Summary: Jesus endured a trumped up trial and took a criminal’s place for you.
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 (quickview) ). 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.