Thursday, August 2nd. Mark 14:53-65

They took Jesus to the high priest; and all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes were assembled. Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the guards, warming himself at the fire. Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for testimony against Jesus to put him to death; but they found none. For many gave false testimony against him, and their testimony did not agree. Some stood up and gave false testimony against him, saying, “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.’” But even on this point their testimony did not agree.


Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?” But he was silent and did not answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” Jesus said, “I am; and ‘you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power,’ and ‘coming with the clouds of heaven.’”


Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?” All of them condemned him as deserving death. Some began to spit on him, to blindfold him, and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” The guards also took him over and beat him. Mark 14:53-65


The legal guidelines of the Old Testament could not be more clear. Deuteronomy 17:6 is crystal clear: “On the evidence of two or three witnesses the death sentence shall be executed; a person must not be put to death on the evidence of only one witness.” as is Deuteronomy 19:15, “A single witness shall not suffice to convict a person of any crime or wrongdoing in connection with any offense that may be committed. Only on the evidence of two or three witnesses shall a charge be sustained.” 


Thus, ALL of the people who should have rightly known better, as Mark tells us that the high priest were joined by ALL the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes, were wrong.  Their power, authority, education, standing, experience – everything that they had going for them – was flushed for the sake of a mock trial intent on doing nothing but trumping up charges to remove a troublemaker.


THEY, not Jesus, were the ones on trial.  And soon Peter would join them.


My whole life I have been taught that Jesus “died” for my sins as if what happened there was Jesus carefully orchestrating an act of theological suicide in order to appease a God thirsty for the same kind of blood vengeance against sin that Jesus’ captors demanded of him.  But now I see things differently.


Now I read this story and I see it for what it is.  Jesus was unjustly murdered and that by the key power structures of religion, government, and an unthinking crowd driven only by the same dynamic that picks on kids who are “different”, that slows down traffic to gawk at accidents, that produces movies and games that glorify violence, that resents the “poor” because they get what they don’t “deserve”, or resents the “rich” because they do.  It is our idolatry, our greed, our jealousy, our willingness to turn a blind eye to the abuse of power and privilege; THIS is what drives Jesus to the cross.


It isn’t pretty.  It isn’t right.  It is called “sin” and it is the universal plague into which we have all been born.  No one is righteous, no not one.


Except for Jesus.  The one who fed the hungry, healed the sick, sat at table with surprising guests lists, and called us to do things (like loving our enemies rather than killing them) which make us very very uncomfortable.  And yet truly his is the only path to a better world.


Let us pray:  Dear Lord, it is hard to watch this play out.  To imagine your arrest.  To imagine you beaten and humiliated and standing before a crowd that is telling lies about you.  And yet we know that this happens again and again.  People abuse power far too often.  The innocent are beaten, often simply for the courage to stand up against unjust authority.  We know this is the sin of the world which you took upon your shoulders.  May watching you fill us with fresh resolve to act justly, to love kindness, and to walk more humbly in our lives.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


One Response to “Thursday, August 2nd. Mark 14:53-65”

  1. Toby Says:

    Thanks Pastor Kerry. Agree. As the church changes, as it must change, this talk of substitutionary atonement has to stop. If we are to speak of a God of love, we must leave the god of vengenance behind and Jesus must be human before becoming divine.

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