Summary: An examination of five people who had crucial roles in the chaos the night before Jesus was was crucified.
Over the past two years we’ve been following the footsteps of Jesus through the Gospel According to Mark. We have witnessed the reMARKable power of Jesus. This is message number fifty-seven in the series and after today we have five more remaining messages as we follow Jesus to the cross and an empty tomb.
In the last message we were with Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. When Jesus looked into the bitter cup of suffering, He shuddered with horror. He prayed, “Abba, Father, all things are possible. Take this cup away from me. But not my will, but yours be done.” I called that the great battle for our souls. Jesus embraced His Father’s will and was ready to go to the cross.
If this were a movie, we would be coming to the climax. An innocent man is violently arrested by a mob at midnight and subjected to a sham of a trial.
Mark 14:43-65. Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. The men seized Jesus and arrested him. Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. “Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” Then everyone deserted him and fled.
A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind. They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together. Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire. The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.
Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’” Yet even then their testimony did not agree. Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”
They all condemned him as worthy of death. Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.
In every drama, there is a cast of characters. In this message I want to examine five of the people who played a role in the action of this night in Jerusalem. We can learn a practical lesson from all five of them.
I. JUDAS: You can kiss the door of heaven and never get in
In the darkness of the evening, it would have been hard for the guards to identify Jesus, so Judas arranged a signal. He would go up and kiss Jesus. Judas walked up and said, “Rabbi! Teacher!” It sounded like a friendly greeting. And then he kissed Jesus on the cheek. You can almost hear the hiss in that kiss. You can almost smell the venom of hell in that kiss. In Matthew’s account, Jesus asked, “Friend, why have you come?” Jesus still calls him a friend. After all, Jesus is a friend of sinners, and Jesus loved Judas to the end.
Whenever I think about Judas, I think about a summary of the life of Jesus written by a little boy. “Jesus was born in Bethlehem in a barn. (I wish I had been born in a barn too, because my mom is always saying to me, “Close the door! Were you born in a barn?” It would be nice to say, “As a matter of fact, I was.”) During His life, Jesus had many arguments with sinners like the Pharisees and the Republicans. Jesus healed many leopards and even spoke to some Germans on the Mount. Jesus also had twelve opossums. The worst one was Judas Asparagus. Judas was so evil that they named a terrible vegetable after him.”