Summary: Who is Jesus? What is He about? Did He ever say? Did He ever clear that up?
Last week, we left Jesus being betrayed by Judas and arrested by the Temple guards. The disciples were scattering, trying to escape arrest. A bystander was grabbed in the foray, but pulled away. We pick up the story today with Mark’s record of the second trial of Jesus. There were six trials; Three religious (Jewish Sanhedrin) and three political (Roman) trials.
We miss the first hearing in Mark’s story because it is actually Peter’s record. Peter was a little slower at catching up with Jesus than John was. (Pray)
Mar 14:53 And they led Jesus to the high priest. And all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together.
John records that they took Jesus to Annas first, and then the house of Caiaphas.
This being late at night, we can understand that the chief priests, elders and scribes (basically the Sanhedrin Court) had planned for this and were meeting at odd hours ready for this to happen. We know that they had already determined to put Jesus to death if they could do it without the common people, the followers of Jesus, resisting.
Mar 14:54 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.
Peter turned back to follow Jesus after he escaped to a safe distance. John’s description informs us that John had already turned back and was actually inside the trial (John 18:15). As a matter of fact, Peter may not have not gotten in if John had not signaled to the guards that it was OK.
Whereas John went inside where the trial took place, Peter stayed in the courtyard of the chief priest’s palace. It seems that while John was concerned with what was said in this mock trial, Peter was simply concerned about the outcome.
Mar 14:55-56 Now the chief priests and the whole Council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. 56 For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree.
You can imagine with me that the Sanhedrin Court had put out the word that they needed witnesses to testify against Jesus. Many came forward, and in the haste of getting this trial completed, they were not briefed, nor did they corroborate their stories.
Two things were wrong with this approach. First, it was against the Sanhedrin’s policies and practice for a capital case. In T. Bab’s book on the Sanhedrin, he cites documents that state the court was supposed to hear criminating charges in common cases first and rebuttals second. However, in capital cases, they were supposed to hear the proof of innocence first, and accusations second. This failure of following policy didn’t seem to bother them in the haste of this trial.
One rule that they did obey was that the multiple testimonies had to be one in story. The stories from multiple witnesses had to agree fully, or they were probably from the source of gossip, not eye witness accounts.
Mar 14:57-59 And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying, 58 "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.'" 59 Yet even about this their testimony did not agree.
Not every testimony was recorded by the gospel writers, but this is one that they related to us. Jesus was talking about His own body when He said, “Destroy this temple and in three days, I will raise it up” (John 2:19). He never said He would destroy the temple.
However, the witnesses distorted what Jesus said so that He would be found guilty of something. It was a capital offense to destroy anything in a temple of worship, even under Roman law. However, since they were misquoting Jesus, they couldn’t agree on exactly how He said it.
Mar 14:60 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?"
Even though the testimony was worthless and harmless, Caiaphus had the nerve to ask Jesus to answer the charges, just in case He might say something that would incriminate Himself.
Mar 14:61 But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?"
Jesus did not answer the false charges, for He needed not answer. He was not there to die for false accusation. That was not His purpose.
So the high priest, Caiaphas, asked the key question. “Are you the Christ, the Messiah, the promised one?” He added, “The Son of the Blessed?” Matthew records it as “The Son of God”.