Arrested, Abandoned, Accused, and Abused

Posted: August 25, 2014 in Mark

Mark 14:43-65, “Arrested, Abandoned, Accused, and Abused"

The world had turned upside down.  Only a few days prior, Jesus had been welcomed into Jerusalem with great fanfare and acclaim.  People were wondering if this was the time the Romans were going to be overthrown and the kingdom of Israel would finally have its independence again.  Jesus had publicly confronted the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes, and the Jewish leadership were exposed as the hypocrites that they really were.  On Wednesday, it would have seemed that Jesus was on the cusp of victory and that the Jewish leadership was on its way out.  Surely by the time Passover was ended, the battle would be over.

What a difference a day makes.  Jesus had left the city with the disciples, not to come back except in secret.  They celebrated a Passover meal together, hidden away in some unnamed upper room in Jerusalem, and left again under the cover of darkness.  Jesus had spoken of a traitor in the midst of His disciples, and prophesied that all the remaining disciples would abandon Him. 

Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened.  By the time the sun rose, Jesus had been betrayed, taken into custody, and condemned to death by the Sanhedrin council.  Things looked hopeless.

The darkest expressions of mankind towards God occurred in the darkest hours of the night and morning.  It was then that the Jews rejected their King.  Come daylight, Jesus would be delivered over to the Gentiles to be crucified.  For now, the prophecies over the past three years (not to mention the past few thousand years) regarding the rejection of the Messiah had finally begun.  There was no more time for preparation; the hour was at hand.  Earlier, Jesus had prayed to His Abba Father asking for this cup to be taken from Him.  The Father’s answer to that request was "no."  Yet Jesus’ other prayer was for God’s will to be done.  The answer to that request was "yes."  That Jesus would experience betrayal, suffering, and death for us was by no means desirable to Him (why would it be?), but it is the will of God.  What Jesus was about to endure was the filthy unfiltered sin of humankind.  But the reason He would endure it was because God willed it.  Without the rejection, there would be no crucifixion.  Without the crucifixion, there would be no resurrection.  Without the resurrection, there would be no hope of salvation.  Thus God would use the hatred spewed against His Son to make His forgiveness available to those who hated Him.  THAT is the love of God made available to the world, and to you & me.

Jesus would be arrested, abandoned, accused, and abused by men – and it was all allowed by God so that we could be saved.  How have YOU responded to that demonstration of love?

Mark 14:43–65
43 And immediately, while He was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.

  1. It all happened quickly: "while He was still speaking."  All three synoptic gospel writers make this point; it obviously made an impression upon the apostles!  There Jesus is, chastising His disciples for falling asleep while they should have been praying, and while Jesus is saying, "Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand," a large group of men come upon them.  From this point onward, things are going to happen rapidly.  Jesus will be on the cross before they know it, and all the time they could have been using for prayer was gone.
    1. We often don’t realize how important prayer is until we have no time to do it.  Don’t waste your opportunity to spend time in the presence of God resting and seeking His face.  Obviously we can pray at any time in any place – Paul even writes to the Thessalonians for them to pray without ceasing (1 Ths 5:17) – but that kind of prayer is quick & fleeting.  It’s like when Peter cried out to Jesus saying "Lord, save me!" as he began to sink after walking on water (Mt 14:30).  Those prayers are necessary, but you don’t want that to be the only kind of praying you do.  Without time dedicated to God in prayer in times of rest, it’s not even likely that we will often think to cry out to God in times of emergency.  When prayer is never a priority, it rarely even becomes an afterthought.
  2. Who was it that came? "Judas, one of the twelve."  Mark had emphasized it earlier, and he does so again here.  He did not want his readers to ever lose sight of the fact that Judas was one of the twelve trusted apostles.  This was not an attack from the outside; this was a blind-side from within.  Today, just the name "Judas" evokes the picture of a traitor.  To call someone a "Judas" is to insult them deeply.  Yet at the time, it was just a common name among the Jews (the Greek form of the patriarch Judah).  There were actually two Judases among the disciples; the traitor had to often be distinguished by his last name (or hometown location…"Iscariot" could be "from Kerioth").  The point?  It was a disciple who betrayed Jesus.  One of the ones who had greatest access to Jesus, and the most trust among those who followed Jesus was the one who was a traitor to Jesus.  It was someone everyone else assumed to be a believer.  This wasn’t just someone from the crowd; this was one of the ministry leaders (the treasurer, in fact).  To us, of course we expect Judas to betray Jesus; to the original people involved, it was a grand shock.
  3. The betrayer did not come alone.  He brought an armed "multitude" with him.  According to some estimates, it was pretty large.  The description John gives uses a word that implies 600 Roman soldiers (a Roman "cohort"), perhaps taken from the ranks that had swelled the city due to Passover.  Yet the Romans (however many there were) were not all…nor were they the most important ones.  Sometimes we get the idea that Judas only brought a contingent of Roman soldiers, but that’s not the primary picture that the gospel writers paint.  All four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) describe the men who accompanied Judas as having come "from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders."  This may have included the Temple Guard, or it may have just been a group of servants and slaves sent by the priests (we’re told of at least one slave present), but in any case, it was primarily JEWS who arrested the Jewish Messiah.  The Gentiles would obviously be involved, but the focus on them would not be until later.
    1. Just as the gospel goes first for the Jews, and then out to the rest of the world, so did the Messiah go first to the Jews, and then out to the Gentiles.  The same thing happened with His rejection.  Jesus would be rejected by His own nation first, and then turned over to the Gentiles to be rejected again (and unto death).  As John writes, Jesus "came to His own, and His own did not receive Him," (Jn 1:11).

44 Now His betrayer had given them a signal, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him and lead Him away safely.”

  1. The fact that Judas had to prearrange a "signal" is itself interesting.  Jesus had been in and around Jerusalem much in the past several days, and He had been greeted with much fanfare just a few days prior on Sunday.  Why would the multitude need to have Jesus identified to them at all?  Wouldn’t they be able to recognize Him?  Not necessarily.  Remember that it was dark when Judas came with the group.  The Mount of Olives was a common place for Passover pilgrims to camp upon; it’s doubtful that Jesus and the 11 were the only people in the vicinity at the time (although they may have had some secluded spot).  It would have been easy for people to be confused at that time of the night, and Judas took a precaution in order not to leave anything to chance.  Mobs (even ones that are organized and sanctioned by the authorities) are unruly enough.  They had only come to arrest one Man; not start a small battle which would force the involvement of Roman soldiers.
  2. The signal was a sad and bitter work of irony.  It was an act of love ultimately used as a demonstration of hate.  Judas betrayed Jesus with a "kiss." It was not uncommon for disciples to greet their rabbis with a kiss on the cheek (it’s actually a common greeting for many cultures around the world), but what was uncommon about this was its intended purpose.  This wasn’t a greeting; it was a marking.  It was to be the proverbial "kiss of death."
  3. BTW – knowing that Judas was betraying Jesus over to His death, why would Judas care if Jesus was led away "safely" or not?  It wasn’t so much a matter of Jesus’ safety as it was the security of the mission.  The word could be translated "securely."  ESV, "under guard," AMP, "so as to prevent His escape."  Apparently Judas was not quite sure what to expect, be it resistance from the other disciples or resistance from Jesus Himself.
    1. Of course if Jesus had wanted to free Himself, it wouldn’t have mattered how large the multitude was that came out to arrest Him.  He had often slipped out of the hands of those who had attempted to restrain Him in the past (Jn 8:59).  And if Jesus desired to fight, He could obliterate all of them with a single thought, if He so desired!  The fact that He didn’t do any of this only goes to underscore His humility and restraint. It was Man that put Jesus upon the cross in his sin, but it was the love and willingness of Jesus that He actually went there.  He hung there out of love for you and me, to the glory of God.

45 As soon as he had come, immediately he went up to Him and said to Him, “Rabbi, Rabbi!” and kissed Him.

  1. Can you imagine the ostentatiousness?  The sarcasm dripping from his voice?  As if Judas really believed that Jesus was his beloved teacher and rabbi.  As if he truly desired to kiss Jesus as a brother or a friend.  Judas no longer thought of Jesus as his rabbi (his personal teacher), nor did he care about Jesus to greet him with any affection.  The only purpose behind the kiss was identification – and the word used to describe it indicates that he lingered long enough for the multitude to properly see whom it was Judas kissed.
  2. Sin is a horrible, wretched thing.  And it doesn’t belong only to Judas, although we like to think it does.  We read descriptions of the awfulness of sin and betrayal, and we think of Biblical people like Judas, or Absalom when he betrayed his father David, or Cain when he killed his brother Abel.  Or we think of people from our more recent history like Manson or Hitler or Pol Pot…people who are truly awful – murderers and those who are criminally insane.  We imagine those who are extreme because we don’t want to imagine ourselves in that same place…and yet we are.  We are just as guilty of sick, awful, wretched sin as any of the murderers and despots of the past.  Our sin might not send us to jail, but it certainly is capable of sending us to hell.  We might not commit murder with our hands, but we do so with our minds.  We might not beat someone physically, but we do so verbally.  And the list could go on. We engage in all kinds of wretched sin on a regular basis, and a major problem arises when we don’t see it that way.  When we start to see people like Judas differently than us – as if somehow he was more prone to treachery than we might be – that’s when we’re headed for a major fall.  Judas did not start off with the idea to betray Jesus.  No doubt when he first met Jesus, he had the same reaction as Andrew, Peter, James, John, etc.  Judas was likely excited about Jesus and wanted to learn all he could from the Man he believed might be the Messiah.  Judas was likely as amazed as everyone else to witness the miracles, and take part in the ministry.  Somewhere along the way, he turned and went down a different road.  His road could be anyone’s road, if we are not careful.  Sin is not the sole domain of the Judases of the world; it’s a reality for all people everywhere.
    1. Here’s the good news: no one HAS to remain in sin.  Unlike Judas, men and woman can put their faith in Christ and be changed.  We can be forgiven from our sin – we can be given new life and the right to be a child of God (Jn 1:12).  And for those who are already believers in Christ, we do not have to remain in our sin.  We can confess it, be cleansed from it and start anew (1 Jn 1:9).  But first we need to be honest about it.  If sin is always someone else’s problem, then we will never deal with it as our own.  No – it’s OUR issue, and the only possible solution is through The Lord Jesus Christ.

46 Then they laid their hands on Him and took Him. 47 And one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.

  1. Jesus is arrested.  Verse 46 is such a short statement that describes such a monumental event.  Mark does not write (as John does) of the multitude falling back to the ground (Jn 18:6), nor is any other supernatural event seen.  Yet according to what is told us in the pages of the Bible, for the first time in all history, Mankind laid his hand on his Creator for the purpose of doing Him harm.  Never before had anyone assaulted or made any attempt to physically restrain God (it would have been impossible to do so!), but that is exactly what took place in the Garden of Gethsemane.  In sin, we spiritually say "no" to God and assert ourselves in His place; in the garden it was physically acted out by Judas and the multitude of men.
  2. Jesus is "defended," or at least, an attempt at a defense is made.  An unnamed apostle (finally identified by John as Simon Peter) wildly swings his sword, and the best he can do is maim one of the slaves of the high priest.  Even then, Peter doesn’t deal any sort of debilitating blow – he just cuts off one of the man’s ears.  No doubt that was painful, but it wasn’t exactly something that would either (1) free Jesus, or (2) stop the slave from killing Peter in retaliation.  This was the best Peter could do in his own strength (remember he had spent no time in prayer), and he found himself to be woefully inadequate. Much will be seen of Peter’s failings and weaknesses later on through the night.  This was only the beginning.
    1. BTW – just as we can do with Judas, we can also do with Peter, and assume that what happened to him could never happen to us.  We think, "Of course Peter would fail…he’s Peter.  He rushes into everything without thinking."  How many times have we found ourselves doing exactly the same?  Peter attempted to do a good work for Jesus in his flesh, and failed – and he is by no means alone in his effort.  It’s doubtful there is a single Christian alive who has always avoided the same error.  We also blindly react, rather than trusting The Lord.  We also rush into situations in our flesh, rather than in the spirit.  We also ignore the warnings of the Bible, and believe we can handle things on our own.  In fact, the only difference between us and Peter is that he did it prior to seeing Jesus crucified, resurrected, and before being indwelled by the Holy Spirit.  We have even LESS excuse for the same reaction!  How humble we need to be & how reliant we are upon the grace of God!

48 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? 49 I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.”

  1. Jesus intervenes before things get worse.  He has to stop everyone from fighting, even telling Peter to put away his sword (Jn 18:11) & healing the servant’s ear (Lk 22:51).  As has often been observed, if Jesus had not acted, there would have been four crosses the next day, rather than three.  Peter was unable to save Jesus from death, but Jesus just saved Peter from it.
    1. We can witness unto the Lord, but we can never defend Him.  He doesn’t need our defense; we are the ones that need HIS defense.  What we CAN do (through the power of the Holy Spirit) is rely upon Him and stay loyal to Him.  That is what He is looking for from us: enduring faith.
  2. The point?  Weapons were not necessary.  Jesus had never demonstrated Himself to be violent, even when throwing over the tables of the money changers.  Not once had anyone arrested Him during the week – not once had the authorities ever felt a need to bring swords out against Jesus.  There wasn’t any point in doing it now.
  3. Why DID they come the way they did, as if they were going to arrest a violent revolutionary or terrorist?  From the viewpoint of the Jewish leadership, it was likely an act of attempted intimidation.  From the viewpoint of God, it was fulfillment of prophecy.  As Jesus said, "the Scriptures must be fulfilled." Jesus never stated which specific prophecies that were to be fulfilled, and scholars have guessed at many.  It’s possible that Jesus wasn’t referring so much to the specific mode of being arrested by an armed guard, as He was referring to His general rejection by the nation.  Isaiah 53:7, "He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth." []  Jesus could never have been taken if He had not been willing to be taken (no matter how many swords were drawn); He had to submit Himself to be led away – and that’s exactly what took place.  He never protested His arrest, nor did He approve of anyone fighting His arrest.  This was the will and the plan of God, and Jesus was fully submitted to it.

50 Then they all forsook Him and fled.

  1. If there was one prophecy that was certainly fulfilled that night, it was one that Jesus had taught mere hours earlier.  Mark 14:27, Then Jesus said to them, ‘All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: "I will strike the Shepherd, and sheep will be scattered." ‘ []  All the disciples had denied it, but what Jesus spoke was the truth.  (Never doubt the word of God!)  Jesus was left truly alone at that moment, abandoned by His disciples as they fled for their lives.
    1. Again, it is difficult for us to judge them too harshly.  No doubt all of us would have done the same thing.  If those 11 disciples fled after spending three years in the very presence of Jesus, not much would have kept us by His side.  Yet there is one major difference between the 11 and us – a difference between the 11 disciples that night and the same 11 disciples a little more than 50 days later: the presence and empowerment of the Holy Spirit.  Where our flesh will always fail, the Spirit of God empowers us to endure.  The very reason that persecuted believers all around the world are able to stand firm for Jesus despite dangers to their lives (and the lives of their loved ones) is because God the Holy Spirit enables them to stand.  (How do we have access to the power and filling of the Holy Spirit?  Through prayer!)
  2. The 11 disciples were not the only people to abandon Jesus that night.  The gospel of Mark mentions one other.  Vs. 51…

51 Now a certain young man followed Him, having a linen cloth thrown around his naked body. And the young men laid hold of him, 52 and he left the linen cloth and fled from them naked.

  1. This account is only given to us in Mark’s gospel, and Mark leaves the "young man" completely unnamed.  Many have speculated that this is Mark’s way of mentioning himself, showing himself at the scene of Jesus’ arrest as a witness to it all.  It is certainly possible.  The man John Mark (a nephew of Barnabas, and one of the original helpers to the apostle Paul) is listed as being from Jerusalem (Acts 12:25), and the early church actually met in the home of his mother (Acts 12:12).  He is thought to be somewhat young (and thus immature) when traveling with Paul and Barnabas, and thus he would have been even younger when Jesus was crucified.  Perhaps he was part of the household that lent the upper room to Jesus for the Passover meal, and followed the disciples as they left after dinner.  Others theorize that perhaps the young John Mark was awakened from sleep when Judas and the multitude returned to the house looking for Jesus, and Mark ran off straight from bed to the Mount of Olives in a vain attempt to warn Him.  There’s no way to know for certain – any possibility is pure speculation.  It’s one of those minor questions that we’ll learn the answer to when we get to heaven (if we even care about such trivia at that point).
  2. One thing that is interesting is how he left (literally) everything behind as he ran away.  With Jesus, he was clothed.  Without Jesus, he was naked.  We don’t want to miss the main point as there is a normal and natural explanation, but we can easily see a spiritual illustration.  Outside of the power of God, Peter & the other disciples were just as spiritually naked as the boy was physically.  They had nothing with which to resist the devil, and they were powerless.  Even more, outside of the righteousness of Jesus, we are naked and exposed.  We have nothing to offer God; we are simply weak in our sin.  Only Jesus is able to clothe us in His righteousness, and that is the only way we can stand before God.

53 And they led Jesus away to the high priest; and with him were assembled all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes.

  1. Please note that the priests, elders, and scribes were already "assembled." Remember that this is the middle of the night, and that these were the ones who had bribed Judas to go betray Jesus and hand Jesus over to them.  This was an illegal trial, already decided by the biased judges and jurors.  According to Jewish tradition, legal matters were supposed to be settled during the daytime, and according to the Scriptures, legal matters were supposed to be settled at the place of God’s choosing (Dt 17:8); not the house of the high priest (per Jn 18:15).  This was a kangaroo court, set up to look official, but in reality, anything but.
  2. It was planned by the Sanhedrin, but even in this they were working according to the plans of God.  This was the assembly of the Jewish nation (represented by leadership), and they were about to reject their promised Messiah King.  This is exactly what had been foretold by the prophets, and even in their sin, this was the sovereign plan of God at work.  Jesus was foretold to be the stone rejected by the builders (Ps 118:22) – that the Messiah would be abhorred by the nation (Isa 49:7) – that He would not be desired by the Jews (Isa 53:2), and more.  The history of the Hebrews is littered with instances of the people rejecting God’s outreaches to them – we don’t need to look any further than the book of Exodus.  Not only did the Israelites repeatedly reject God, they were also prophesied to reject the Anointed One sent to them from God: their Messiah.  The Sanhedrin are not excused from their sin, but we should never lose sight of the fact that God was in control the entire time.  Jesus was meant to be rejected by the Jews.  If He had not, there would never have been a Savior for the Jews, nor for the Gentiles.

54 But Peter followed Him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he sat with the servants and warmed himself at the fire.

  1. The scene changes for a brief moment, setting up what is to come.  Jesus was inside, and Peter was outside.  Interestingly, although all the disciples had originally scattered from Jesus, Peter came back and "followed Him at a distance."  John tells us that there was another disciple who was known by the high priest that also followed Jesus to the house of the high priest, and it was that disciple who let Peter in the gate (Jn 18:15-16).  But that is only two out of 11.  Where were the rest?  Scripture doesn’t tell us.  Each one of the disciples had vehemently denied the possibility of abandoning Jesus, and each one was wrong.  At least two came back, and even for how hard Peter was about to fall, at least he was there in the vicinity (which is more than can be said about others).
  2. We’ll look at Peter next week, but we can see the beginning of his fall here.  Peter did follow Jesus, but he followed Jesus "at a distance."  He kept his distance from his Lord and Master, and tried to simply blend in with the crowd.  This was the start of Peter’s troubles.  When we follow Jesus, we make the decision to follow Him, or not.  We cannot sit on the fence, or try to stay somewhat ambivalent about Him.  We cannot try to have some loyalty with Jesus, and still try to fit in with the world around us.  As Jesus taught, we cannot serve two masters (Mt 6:24) – one is always going to be ignored, and most likely it will be Jesus who we decide to force to the back.

55 Now the chief priests and all the council sought testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none. 56 For many bore false witness against Him, but their testimonies did not agree.

  1. Jesus has been arrested – He’s been abandoned – and now He is accused.  Witnesses rise up to testify against Jesus, but they are false.  Actually, this is one more example of the illegality of the trial.  In a proper Hebrew trial, it would be the witnesses who bring the accused before the priests for judgment; not the priests seeking out witnesses against the accused.  They have it backwards.  They don’t care about justice; they just care about the appearance of justice.  This is the hypocrisy of the Sanhedrin on full display.  They wanted the appearance of the law and righteousness; not righteousness itself.  The OT Law required that a minimum of two witnesses were needed to bring a judgment of capital punishment (Dt 17:6), and that’s all the priests cared about finding.  They wanted two witnesses; it didn’t matter if they told the truth or not.  They just needed to agree enough regarding a crime that would be worthy of the death sentence for Jesus.
  2. Ironically, the false witnesses actually bear testimony to Jesus’ integrity.  How so?  They couldn’t agree on any testimony against Him!  Jesus lived in such a way that not even two liars could be found to corroborate their stories enough to condemn Jesus to death.

57 Then some rose up and bore false witness against Him, saying, 58 “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.’ ” 59 But not even then did their testimony agree.

  1. Finally some liars were found to agree a bit on a story.  The story was completely false, but by this point the truth didn’t matter in the slightest to the priests.  Even here, Mark points out that their stories still didn’t "agree."  Apparently the liars corroborated a bit, but not enough to bring about a legal conviction.  Not that it mattered.  This court had predetermined the outcome already; they just needed to go through the motions.
  2. What was the story?  They claimed that Jesus said He would destroy the temple.  Absolutely false.  What they did was either combine or corrupt two very different teachings from Jesus.  Only a day before Jesus had taught of the destruction of the temple (Mk 13:2).  A threat made against a temple (ANY temple, throughout the Roman Empire) would be viewed as a capital crime.  Yet Jesus never once claimed to personally be the One to destroy it.  For anything close to that kind of wording, Jesus’ detractors would have to reach back almost three years prior to another visit of Jesus to Jerusalem, to the very beginning of His ministry.  At that time, Jesus had once again been in Jerusalem for the Passover, and had once also cleansed the temple from the corruption of the money changers.  After cleansing the temple, the Jews asked Him what sign He could demonstrate that would give evidence of His authority to do such a thing, and Jesus told them to "Destroy this temple, and in three days" He would raise it up (Jn 2:19) – a prophecy referring to His death and resurrection.  Even then, Jesus never said that HE would destroy the temple, but that THEY would destroy the temple of His body.  In any case, the witnesses were absolutely false – either intentionally distorting the words of Jesus or making things up as they went.
  3. The problem was that even with their basic story being the same, apparently the details were somehow different.  It wasn’t enough to bring a conviction, and the high priest loses his cool…

60 And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, saying, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?” 61 But He kept silent and answered nothing. …

  1. By this point, we can imagine the frustration of the high priest.  After all, they’ve gone through a lot of trouble to get Jesus arrested, assemble a court, and put on the appearances of a trial.  Now even with all of the lying liars they’ve got in the room, they can’t find enough evidence to trump up a charge against Jesus.  So what does the priest do?  He tries to goad Jesus…to provoke Him to respond in such a way that Jesus might end up convicting Himself.  If Jesus responded to the charges against Him, the priest thought that perhaps He would tacitly be agreeing that there was at least a grain of truth in what was said against Him.
  2. Jesus doesn’t fall for the bait.  "He kept silent" – He didn’t need to say a word.  Not only was this a fulfillment of prophecy ("so He opened not His mouth," Isa 53:7), it was also good strategy.  There was no reason to respond to what was obviously untrue.  Not even the high priest could agree with the testimony of the liars – why would Jesus need to say anything at all?
    1. There’s a practical lesson here.  Too often, we are too quick to open our mouths when someone comes against us, and we end up in more trouble than we started with.  We end up digging a hole for ourselves that wasn’t there in the first place.  Often, those who lie about us will end up exposing themselves for what they are…let them.  Sometimes our egos are so fragile that we can’t let one untruth stand for a moment without a response, but a personal defense from us isn’t always the best response.  Far better for people to see the truth for themselves rather than being "sold" on our personal defense.
    2. Ultimately, we need to let God be our defense.  God is far more capable of defending us than we are; we simply don’t often give Him time to work.
    3. Even in Jesus’ case, God was working.  Jesus was meant to go to the cross, but He wouldn’t go there for some petty lie against Him about a perceived threat to the temple; He would go there under the full rejection of Him as the Messiah.  God protected Jesus from the lies, and allowed the high priest to get to the real issue at hand.

…Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”

  1. After all of the games, deceptions, and tricks, finally the high priest gets to the real issue.  This is what he really wanted to know, and he asks Jesus directly who Jesus claimed to be.  (He could have saved himself a lot of time and frustration if he had asked this up front!)
  2. "Christ" is simply the Greek translation of the Hebrew word "Messiah," meaning "Anointed One."  Many people in Hebrew culture were anointed for service: priests, prophets, and kings among them.  In fact, the high priest himself had undoubtedly gone through his own ritual of anointing when he received the priesthood.  Of course the priest wasn’t asking about a general anointing, but something specific: was Jesus THE Christ?  Was Jesus THE Anointed One spoken of in prophecy to be the blessing of Abraham – the prophet like unto Moses – the heir of the throne of David?  Ultimately, it was the kingdom that was in view.  Every heir of David was seen as an anointed son of God, but there was one Son in particular that had been prophesied – One for which God would establish His throne forever (2 Sam 7:13).  That’s what the high priest was asking.  Was Jesus THE Christ?  Was He the One that all of Israel ought to be expecting?
    1. Not that the priest was willing to submit to Jesus.  He wanted Jesus to identify Himself, but he didn’t want Jesus to assert Himself.  He wanted Jesus to say the words so that he would have all the excuse he needed to reject Him.
    2. This is the same position as many today.  Many people know exactly WHO Jesus is; they just don’t want Him.  They don’t want to serve anyone except themselves, and they resent the idea that God might require otherwise.
  3. Notice that the high priest is under no illusions of who the Christ is: "the Son of the Blessed," or as Matthew records, "the Son of God." (Mt 26:63)  There is no one and nothing more blessed than Almighty God, the Source of all blessing.  To call Jesus "the Son of the Blessed" IS to call Him the Son of God.  In any case, it is a direct tie to deity.  When the high priest of Jerusalem asks Jesus if Jesus is the Christ, the priest is asking Jesus if He is God.  The Jews had no misconceptions or misgivings about this.  They did not try to parse this somehow to make the Christ somehow more than man, but less than God – they knew well that to be the Son of God is to be God Himself.  Although scholars debate it, it seems that the Jews expected the Christ to be God, which is exactly what the high priest asked Jesus.
    1. There are many groups that attempt to claim that Jesus never said that He was God – yet that is the consistent testimony of the New Testament.  That was the very charge against Him leveled by the high priest of the Jews.  If they did not think that Jesus claimed to be God (much more having given much proof that He IS indeed God), then they wouldn’t have cared anything about Him.  Other prophets had come & gone – other false messiahs had been hoisted on their own petards.  Jesus was different.  What Jesus said and did actually demonstrated that He IS God, and thus when Jesus claimed it for Himself, His claim was legitimately believed by the priests – which is exactly why they viewed Him as a threat.

62 Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

  1. The high priest asked a direct question, and Jesus gives a direct answer.  In fact, He could not have been more direct if He tried.  When asked if He is the Son of God, Jesus answers "I am" – the very name revealed by God to Moses at the burning bush.
  2. Not only did Jesus reveal His identity, He revealed His future.  At the moment, Jesus sat in this kangaroo court with the high priest pretending judgment over Him, yet in the future, Jesus would show Himself in all His power and exercise true judgment over all the earth.  Jesus’ answer seems to reference the prophecy of Daniel: Daniel 7:13-14, "(13) I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven!  He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. (14) Then 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 the one which shall not be destroyed." []  Is Jesus the Christ?  YES!  And one day, all the world will know Him in all His glory.  One day, none will be able to deny or ignore or debate the fact that Jesus is God in the flesh. One day, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
    1. Will you acknowledge Jesus as the Christ now or later?  When you do determines where you will spend eternity.

63 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “What further need do we have of witnesses? 64 You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?” And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.

  1. The false witnesses were no longer required.  It no longer mattered if they could agree to a lie of how Jesus may or may not destroy the temple.  Now all the Sanhedrin heard the testimony for themselves, how Jesus directly claimed to be the Christ, the Son of God.  They had all the witnesses they needed…not just 2-3, but a whole roomful of people (up to 70).
  2. Q: WOULD Jesus be deserving of death for the charge of blasphemy?  Yes – if it were truly blasphemy.  To be sure, execution for blasphemy was to be carried out via stoning, not crucifixion – there were still many aspects to this fake trial that were illegal.  But if anyone else had falsely claimed to be God (and thus deserving to be worshipped as God), then yes, that person would be committing blasphemy, and rightly condemned to die in ancient Israel according to the Mosaic covenant (Lev 24:16).  BUT – Jesus did not commit the charge of blasphemy.  When Jesus claimed to be the Christ, the Son of the Blessed, Jesus was not crazy, deceptive, nor mistaken; He spoke the truth.  Jesus could not be rightly charged with blasphemy because it is impossible for the Son of God to commit blasphemy.  He IS God, and He IS rightly deserving of worship as God.
    1. If the accusation was that Jesus taught that He is God, then He is guilty as charged.  Yet if it is true, it vastly changes a person’s response to Him.  That was the one option that the priests, scribes, and elders never considered.  What if it was true?  What if Jesus truly IS the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?  If so, they were not to give Him scorn and judgment; they owed Him their allegiance and worship.  Likewise with so many today.  They’ve heard the news of Jesus, but they’ve never stopped to consider whether or not it’s true.  Not so much whether or not they WANT it to be true, but whether or not it IS true.  After all, we cannot determine for ourselves whether or not something is or is not true; we can only respond to what the truth actually is.  (For example, we cannot decide whether or not we want to believe in gravity – all we need to do is step off a cliff, or trip over a tree root…)  If what Jesus claimed IS true, then that ought to wipe away all objections to Him.  If He IS God, then all our previous objections don’t really matter a hill of beans.  We must respond to Him as God if it is the truth.
    2. And it IS.  Jesus IS the Christ, the Son of God.  How do we know?  By His resurrection from the dead (Rom 1:4).  How have you responded to that truth?  HAVE you responded at all?

65 Then some began to spit on Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him, and to say to Him, “Prophesy!” And the officers struck Him with the palms of their hands.

  1. Once Jesus was condemned as a criminal, the abuse began.  This was sheer hatred and evil, poured out upon the Creator God.  There was no need for this kind of treatment.  He was already arrested – His disciples had already abandoned Him – He was already in the hands of the Sanhedrin – it was already determined that He would be handed over to the Romans.  What good would this kind of beating bring?  None.  All it was, was hatred and abuse.  As with Judas, this is simply the wretchedness of man on display.  Given the chance to abuse its Maker, that’s exactly what mankind does.
  2. Think for a moment of the restraint exercised by Jesus here.  He knew where every drop of spittle originated.  He knew the lips who mocked Him.  He knew exactly which officers lifted their hands against Him.  Men had died for less.  Comparatively far better men had died for far less offenses.  We remember Uzzah, how he had put his hand to the Ark of the Covenant, trying to steady it as it was being carted along a bumpy road.  Uzzah was struck dead in an instant (2 Sam 6:6-7).  Why?  He had not shown respect for the holiness of God.  He thought his hand was cleaner than the ground that the ark would fall upon.  And yet here are truly evil men raising their hands against the Son of God!  Each one of them could have (and perhaps SHOULD have) been struck dead.  God could have obliterated every one of them from existence.  Jesus could have called for angels, cursed the men personally, or done any number of things in His own defense.  Yet He did nothing.  He stayed there and suffered the indignity and abuse that mankind could heap upon Him. 

Conclusion:
Why did Jesus do it?  Why did He suffer that kind of abuse and scorn?  He did it for us.  He did it because it was the will of God, and because it was the only way that God could extend salvation to us.  Of all the people throughout all history, the very LAST person who should have ever experienced this kind of hatred  did.  Jesus didn’t deserve it…we did.

Like Judas and the chief priests, in our unbelief we scorned the God who loved us.  We turned away from the truth, not wanting to give God the worship He rightly deserves – instead heaping abuse upon the God who loves us and created us.

Or like Peter, John Mark, and the other disciples, though we believe in Jesus, we failed Him.  We went into spiritual warfare woefully unprepared, built up in our pride – only to see it all come crashing down around us.

Either way, we failed.  We fell short.  We were the sinful – the wretched – and we were the ones who deserved this kind of treatment.  Yet we didn’t receive it; Jesus did.  The Innocent One – the Christ – the Son of the Blessed God – HE was the One arrested, abandoned, accused, and abused on our behalf by our own hands.  He experienced the rejection of the world in order that we could experience the reconciliation with God.  He did it willingly, He did it lovingly, and He did it for you & for me to the glory of God.

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Comments
  1. Two thousand years ago, and people are still going on about the poor Jesus being betrayed by the evil Judas. But it is for lack of knowledge (not faith), that my people are destroyed. Judas is in fact Jesus, writ large. Both are men of sorrows, although Judas is more. Jesus, with some assistance, was hung on a cross. Judas hung himself. Both take leave of the story, more or less simultaneously.” Let thine eye be single,” says Jesus, “I and the Father are one.” It’s time to do away with the presence of that old devil, duality, on earth. Jesus is but the allegorical forerunner of the real Messiah, Judas. And when one realizes this, all of scripture falls into place. Please pick up on this, before it’s too late.

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