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The Final Rejection of Jesus Christ

Mark   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  49:09
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Good morning and welcome to Dishman Baptist Church. After a challenging week in my personal life, it is always a pleasure and a privilege to be with you all in the house of the Lord worshipping Him. Please open your Bibles with me to Mark 14, Mark 14.
This morning we will begin our study of what amounts to the last 12-15 hours of Christ’s earthly life prior to the cross. I’ve titled this the final rejection of Jesus Christ as we will see Him fulfilling the prophetic role of the suffering servant from Isaiah 53
Isaiah 53:3 CSB
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like someone people turned away from; he was despised, and we didn’t value him.
This will begin with His rejection by the religious establishment - an establishment that in truth had rejected Him all along but as we’re going to see today their rejection has come full circle with despicable and deceitful consequences as their true heart is revealed. Then there is the rejection that comes from His closest associates, the rejection by the world’s systems and finally the final rejection by those He had come to preach to and to try and save
John 1:11 CSB
He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.
And of course this will all culminate in the ultimate rejection - that of the abandonment that He felt on the cross as God poured out His wrath on Him for the sins of those He had come to reclaim.
We live in a world today that is inundated with cries for justice - whether it be social justice or sexual justice or immigration justice or just about any other hot button topic that you could point to. We also see great outcries over the miscarriage of justice. Yet the greatest miscarriage of justice ever takes place in the passage of Scripture we are going to look at today. Yet the wonderful thing to note - among a few other lessons that we can take from this passage - is that, in this case, the greatest instance of injustice in fact leads to the greatest demonstration of justice in the history of mankind. Let’s read our passage for this morning and then we’ll see how this event will point us down the road to the moment that our justification was realized and justice was poured out on the perfect, blameless Son of God in our stead. Read with me Mark 14:53-72.
Mark 14:53–72 CSB
They led Jesus away to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes assembled. Peter followed him at a distance, right into the high priest’s courtyard. He was sitting with the servants, warming himself by the fire. The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they could not find any. For many were giving false testimony against him, and the testimonies did not agree. Some stood up and gave false testimony against him, stating, “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands, and in three days I will build another not made by hands.’ ” Yet their testimony did not agree even on this. Then the high priest stood up before them all and questioned Jesus, “Don’t you have an answer to what these men are testifying against you?” But he kept silent and did not answer. Again the high priest questioned him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” “I am,” said Jesus, “and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy. What is your decision?” They all condemned him as deserving death. Then some began to spit on him, to blindfold him, and to beat him, saying, “Prophesy!” The temple servants also took him and slapped him. While Peter was in the courtyard below, one of the high priest’s maidservants came. When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.” But he denied it: “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about.” Then he went out to the entryway, and a rooster crowed. When the maidservant saw him again, she began to tell those standing nearby, “This man is one of them.” But again he denied it. After a little while those standing there said to Peter again, “You certainly are one of them, since you’re also a Galilean.” Then he started to curse and swear, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about!” Immediately a rooster crowed a second time, and Peter remembered when Jesus had spoken the word to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.
There is a lot in this passage for us to cover - but something important for us to note up front is that Mark is portraying two simultaneous trials taking place in this passage. In his characteristic sandwich style, Mark presents to us the arraignment of Christ and the abandonment of Peter as both are tried for their testimony. Mark contrasts Christ’s faithful stance against that of Peter who waivers and ultimately falls in his trial. He is providing an example for the Roman Christians who are the recipients of his Gospel as to how they should act when interrogations or suffering came their way for their confession of faith in Christ.
As we examine this passage we’re going to see Christ being abandoned by His friends in two parts - at the beginning and the end as the bread of the sandwich that Mark is building. Then we’re going to see Christ being accosted by His enemies, assaulted by sinners and then back to the abandonment of His friend.
Mark starts off asking us to recall, to flash back to the teaching that Christ had given to His disciples during their trip south from Galilee. First though he tells us that after arresting Him in the garden of Gethsemane the mob led him away to the home of the high priest. John gives a little more detail here, informing us of a stop that Jesus was forced to make first at the home of Annas. Annas had served as high priest until A.D. 15 when the Romans deposed him for reasons that have been lost to history but his fingers had not drifted far from the Temple. He had somehow managed to make the high priesthood a family affair with five of his sons and now his son-in-law Caiaphas occupying that role at various moments in second Temple Judaism. His role at the Temple was so prominent that the area in the Gentiles court that had been turned into a livestock market and a money exchange had been titled “The Bazaar of Annas”.
John 18:13 CSB
First they led him to Annas, since he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year.
While he was at Annas’ home, He is interrogated regarding His teachings as Annas seems to be seeking some way to condemn Him once the entire Sanhedrin is convened at his son-in-laws home not far away. Let me remind you that all of this is taking place at probably around 1 A.M. We’ll come back to this point in a moment but now Christ, having been herded the one kilometer distance from the garden to Annas’ home is taken across the courtyard to Caiaphas’ home where the entire Sanhedrin has gathered.
We now see the culmination of the teaching that Christ had given His disciples as He is handed over to the chief priests, the elders and the scribes as He had said in Mark 8:31
Mark 8:31 CSB
Then he began to teach them that it was necessary for the Son of Man to suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and rise after three days.
But before we can get too deeply into this scene Mark breaks us away to another. And it is here that we start to see the abandonment of a friend.

Abandoned By His Friends Part 1

When I was in the Navy and someone was about to do something exceedingly foolish - which was just about every day - or something they could get into trouble for, we would always tell them “yep I’ve got your back, way back” alluding to the idea that we were going to stand far away from them. Just far enough as to not get into trouble for what they were about to do or to get caught up in the foolishness of their actions and any injuries that might happen, but close enough to laugh at them when whatever it was they were planning went poorly.
Remember our sermon last week - Peter standing before Christ boastful and boisterous about how he would stand with Him even if all the others fell away. And then, even when he was told that he would fall, he doubled down on that claim saying that he would die for Christ. He did requite himself a bit at Christ’s arrest. Drawing a sword (one of two they had with them) he had cut off the ear of one of the high priests servants. But now here he is following Christ “at a distance” staying far back, a far cry from standing with Christ.
Also take note of how each Peter and Christ enter into the environments of the trial they would face this early morning. Christ comes in chains but Peter walks into his trial a free man with little expectation of the trial he was about to face.
Notice also where he ends up. He cozies up to the fire where the very servants that had served as a part of the mob arresting Jesus were. In an effort to remain under the radar and unnoticed he sidles right up next to the enemies of Christ hoping to share their fire. Undoubtedly the topic of conversation at the fire was the arrest that had just taken place. Maybe each man was boasting about what they’d done or how close they’d been to Christ as they arrested Him. And here is Peter, who is supposed to be one of Christ’s closest companions, who had been with Christ at the Transfiguration, who had openly confessed Christ to be the Messiah, the very Son of God, standing silently as he hears his Lord being maligned at this fire in an effort to simply stay warm.
My point here is simple - there are a lot of Christians in the church today who are silently sidling up to the world and remaining silent as their Lord is being maligned all in an effort to just get along. We are adopting worldly philosophies - or if we aren’t adopting them we aren’t speaking against them. Now should Peter have spoken up at that fire in defense of Christ isn’t the point. The point is that he didn’t belong at the fire in the first place. We are called to be in the world not of the world. We shouldn’t be cozying up to any worldly philosophy or system that is anti-Christian in an effort to fly under anyone’s radar.
As we’re going to see in a few minutes, it doesn’t work out that well for Peter and it isn’t going to work out all that well for us in the long run either. But Mark whips our heads back from Peter and the trial he is about to undergo to Christ and the trial that is already underway.

Accosted By His Enemies

There was nothing correct or just about the trial that we witness Christ face before the Sanhedrin. There has been much speculation among scholars as to whether the practices outlined in the Mishna tract regarding the conduct of the Sanhedrin were in practice in the first century as that document was not codified until the early 200’s A.D. What is most likely the case is that some of these practices were in place but had not been written down yet - it is not often that a guiding document is just conjured up at the moment of its writing but rather that it is simply the validation of practices that have long been in place only now they’re actually written down.
That document listed seven provisions for the conduct of trials before the Sanhedrin.
First - no trial could be held at night.
Second - the verdict in a capital case could not be reached until the second day and trials could not be conducted on the eve of the Sabbath of a feast day.
Third - witnesses had to be warned to relate only true, firsthand testimony.
Fourth - those accused of blasphemy could be convicted only if they reviled the Divine Name.
Fifth - trials could not be held in the palace of the high priest but instead the Sanhedrin was to meet in was was known as the Hall of the Hewn Stone.
Yet here we have the Sanhedrin at sometime early in the morning - 1:30, 2? - gathering together at the home of Caiaphas to try Jesus. And the whole concept of innocent until proven guilty was not even on the table. Mark writes “The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for testimony against Jesus to put Him to death”. They had already determined long ago that Jesus had to die, now they were looking for ways to make that happen. Ever since early in His ministry in Galilee they had been plotting to put Him to death.
Mark 3:6 CSB
Immediately the Pharisees went out and started plotting with the Herodians against him, how they might kill him.
They again gathered to determine an opportunity to kill Him but decided that it would be too difficult during the festival
Mark 14:1–2 CSB
It was two days before the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a cunning way to arrest Jesus and kill him. “Not during the festival,” they said, “so that there won’t be a riot among the people.”
It was probably at this meeting that the high priest Caiaphas made the prophecy that is recorded in John
John 11:49–53 CSB
One of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all! You’re not considering that it is to your advantage that one man should die for the people rather than the whole nation perish.” He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to unite the scattered children of God. So from that day on they plotted to kill him.
But even after three years of plotting they couldn’t manage to get a cohesive story straight for bringing charges against Christ. Mark tells us that they had no issue finding false witnesses - “for many were giving false testimony against Him” - but the problem was that their testimony did not agree. This wouldn’t work for the Sanhedrin’s already predetermined outcome to be legal. Deuteronomy 17:6 speaks most clearly to this issue in a capital case
Deuteronomy 17:6 CSB
The one condemned to die is to be executed on the testimony of two or three witnesses. No one is to be executed on the testimony of a single witness.
But alas they did manage to find at least two who would say something close to the same thing. But notice the tactic here - it’s one that we’ve seen employed in Biblical history before. The witnesses stand up and say “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands, and in three days I will build another not made by human hands.” They are referring to a statement that Jesus made early in His ministry. John records the statement for us in John 2:19
John 2:19 CSB
Jesus answered, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it up in three days.”
Notice the changes though. Jesus says destroy this temple - referring to others playing the role of destructors not Himself. He never mentions the construction of the Temple. John tells us that He is referring to His body in His initial statement. But here these false witnesses, borrowing on the tactics of Satan in the Garden of Eden where he embellished and altered what God said regarding the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, embellish what Christ said in order to incriminate Him in such a way as to fulfill the desires of the Sanhedrin to put Him to death. But even in this testimony Mark tells us “Yet their testimony did not agree even on this.”
No doubt frustrated by how events were transpiring, Caiaphas decides to take matters into his own hands. He stands and accosts Christ directly - “Don’t you have an answer to what these men are testifying against you?” Knowing that the testimonies were thin and contradictory he resorts to trying to get Christ to incriminate Himself. This is the ultimate in irony - that the one who was hypocritically trying to discredit Christ was in fact discrediting himself and his entire institution through this illegal court case. Christ’s integrity is unimpeachable. He is unassailable. He cannot be discredited despite all the well orchestrated attempts that have taken place throughout history to do so. He has no need to speak to His own defense because He has never done anything that needed defended.
Now the high priest again makes an error in judgement. It is one that parents learn early - never ask a question you don’t desire an answer to. He looks at Christ and asks a pointed question - “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” The Son of the Blessed One is another way to say Son of God without requiring Caiaphas to say Yahweh’s name. As Dr. MacArthur writes in his commentary on this passage “In his presumption and arrogance, the high priest hypocritically demanded truth from Jesus while perpetuating lies against Him.” He asks a pointed question, one that would receive an answer.
Christ’s answer is instructive to us in its brevity and source. How do you respond when questioned? Do you have a long, well worded defense worked out that you deliver in your own defense? Do you maybe try and deflect blame or deflect attention from what you’ve been questioned about? Look at Christ’s answer here. Note how similar it is to another testing or trial that He experienced. He says “I AM; and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Christ here in three succinct statements affirms His own divinity, affirms His resurrection and alludes to His second coming.
Notice first though the similarities in His response at this trial and this question to those He offered at a previous trial. In Mark 1 we are briefly told the details of Christ’s temptation by Satan in the desert. Matthew 4 gives us a more complete, full picture of the events as Christ answers every challenge by Satan with Scripture. Here, challenged yet again - this time by the high priest - Christ opens His mouth and out comes Scripture. He told His disciples not to determine for themselves what they would say when they were hauled before authorities and courts but that the Holy Spirit would give them the words at that time and here He is demonstrating exactly what that looks like.
He claims the title I AM. Ego Eimi. The divine name that God gave in answer to Moses when he asked who he should say had sent him. Christ had already used this name in reference to Himself. In John 8 debating with the Jews we see this exchange
John 8:57–59 CSB
The Jews replied, “You aren’t fifty years old yet, and you’ve seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden and went out of the temple.
Now here in the chief priest’s home Jesus again uses this title with reference to Himself. This alone would have been enough to seal His fate yet He compounds it by including two passages that were widely accepted as Messianic and pointing to the divine nature of the Messiah.
He says “you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power”. Christ had often referred to Himself as the Son of Man but now here He includes that in reference to Psalm 110:1
Psalm 110:1 CSB
This is the declaration of the Lord to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.”
Jesus had just used this verse as a challenge to the scribes regarding the divinity of the Messiah and now He uses it again in reference to Himself maybe alluding to the idea that, despite the direness of His present circumstances, He would be seated at the right hand of His Father later that day.
He compounds this self-attestation by adding a reference from Daniel 7:13-14 referring to the coming of the Son of Man on the clouds
Daniel 7:13–14 CSB
I continued watching in the night visions, and suddenly one like a son of man was coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was escorted before him. He was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, so that those of every people, nation, and language should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will not be destroyed.
This is pointing to His immanent return that we are all looking forward to.
This response is too much for Caiaphas to bear. Knowing the implications of every syllable that Christ had just spoken the chief priest tears his robes - really just the inner shift of his clothing - in violation of Leviticus 21:10 which says that the high priest must not dishevel his hair or tear his clothes. But he is so distressed by Christ’s claims that he demonstrates this by tearing his clothes. He then turns to the rest of the Sanhedrin and says “Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy. What is your decision?”
They all concede to the predetermined outcome and sentence Christ to death.

Assaulted By Sinners

Now to heap injury upon insult, this dignified body of men turn into a lynch mob as they surround Christ spitting on Him, the most detestable form of insult, blindfolding Him and beating Him. They were jeering at Him “Prophesy, who hit you?” Of course Christ could have told them - not only who, but how old the person was, what they were wearing, what their blood type was and every other detail about their lives. But He bears their irreverent mocking as the suffering Servant that He is.
Isaiah 53:7 CSB
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent before her shearers, he did not open his mouth.
Not only the men of the Sanhedrin but the servants began to treat Him shamefully as well. With that picture firmly embedded in his readers minds, of Christ being beaten and spat upon, Mark turns his readers attention back to the courtyard where another trial is taking place.

Abandoned By His Friends Part 2

Peter is still there warming himself by the fire when a young woman, one of the high priests maidservants comes along and recognized him. As much as he attempted to stay unnoticed, he was still recognized. “You also were with Jesus”. Not me he replies. And he shuffles off away from a fire he shouldn’t have been at to begin with. Notice here that a rooster crows after this first denial. You would think that alarm bells should be going off in Peter’s mind as it was only a few hours before that something had been told him about a rooster’s crow. But Peter pauses in the entryway, thinking he was safe.
The maidservant comes along again and now she enlists the crowd around her. “This man is one of them.” Again Peter throws his hands up - nope not me, i’m just a regular guy trying to stay warm. But he is questioned again “You are certainly one of them since you’re also a Galilean.” Peter loses it - look with me. He starts to curse and swear. These are no ordinary curses. The word for curse is anathematizo from which we get the word anathematize. It means that Peter was pronouncing a curse of divine judgement on his own head if he were lying - which he was. The verb to swear means a solemn pledge of truthfulness.
Notice also that Peter cannot even say the name of the One whom he is denying. “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.” This is a far cry from his confession in Mark 8:29 “You are the Messiah.” Rather here Peter is denying in the strongest terms possible the very One who is claiming divine Sonship not far away.
As these words leave his lips the sound of a rooster’s second crow comes to his ears and he breaks down and weeps at the magnitude of his denial and betrayal of his Lord.

Conclusion

How would you do? We know that Peter had a moment of restoration and we have the same Savior who will restore us. But how would you do? If you were put on trial for your faith - and it looks increasingly like that may be happening in the future - how would you do? Notice that there wasn’t a review of Peter’s life. We like to say that - if you were put on trial for your faith would there be enough evidence to convict you - usually when we’re trying to spur people on to actions that they already know they need to do but aren’t doing.
But if you were legitimately put on trial for your faith would you remain firm, steadfast or would you break down like Peter? Are you steeped enough in the Word that the Holy Spirit has an arsenal at His fingertips when He seeks to put words in your mouth or would it be a truly divine miracle for you to open your mouth and have Scripture pour out?
The miscarriage of justice portrayed in this passage leads to a much greater instance in which justice is completely satisfied on our behalf. Are we witnesses to this fact or are we trying to cozy up to the world and stay as close as we can without getting noticed? Just like Peter around the fire that night in the courtyard a Christian will stick out, we will get noticed and the world will not allow us to cozy up around their fire for long.
But the greatest injustice that ever took place led to the greatest justice ever known, that could ever be experienced and one that completely satisfied all of the injustices we inflict on God through our own sins. As Charles Spurgeon said:

762If we had lain in hell forever, yet divine justice would not have been fully justified, for after thousands of years of suffering there would remain still an eternity of debt due to God’s justice. If God had annihilated all the sinners that ever lived, at one stroke, he would not have so honored his justice as he did when he took sin and laid it on his Son, and his Son bore divine wrath which was due to that sin. For now there has been rendered unto divine justice a full equivalent, a complete recompense for all the dishonor which it suffered.

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