LoS: Exposition – Mark 14:61b-72

Alessandro_Mantovani_Jesus_before_the_High_Priest_700In the verses between 14:42 and 14:61b Judas leads a group of armed guards from the Sanhedrin[1] to arrest Jesus. He betrays Jesus by identifying Him with a kiss. Jesus is arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin where numerous individuals bear false witness against Him. However the false testimony is conflicting, as is so often the case with lies. Jesus remains silent throughout the entire charade. Finally, the high priest addresses Jesus directly with the question that would change the world forever.

14 61bAgain the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”

62“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.”

63The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. 64“You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”

They all condemned him as worthy of death. 65Then 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.

Consider what these religious leaders must have known about Jesus. They would have heard reports of miracles of healing, feeding and even rising of the dead. They had heard for themselves the power and authority with which He taught. And yet, they didn’t stop for an instant to consider the possibility that this man might be the Messiah, so entrapped were they in the web of their worldly schemes.

Their purpose was far more than simply killing Jesus. They wanted to so denigrate, so humiliate Jesus that His death would be but the final step in the process of total annihilation. They wanted anyone who had ever so much as thought kindly of this Man to shudder and turn away. And for those who followed Him to scatter to the wind in terror, living out the rest of their pitiful lives denying that they had ever known this fool prophet. Let any doubters follow Peter into the courtyard and then Christ to His Cross.[2]

14 66While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. 67When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.

     “You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.

68But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway.

69When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” 70Again he denied it.

After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.”

71He began to call down curses on himself, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”

Note the escalating violence of Peter’s responses. They likely track his swelling sense of fear as the dismal reality of what is unfolding becomes apparent. Jesus has been arrested and cruelly mistreated but there are no legions of angels arriving to defend Him. He is alone, beaten and humiliated; looking nothing like a Messiah. Peter must have been at a minimum in a terrible state of confusion, and possibly in great despair.

72Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

This is the moment that Peter experienced the infinite negative void of his soul. Peter had denied his Master just as He had predicted. His failure had proceeded like clockwork. But the Savior to whom he had pledged everything was apparently on His way to an ignominious death. And he might well be next. All of that paled next to the sense of shame for having betrayed such love, such wisdom, and such truth as he had experienced while at the side of his beloved Master, Jesus, whom he had announced to be the Christ.


[1] San·hed·rin n

the supreme Jewish judicial, ecclesiastical, and administrative council in ancient Jerusalem before AD 70, having 71 members from the nobility and presided over by the high priest

[2] Nothing in this manuscript is intended to allow for the great sin of anti-Semitism to be supported. It is an undeniable matter of fact that Jewish religious leaders played a central role in Christ’s Passion. It is an equally undeniable fact that Christianity was born from the Jewish faith, that its earliest followers were all Jewish, that the New Testament teaches that the Jewish Nation still has a special role to play in God’s plan for salvation, and that we Christians share the Old Testament in common with our Jewish brothers and sisters. Even if none of the above were true, Christianity is a faith that values and loves the human being and the soul that is encased within. Our calling is not to cast blame and hate but rather to seek and to save in the powerful Name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. But if anyone were to demand an answer for who is to blame for Christ’s crucifixion, the answer is only as far as the nearest mirror.

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