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Two Trials and a Verdict

Gospel of Mark  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Elements of the story:
Sandwich
Peter by the fire
Jesus on trial
Peter by the fire (the three denials)
By Mark structuring this passage this way he wants us to see
that both these stories are happening at the same time
that these two stories are related and that they add meaning to each other.
Location: The High Priest’s Palace (Slide)
The fire where Peter was warming himself was in the priests’ courtyard
Jesus was on trial in a room above the courtyard
Chamber where the Sanhedrin typically met, though they could also gather in other places
Sanhedrin
Sanhedrin
The supreme council in charge of Jewish affairs in Roman Palestine.
The supreme council in charge of Jewish affairs in Roman Palestine.
The Sanhedrin consisted of the chief priests, the elders and the scribes
The High Priest’s role in the Sanhedrin
The high priest was the leader of the sanhedrin

The supreme council in charge of Jewish affairs in Roman Palestine.

The Trial
Looking for witnesses to testify in order to put him to death
You see, the Sanhedrin had no power to execute anyone, capital crimes could only be judged by Rome.
So this was not a formal trial, but rather it was a preliminary hearing to see if they could gather enough evidence against Jesus to bring him to Pilate, the Roman governor.
So the scene is set,
Jesus is taken from the garden and brought to the house of the high priests
Peter follows and sneaks into the courtyard and warms himself by the fire as the sanhedrin looks for people to testify against Jesus
Outline
14:53-54 - Peter follows Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest (53-54)
14:55-59 - The council looking for a testimony against Jesus
14:60-64 - Jesus questioned by the high priest and condemned to die
14:65 - Jesus beaten and accused of being a false prophet
14:66-72 - Peter denies Jesus three times

Peter Begins to Crumble

Mark 14:53–54 ESV
53 And they led Jesus to the high priest. And all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together. 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.
Mark 14
Peter, the bold and self-confident disciples who told Jesus that he would die for him before he falls away is not playing the role of the coward.
He follows at a distance so that he would not be recognized as being a friend of Jesus.
He goes to the fire in the courtyard of the high priests house and sits with the guards and warms himself by the fire.
I think interesting that Marks tells us that Peter went to the fire and was sitting with the guards.
One biblical scholar says, “Fire breeds community”
When you gather around a fire its hard not to be brought into community
Campfires, bonfires, even fireplace fires all have a social effect of cultivating community
And here Peter goes to the fire and he sits with the guards
Peter is not interested in being a disciple who is bold in his allegiance to King Jesus, he is trying to blend in with the people who want to kill Jesus.
We will look at this more in the second half of the sandwich.
So here is Peter, warming himself by the fire, while the sanhedrin is seeking to find just cause to kill Jesus
And the scene shifts now from the courtyard to one of the upper rooms in the high priest’s house where the high priest and the whole council were looking for a testimony against Jesus

The Witnesses

Mark 14.55
Mark 14:55–59 ESV
55 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. 57 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.
You see, this preliminary hearing was not about finding the truth. Rather, they gathered for a purpose, and that was to put Jesus to death.
They were looking for people to speak a testimony against Jesus, but they were unable to find any that would hold up in court.
They couldn’t take Jesus to Pilate for the death penalty without having just cause.
You see, the testimonies against a criminal had to be consistent in order for it to be admissible in court.
So many people were willing to lie about Jesus, or give a false witness, but the sanhedrin could not get people to agree.
Some people, said, “we heard him say, ‘I will destroy the temple that is made with hands, and in three days i will build another, not made with hands.’”
The funny thing, Jesus actually did say this,
John 2:19 ESV
19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
However, the witnesses could not agree about Jesus words, therefore it would not hold up in court.
more than likely Jesus words caused such a buzz that people remembered hearing about how he talked about destroying the temple, but they themselves were not there when Jesus said these words in .
Mark 14:59 ESV
59 Yet even about this their testimony did not agree.
So Jesus is standing in the midst of the sanhedrin and they run around like blind fools trying to find a witness that would give them just cause to put him to death.
you see, according to the law they needed the testimony of at least two or three witnesses in order to charge him. But they could not find any 2 or 3 people who’s testimony agreed.
If Jesus just stood there and didn’t say a thing they would not have been able to bring a charge against him.
Now if Jesus wanted to he could have turned that courtroom upside down by just quoting to them what the law says about witnesses in court.
Deuteronomy 19:15–20 ESV
“A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established. If a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing, then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days. The judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. And the rest shall hear and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you.
Deuteronomy 19:15–21 ESV
15 “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established. 16 If a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing, 17 then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days. 18 The judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, 19 then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. 20 And the rest shall hear and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you. 21 Your eye shall not pity. It shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
According to the law that they are trying to obey by finding two or three witnesses, they have actually condemned themselves to death as they should receive the punishment they were trying to hand out to Jesus.
And if Jesus would have called upon the law, he could have purged the evil from his midst.
False testimony is a big deal, lying is a big deal, and they all deserved to be punished for it.
Just a side note, as people come forward to give a false testimony about Jesus inside the house of the priest, outside Peter is at the same time give a false testimony about himself concerning Jesus.
Peter’s evil also should be purged from their midst.
And this is exactly what Jesus plans to do, he is going to purge evil, he is going to destroy the power of evil and the penalty of evil, and ultimately he will destroy the presence of evil.
But he does so under the judgement of a much greater authority than the sanhedrin, or the Roman government.
So back inside.
The high priest finally moves on from trying to find witnesses and begins interrogating Jesus himself.
Maybe he can get Jesus to confess of something that will allow them to bring Jesus to the romans for execution.

The Interrogation

All throughout the gospel of Mark we have seen the Pharisees, elders, priests, scribes and so on try and catch Jesus in some sort of falsehood.
They have tried to denounce him as a false prophet
They have tried to catch him as a rebellious rebel wanting to sit on the throne
They have accused him of doing only what the priests are allowed to do.
So this is the nature of the interrogation, this is the nature of the trial as a whole.
If he is a false prophet, priest and king, then he is guilty of Blasphemy
60-
Mark 14:60–61 ESV
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?” 61 But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”
What was Caiaphas the high priest charging Jesus with in his interrogation?
Jesus False Prophet
The bottom-line charge - and one that is repeated in later Jewish sources - is that Jesus was a false prophet, leading Israel astray.
There were warnings that false prophets would come and do all sorts of miraculous things and teach in such a way that would lure people away from God.
Do you remember the story in ?
Do you remember the charge the Pharisees brought against Jesus in ?
Jesus was healing people and casting out demons and thousands of people were following Him. so scribes come down from Jerusalem (which is where they are now), and determine that Jesus is actually possessed by Satan himself.
And throughout the rest of the gospel the scribes and the religious leaders believed that Jesus was indeed a false prophet.
Jesus was a false priest
Throughout the gospel we see Jesus presenting himself as a priest, and doing only what priests can do. He also claims to have authority over the temple, the place where priests serve God.
Throughout the gospel we see Jesus presenting himself as a priest, and doing only what priests can do. He also claims to have authority over the temple, the place where priests serve God.
Chapters 11 and 12 we see Jesus claiming authority over the temple
He also prophesied that the temple would be destroyed. and that it was under God’s judgement.
The first miracles Jesus did were priestly miracles
He cast the demon out of the man in the synagogue (priests job)
He cleansed the leper (priest’s job)
He forgave the sins of the paralytic (only priests could forgive sins)
Jesus was a false king
We have seen throughout the gospel of Mark that Jesus is presented as the true king. From the opening verses, to his David connections, to the transfiguration, and the expectations of the disciples. Everything about Jesus’ life and ministry is presented as the promised king who would redeem his people.
We have seen throughout the gospel of Mark that Jesus is presented as the true king. From the opening verses, to his David connections, to the transfiguration, and the expectations of the disciples. Everything about Jesus’ life and ministry is presented as the promised king who would redeem his people.
So, when Caiaphas asked are you the son of the blessed, this is a question not about deity, but of kingship.
Kings considered themselves as the sons of God. or the son of the blessed.
If Jesus claims to be king then Rome will want to know about it. As they crucify any would be rebel leaders who thought they could take the throne.
So this is whats going on in the interogation
They are trying to prove he is a false prophet
They are trying to prove that he is against the temple as a false priest
They are trying to prove that he claims to be king.

How will Jesus respond?

Now, up to this point Jesus has been very cryptic about his identity with the religious leaders.
multiple times in the gospel of Mark Jesus had told his disciples not to tell anyone about who he really is
In after cleansing the leper he tells him not to tell anyone
Mark 1:43–45 ESV
43 And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” 45 But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.
Mark 4
In after Peter confesses that he is the Christ, he tells him and the rest of the disciples not to tell anyone
In mark 4:11 he answer the disciples question about the parable of the sower by saying,
again
Mark 8:29–30 ESV
29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.
and he explains a little bit more to his disciples in in mark 4
Mark 4:11 ESV
11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables,
Up to this point Jesus has..
He has not publically stated that he is the true high priest
he not publically stated that he is the prophet that Moses talked about
he has not publically stated that he is the king that will fulfill the Davidic promise.
So when the question comes up by the high priest in verse 61
“Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”
Mark 14:60 ESV
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?”
Mark 14:61 ESV
61 But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”
So how does Jesus answer this question?
will he again answer by asking them a question?
will he give them another parables?
will he change the subject?
will he point out their sinful rebellion against the law of Moses?
will he just remain silent and let them give up because they could not find witnesses that were creditable?
How will he answer this question?
Look with me at Mark 14:62
Look with me at Mark 14:62
Mark 14:62 ESV
62 And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”
Mark 14:62
Here Jesus’ answer was explosive to the ears of the high priest. Jesus has just given them everything they need to take him to Pilat - Jesus has just signed his death certificate.
You see what Jesus says here answered all three of the charges against Jesus
Jesus is claiming to be a prophet
Jesus is claiming to the a priest
And Jesus is claiming to be king
But its not that simple, here Jesus is claiming to be THE Prophet THE Priest and THE king.
Jesus answer is a combination of two powerful Messianic passages in the OT
He combines and
says this,
Psalm 110:1 ESV
1 The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”
this is a royal psalm that the prophesied about the coming king of the Jews
The YHWH would say to Davids lord, the great king that is to come, “sit at my right hand”
That the throne of this future king would be a throne in heaven, a throne from which he would rule the world until YHWH makes all his enemies his footstool.
And now in front of everyone Jesus is saying David was talking about him.
But its not only 110:1 that he’s talking about him, but the whole psalm
Psalm 110 ESV
A Psalm of David. 1 The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” 2 The Lord sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies! 3 Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours. 4 The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” 5 The Lord is at your right hand; he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath. 6 He will execute judgment among the nations, filling them with corpses; he will shatter chiefs over the wide earth. 7 He will drink from the brook by the way; therefore he will lift up his head.
You see, when People would refer to OT passages they would often quote one line and it would mean that the rest of the passage was also true.
so for Jesus to say that they will see him seated at the right hand, he is also saying that the rest of psalm 110 is also about him.
Look again at what says,
Psalm 110:4 ESV
4 The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”
When the true messiah comes he would not only be the eternal king, but he would be the eternal priest.
As if this was not enough to raise the blood pressure of the high priest, Jesus also says that they will see him “coming on the clouds of heaven” which is a reference to to
And when he said, “and coming on the clouds of heaven” he is referring to Dan 7:13
Daniel 7:13 ESV
13 “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.
Jesus is claiming to be the one who rides on the clouds, the one who stands before the Ancient of days!
Do you know who The Ancient of Day’s allowed to stand before him? Prophets
IT was the prophets who were given access to YHWH’s divine council, it was prophets who would stand before God and take the words of God to the people of God.
And now Jesus has claimed to the the
King who sits at his right hand
The Eternal Priest
And now the Prophet who stands before the Ancient of Days.
And by claiming to be the one spoken of in that would also mean that the rest of that night vision is true as well
Daniel 7:14 ESV
14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.
Jesus was also claiming to be the one who would be given
dominion
glory
a kingdom
that all people, nations and languages would serve him
That his dominion would be everlasting
And that his kingdom would be one that will never be destroyed.
In this statement Jesus is basically saying that I am everything that God promised would come.
I am the King
I am the Priest
I am the Prophet
This statement enrages the priest!
Look how he responds
Mark 14:63–64 ESV
63 And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? 64 You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death.
Mark 14:63-
The High Priest tore his garments out of rage
which also shows rebellion and evil heart of the priest as it was forbidden for the high priest to tear his robe, according to the law (Lev. 21:10)
Leviticus 21:10 ESV
10 “The priest who is chief among his brothers, on whose head the anointing oil is poured and who has been consecrated to wear the garments, shall not let the hair of his head hang loose nor tear his clothes.
He asks the sanhedrin what further witnesses do they need? for all has heard his blasphemy.
The irony is painfully thick in this passage, The high priest and the whole council condemned Jesus because of his blasphemy: which was his claiming to be prophet, priest ad king.
Yet what they don’t realize is that every word they speak against Jesus is actually blasphemy.

BLASPHEMY A verbal insult uttered intentionally and malevolently against God, revealing the offender’s contempt for Him.

And here, God is in their midst and they do nothing but speak with contempt against him.
And we see the blasphemy intensify in the next few verses
Mark 14:65 ESV
65 And some began to spit on him and to cover his face and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” And the guards received him with blows.
Mark 14.
Once they made the decision to condemn Jesus they hold nothing back
Jesus claims to be the Prophet, lets mock him for such an arrogant statement.
So they spit on him, they cover his face and strike him, saying to him “Prophesy!”
This is just the beginning of the physical assult that Jesus would endure.
The torture will only intensify as Jesus moves closer to the cross.
Marks wonderful ability to build drama in his gospel is put on full display in this passage. For while they are condemning and mocking Jesus for claiming to be a prophet. Peter is outside fulfilling Jesus’ prophecy.
Do you remember what Jesus told Peter after Peter’s bold declaration that he would not fall away even if that ment dying?
Mark 14:29–30 ESV
29 Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” 30 And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.”
And now mark has painted us a picture where Jesus is standing alone being beaten, while Peter is outside doing whatever he can to fit in and protect himself.
Mark 14:66–72 ESV
66 And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, 67 and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” 68 But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean.” And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed. 69 And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” 70 But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” 71 But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” 72 And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.
-73
You see Mark shows us clearly the contrast between Jesus and Peter
Both were put on trail
one would be faithful, the other would be faithless
one would be strong, the other would be weak
Jesus was questioned by the high priest of Israel
Peter was questioned by the servant girl of the high priest
Jesus states the truth knowing that it will usher him to his death
Peter crumbles by the servant girls questions and lies in order save himself.
Jesus stands alone as the only faithful Israelite
While Peter seeks to identify himself with the evil men wanting to kill Jesus
Jesus stands firm under the pressure of the sanhedrin (71 men)
Peter crumbles under the pressure of a servant girl and some bystanders
Jesus is about to take the curse of sinful man upon himself
while Peter invokes a curse upon himself, swearing he doesn’t know Jesus
And then the rooster crows for a second time, Peter remembered Jesus’ words and broke down and wept.
It’s amazing how those tears Peter shed were the tears Jesus’ death will one day wipe away.
The curse that Peter brings upon himself is the same curse that Jesus will take from Peter and bear himself
You see in the two trials we find
There is one who is strong, and there is one who is weak
There is one who stands righteous, and there is one who stands condemned
There is one who speaks truth, and there is one who speaks lies
There is one who is brave, and there is one who is a coward
And the amazing reversal of the gospel is this
The one who was strong became weak, so the weak could be made strong
The one who stands righteous became condemned, so the condemned could be made righteous
The one who speaks truth, took the wrath of a lier so the lier could be brought into the truth
The one who was faithful was destroyed, so the faithless could be saved.
This is what our high priest, our eternal king and our great prophet has done for us.
He has taken our sin, and declared us righteous
He has taken our curse, so we could be free
he has taken our guilt, so we could be innocent
He has take our shame, so we could be made sons and daughters of the king
He has taken death itself and laid it in the grave, so we could have eternal life
So what does it mean for us today that Jesus has taken all of our brokenness and given us his life?
So as you go this week go with a thankful heart that Jesus has taken your sin, so that you could receive his righteousness.
It means that your life is not your own, but you have been bought with a price.
Go knowing that this righteousness that he has given you is not some pie in the sky sort of righteousness, but its a righteousness that is to be manifested in ever part of your life.
Jesus’ faithfulness is to be seen in your faithfulness
Jesus’ love for us is to be seen in our love for one another
Jesus’ grace extended to us so we can extend it to others
We experience the blessings of the gospel here and now, in the real and in the physical.
We experience it when we work, play, eat, laugh, cry.
The power of the gospel is transformative today, not just in the future.
If you trust in Jesus than he has made you a new creation so that you might be faithful citizen of his kingdom redeeming, renewing and restoring all things to Christ.
Lets pray.
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