Mark 14:53-65 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. 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. 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?” 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.” 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. 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.
Jesus had just been arrested after the betrayal of one of His disciples: Judas Iscariot. Now how would they justify having Jesus killed legally? They could not just murder Him. This would look bad against the chief priests and the elders and the scribes and ultimately they could be put to death themselves for such actions. This would also be an obvious breaking of the Law that the religious leaders claimed to obey and enforce as judges within the nation of Israel. They had spiritual authority in Israel even though they had been conquered by the Romans. But they did not have the authority to kill anyone. To have someone killed they had to get approval from the Romans. How could they justify having Jesus killed by their own laws and also convince the Romans that this was the right thing to do? Then there was the problem of the people and the crowds that were fascinated by all that Jesus would do including the many miracles. He had recently raised Lazarus from the dead not far from Jerusalem (John 11:38-44) and the people in the city would have heard of this great miracle. Although Jesus had been arrested there were many obstacles that needed to be overcome in order to kill Him.
How can you convince everyone that it is a good thing to kill someone who is perfect? How can you justify by the laws within your country to have someone killed who never broke the law? Jesus never sinned. No matter how the religious leaders tried to trap Him or trick Him Jesus always responded perfectly and He always obeyed God’s Law perfectly. He often corrected the religious leaders in Israel who had misinterpreted the Law showing that He knew the Law perfectly as the author of the Law. So it was unsurprising that as the chief priests and the whole council tried to find anyone who could bring a testimony against Jesus by which they could have Him killed legally, they found none.
The only option to have someone killed who is innocent is to get false witnesses. Many bore false witness against Jesus but their testimony did not agree (verse 56). If these false witnesses did not sound believable and if their testimonies did not agree then it would be obvious to everyone that the religious leaders were just trying to use their positions of authority to have Jesus killed. There is no way that the Romans would accept this argument and the Jewish leaders knew it. What could they do? If they could not come up with an imminent solution even though they had successfully arrested Jesus, the opportunity to have Him killed would slip through their fingers and Jesus would be released and His influence would only increase. When the high priest questioned Jesus about these false witnesses He only remained silent. I can imagine the anxiety rising in the hearts of all those who wanted Jesus killed as they tried and tried to come up with a solution to justify killing Jesus but found none.
But the time had come whereby Jesus would die. His hour was at hand and He would fulfill everything that He had promised God the Father. Jesus was in complete control of even this dark and evil and wicked trial. When questioned again by the high priest, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?,” Jesus replies, “I am.” He declares directly to them, in the hearing of everyone at the council of the judges of Israel, that He is indeed the Christ. Why was this so significant? Because no man can claim to be equal with God. No man can claim to be equal with the Creator Himself. God is sooo far above man, especially man in his sinful condition. But Jesus of Nazareth is indeed equal with God. This is the truth and a truth which cannot be denied especially when anyone examines the Scriptures revealing the life of Jesus Christ as He walked upon this earth in order to pay the penalty for all of our sins. And yet the religious council did deny this. These words were all that they needed to have Jesus killed. They could accuse Jesus of blasphemy and they themselves were the witnesses for the Law says:
Leviticus 24:16 Whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death.
Never before did Jesus answer directly to the crowds who followed Him or to the religious leaders that He was the Christ. He did reveal this to others in secret. Jesus knew that He could be accused of blasphemy and put to death for admitting this directly. He always spoke and acted in a manner that revealed that He is the Christ but never gave an opportunity for the accusation of blasphemy until now. But now He spoke directly to those with the ultimate spiritual authority- the Jerusalem council. This was the last place He should have said this if He did not intend to die. But that, of course, was Jesus’ intent. Jesus gave the council the only means by which they could have Him killed- an admission from His own mouth.
But at the same time, as Jesus directly declared that He is indeed the Christ, He also condemned all those in the council who would not believe in Him. He said, “You will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” This was a statement of judgment speaking of Jesus’ second coming (Mark 13:26). Every unbeliever will see Jesus in all His glory one day but by then it will be too late. They will be eternally condemned when they see Jesus. They will be condemned for denying Him as these religious leaders denied Jesus as the Christ. Can you recognize Jesus as the Christ or do you still deny Him? Can you see how perfectly Jesus responded even in the moments leading up to His death? No one but God in the flesh could act in such an amazing way! Believe in Him!
Pastor Murray Hack