Summary: Jesus endured a trumped up trial and took a criminal’s place for you.
In Your Place; Mark 14:43-65; 15:1-15; 5th Lent; 5th of 7 in “All for You” series; The Promise; 04-02-06; Darryl Bell
For five weeks now we’ve been looking at all Jesus did for you in those last few, fateful days of his life on earth. It’s all based on the last three chapters of Mark’s gospel. He was anointed with perfume in preparation for his burial. He shared his Last Supper with his disciples, predicting that he would be broken and spilled out for them. He endured one of his closest friends denying that he even knew him. How that must have hurt! Last week we saw his struggle in prayer in the garden, asking for some way out of this. But no way out was provided, so he submitted, “Not my will, but your will be done.”
Today I want to just narrate the story as well as I can as Jesus is arrested and brought to trial. Jesus is really the one in charge throughout this trial. Having settled the matter in prayer in Gethsemane, he is not a “victim” but a willing volunteer for your sake and mine. He chooses to endure this for us.
At the end of today’s message we’ll take time for you to ask questions or share insights that come to you as I’m talking. So if questions come to mind, please hold on to them and ask them at the end.
Jesus is still speaking to his disciples late at night in the quiet garden of Gethsemane as Judas steps out of the dark-ness. He had left them while they were having dinner, and now he returns. But he doesn’t come alone. With him is a crowd of misguided rabble sent by the ruling council, the Sanhedrin. They’re armed with swords and clubs, as if they are chasing down a terrorist revolutionary. It’s ironic, because Jesus had castigated the temple as a den of robbers. Now temple goons come to arrest him as if he is a robber.
Judas walks up to Jesus as if nothing is wrong, and greets him with a kiss on the cheek, a sign of friendship and re-spect. Suddenly there is a commotion as the arresting party scrambles to surround Jesus and subdue him. In the confusion Peter grabs a sword and slashes at the attackers. He cuts off the ear of the high priest’s servant—probably aiming for the head, and the servant ducked—but before he can do any more, Jesus stops him. Luke reports that Jesus even heals the slave’s ear.
Jesus asks them, Am I some dangerous criminal, that you come armed with swords and clubs to arrest me? Why did-n’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there teaching every day. (Mark 14:48-49). Notice, the crowd seems tense and anxious. Jesus is calm. He doesn’t run. He doesn’t resist. He had settled the matter in prayer. Now he was ready to go through with this and lay down his life. In fact, notice he confronts them. Who’s in charge here? It appears that he is.
He doesn’t resist as they pull out their ropes and bind his hands and feet. As their attention is strongly fixed on him, his disciples quietly dissolve into the darkness and are gone. They don’t have the same calm resolve he does because while he prayed, they slept. He says, These things are happening to fulfill what the Scriptures say about me. Just a few hours earlier he had quoted the prophet Zechariah: God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered (13:7). And they are. They run for their lives.
Mark inserts an odd reference to a young man who had been following along behind wearing only a linen outer garment. As they grabbed him the shirt tore away, and he ran away na-ked. What’s that all about? This is probably Mark himself. Outer garments were normally made of wool. A linen garment would indicate someone of greater means, a wealthier person. We know the disciples used to meet at Mark’s mother’s house in Je-rusalem (Acts 12:12), so she must have had some wealth to own a house. The last supper may have been at that same house. When Judas returned with the crowd, he would have gone to where he had last seen Jesus—that house. Seeing that Jesus had already left, Judas moved on to the next place where he expected to find him—Gethsemane. Meanwhile, Mark had been in bed. When the crowd came, he realized what was hap-pening, and he grabbed the linen outer garment, threw it on quickly, and took off running to warn Jesus. He didn’t get there soon enough, and was nearly apprehended. We could say he “barely escaped.” (He ran away naked. He “barely” escaped.)
They roughly take Jesus as their prisoner, and they go across the valley and into the city. The streets are quiet and dark as they take him to the high priest’s house. Most of the Sanhedrin, the ruling council, have been called together, and they are ready to try him. They take him upstairs to a makeshift courtroom for this highly unusual trial in the middle of the night. Actually Jesus endures two trials, one Jewish and one Roman. That’s because the Roman occupiers had given the Jews wide latitude in making and enforcing laws, but they withheld the right of capital punishment for themselves. The Jews could enforce many things, but they could not legally put anyone to death.