we think on: Accused before the Council.
I. The Procession to the Trial (53-54) – Here we discover the details of Jesus being led away from the Garden of Gethsemane to stand before His accusers. Notice:
A. The Council (53) – And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes. This was not a gathering of insignificant men with little influence who brought accusation against Jesus. These were the religious elite; the chief priest was there along with the elders and the scribes. The Sanhedrin was compromised of 70 men plus the high priest. We don’t have a list of specific names, but these men were held in high regard by the people and their decisions bore great influence among the Jews. Those who should’ve known the Scriptures and recognized Jesus as the Christ have gathered to cast their voices against Him.
B. The Conspiracy (53) – These men had not met by coincidence. This meeting had been arranged with the intent of finding Jesus guilty of crimes worthy of death and condemning Him. We know they had conspired with Judas to betray Jesus, but this meeting had been planned for some time. John 18:14 – Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people. Jesus was hated by the Sanhedrin and they had conspired against Him in order to condemn Him. Nicodemus was among the Sanhedrin, and Joseph of Arimathea was as well (Luke 23:51,) but with the exception of these two, the rest appeared to have conspired against Jesus and consented to His death.
C. The Compromise (54) – And Peter followed him afar off, even into the palace of the high priest: and he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire. We will examine the denial of Peter in our next study, but here we discover he followed the procession toward the high priest’s palace, keeping his distance. At the time Jesus needed a friend most, those who were closest to Him had abandoned Him as well. Peter was concerned and curious, but he was also fearful and afraid.
This reveals that Peter had fallen away spiritually, following afar off. He sits by the fire of denial, keeping company with those who despised Jesus. We are often critical of Peter, but I’m sure we too have found ourselves distant from the Lord at times. There have even been times when we have denied our Lord. This is a tragic place to be!
II. The Proceedings in the Trial (55-59) – Here Mark records the actual proceedings that took place in this mock trial. Notice:
A. The Approach (55) – And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none. Clearly, they were determined to present evidence that would condemn Jesus to death, even if it had to be fabricated. They knew He had committed nothing worthy of death, but they were willing to present blatant lies if necessary. These men would not rest until the council consented to the death of Jesus. They were not interested in truth.
B. The Animosity (56) – For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together. Keep in mind, an innocent Man’s life was hanging in the balance, but their hatred for Jesus was so strong that they were willing to make up lies in an effort to condemn Him. The lies were so varied and preposterous that they didn’t even agree with other accounts, but they kept coming. They were determined to silence the voice and influence of Jesus.
Sadly, this continues in our day as well. People ignore the truth concerning Jesus. They refuse to look to Him regardless of His presence and power in their lives. One can identify with God or any number of other gods, but there is a determined hatred for Jesus.