The Gospel of Mark

Mark - Lesson 14F

Chapter 14:53-65

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  • Last time, we witnessed the betrayal of Judas towards Jesus with an elusive kiss in the Garden of Gethsemane.

    • That kiss became the sign by which the Roman cohort and Temple officials would identify the subject in whom they would arrest – the Lord Jesus.

      • This moment, for Peter, would be marked by his ability to either come to the defense of Jesus or to tuck-tail and run.

      • And to be a man of his word, he took the initiative to strike and kill one of the guards, however he misses and chops off the ear of Malchus, the slave of the high priest Caiaphas.

    • After this premature attack, to redirect the moment, Jesus heals the man’s ear and pivots to questioning the method of His capture, as if some common criminal.

      • It would be this pivot that gave way for the disciples to flee the imminent danger that lay ahead for Jesus.

      • He has foretold, several times, this path of suffering to His disciples and spoke to their abandonment of Him at this moment.

      • This ultimately left Jesus alone in the garden of Gethsemane with potentially a thousand men now preparing to lead him to, what I deem, an illegitimate trial before the high priest.

    • Lastly, we saw from the last two verses the mention of a strange man who followed behind Jesus in white linen cloths, but upon being caught, he too fled for safety.

      • And what we saw from these two obscure verses was the reality of the full abandonment of Jesus by his disciples and followers at this time.

      • That what He would endure in the next few hours, no one could come to endure with Him.

      • That this sole journey to the cross would be something that only Christ alone could bear and take on as the ransom for the many.

    • Tonight, we are going to witness the beginnings of the religious trial that Jesus will face as the religious leaders seek to indict him on false charges.

      • What will become quite disturbing is the extent to which these religious leaders go out of their way to bend the rules, by any means necessary, to kill Jesus to protect their religious clout.

    • Here is our outline for what we will uncover tonight in our teaching. We will see the following things:

      • 1. Religious Trial before Annas (John 18:12-14) - Background

      • 2. Religious Trial before Caiaphas (Mark 14:53-59)

      • 3. The High Priest puts Jesus under Oath (v.60-62)

      • 4. A Verdict is Rendered (v.63-65)

    • If I were to put a tag on tonight’s text, it would be: A Miscarriage of Justice: The Trial of Christ.

      • With that being said, meet me in Mark 14:53-65 for the reading of the word of the Lord.

Mark 14:53  They led Jesus away to the high priest; and all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes *gathered together. 
Mark 14:54 Peter had followed Him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the officers and warming himself at the fire. 
Mark 14:55 Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, and they were not finding any. 
Mark 14:56 For many were giving false testimony against Him, but their testimony was not consistent. 
Mark 14:57 Some stood up and began to give false testimony against Him, saying, 
Mark 14:58 “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.’” 
Mark 14:59 Not even in this respect was their testimony consistent. 
Mark 14:60 The high priest stood up and came forward and questioned Jesus, saying, “Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?” 
Mark 14:61 But He kept silent and did not answer. Again the high priest was questioning Him, and saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” 
Mark 14:62 And Jesus said, “I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” 
Mark 14:63 Tearing his clothes, the high priest *said, “What further need do we have of witnesses? 
Mark 14:64 You have heard the blasphemy; how does it seem to you?” And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death. 
Mark 14:65 Some began to spit at Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him with their fists, and to say to Him, “Prophesy!” And the officers received Him with slaps in the face.

(Re-read v.53-59)

  • We come to the section of our text tonight that addresses the trials of Jesus. He will endure several trials as we will discover in the coming weeks.

    • The first round of trials would consist of a religious, Jewish trial while the others consist of a civil Gentile trial, led by the Romans.

      • According to Mark’s gospel, starting in verse 53, he states that Jesus was led away from the garden of Gethsemane to the high priest’s home before the Sanhedrin council.

      • However, as we read further, we notice that Mark’s account begins the trial with Caiaphas leading the proceedings, whereas John’s gospel begins with Annas’ trial.

      • The question becomes: “Chronologically speaking, which high priest does Jesus meet first?” We find this answer in John 18:24.

      • Check out the text:

John 18:24 So Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
    • Another question that arises is: “Why is Jesus first led to Annas if Caiaphas is the high priest during that year?”

    • Annas served as high priest from AD 6/7 to AD14. He was later deposed by Valerius Gratus who was the Roman governor at the time.

      • However, Annas retained control of the priesthood as he was succeeded by his sons, including his son-in-law, Caiaphas.

      • Therefore, the imagery of Annas’ role becomes like that of the Godfather.

      • Not only did Annas have such control of the priesthood, but he was the head of the private money-changing business.

    • So, with Jesus having interrupted his business on several occasions, it became clear that Annas had a “personal grudge” against Jesus, therefore he pulls his power card to address Jesus first.

      • This ultimately leads the trial to begin with Annas and then move to Caiaphas within the same compound.

    • Despite the trial beginning with Annas, we come to realize through the gospel records that some serious flaws are found in these proceedings.

      • Within Matthew, Mark, and John’s accounts, all three showcase multiple cases of abuse of Jewish Jurisprudence and ignoring of Jewish Law within these trials.

    • It’s in the early morning that John’s gospel mentions that Peter had followed Jesus to the high priest’s home to see what was going to happen to Him.

      • An unnamed disciple, potentially the beloved disciple John, helps Peter to get into the courtyard.

      • Most scholars agree the Apostle John and his family had familiar contact to the priesthood through Salome and Elizabeth.

      • This supposed relationship allowed the doorkeeper to permit Peter to accompany John through the gates and into the courtyard.

    • Peter is now in the courtyard on a cold, dark early morning around the same men that have arrested Jesus.

      • John 18 mentions that he is standing near the charcoal fire to warm himself.

      • The fact that Peter was not been arrested at this point, yet is “in the light” of the fire, shows us that the officers clearly could not facially recognize him amongst the officers.

      • This allows Peter to gain the inside scoop on this farce of a trial.

      • From this point, Peter’s narration fades to the background as Jesus and the illegalities of this trial rise to the forefront.

    • Now because we are walking through Mark’s gospel, I want to stick with our text, however, I believe it is important that we identify a few things from the first trial documented by John. Here is what we should take away:

      • 1. There are several issues that help us identify that these beginning proceedings were illegal in their initiation.

      • 2. Secondly, the first half of this religious trial, under Annas, was without the authority of a specific charge.

    • Let’s begin with the illegalities of this preliminary religious trial – in which these guidelines were set by the Mishnah:

      • 1. First, no trials were to occur before the morning of the sacrifice.

      • 2. All trials were to be public therefore deeming secret trials, such as this one, to be illegal.

      • 3. All Sanhedrin trials were to be held in the Hall of Judgement in the Temple area, not in the High Priest’s home.

      • 4. Capital cases required a minimum of twenty-three judges, however, due to the trial being at night, the required number wasn’t available.

      • 5. This one speaks volumes in this case: There had to be an assumption of innocence until proven guilty, similar to what we have here in the United States. This was essential within Jewish Jurisprudence.

      • 6. An accused person could not testify against himself, which is why Jesus responds the way He does in John 18:20-21 which leads to the 7th issue.

      • 7. There had to be at least two witnesses in which their testimonies had to be in perfect agreement. (Numbers 5:30, Deuteronomy 17:6;19:15)

    • Lastly, we see that this preliminary trial ended with no specific charge. This corroborates Jesus’ very words in John 18:23 where He said, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify of the wrong; but if rightly, why do you strike Me?”

      • In other words, provide me the evidence of my guilt or wrongdoing/saying.

    • The reality was, there was no cause for Jesus’ arrest except for the fact that He was hated and reviled for who He was and what He came to do.

      • So, with this background in mind, we now pick back up to the second trial held before Caiaphas in verses 53-59 of Mark 14.

    • It’s after the initial hearing by Annas that he sends Jesus to Caiaphas.

      • At this point Jesus is standing before the Sanhedrin council to be sentenced to death, however, Mark makes mention of several judicial issues that arise even before the council.

      • It can be assumed that at this point, both Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were absent from these proceedings.

    • As I mentioned before, one of the things required by Jewish Law was that there had to be two to three witnesses that could attest to the crime committed.

      • Along with those two to three witnesses must be a consistent testimony that had to be corroborated separately to refrain from false testimonies.

    • However, as verse 55b tells us, with the council’s persistence to find consistent testimony, they failed to find any.

      • It became clear that most witnesses they recruited spewed false testimony and the council let those matters go unchecked.

      • This even more shows the reader that the intent of this council was to distort justice, by any means, in order to attain what they wanted – to kill the Lord Jesus.

    • One thing that the text makes evidently known is that the hearts of these men were set upon evil and in turn they completely distorted justice.

      • What makes this proceeding such a farce is that according to the Mishnah, those who provided false testimony were to be legally put to death.

      • Yet here we find the council not condemning but cooperating with these false witnesses to attain the verdict that they have already prepared.

    • At this point, these men are simply following legal formalities to get their end result.

      • If there was ever a moment in which justice was abused and the system of law and governance misused, it was here.

      • Yet, it would be the same abused and suffering Christ who would soon die, even for such as these.

    • In verses 57-59 Mark tells us that false testimonies continued to come forth and this time, some stood up and provided false testimony in which “they say” Jesus said something He didn’t.

      • The text, in verse 58, says “We heard Him say, I will destroy the temple made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.”

    • In a plain reading through Mark and Matthew’s account, we see these two testimonies are not the same, and Mark emphatically notes it as false (Mark 14:59)

      • Mark’s gospel states that one witness says “I will destroy this temple...”

      • Matthew’s gospel states the other witness says, “I am able to destroy the temple”.

    • However, to verify what was said, we need to see how these witnesses distorted Jesus’ words in the first place.

      • It’s in John 2:19 that we have evidence these men have completely taken Jesus’ words out of context.

      • Jesus’ own words were misinterpreted in that He was speaking cryptically.

    • He was referring to the temple as “His” body being destroyed yet will be raised in three days.

      • Whereas these men heard about the destruction of the temple and assumed the ornate building of that day was being threatened, which would have been deemed a capital offense.

    • So, it becomes clear that the means of garnering a proper witness is backfiring which now moves the high priest to press Jesus further. Check out verses 60-62.

Mark 14:60 The high priest stood up and came forward and questioned Jesus, saying, “Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?” 
Mark 14:61 But He kept silent and did not answer. Again the high priest was questioning Him, and saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” 
Mark 14:62 And Jesus said, “I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”
  • It is after the failure of the witnesses’ lack of agreed testimonies that Caiaphas speaks up and stands forward in an attempt to question Jesus which ultimately leads him to putting Jesus under oath.

    • Caiaphas seeks to rouse a response from Jesus based upon the false accusations that have been spewed by the false witnesses.

      • The natural inclination of the human heart, in moments of injustice, is to cry out loud for justice to be served. However, Jesus recognizes the tactic because He knows the intention.

      • For if Jesus responds, they will simply distort what He says to prove Him wrong.

      • As James Edwards writes, “Whatever Jesus says in self-defense will result in self-incrimination”.

      • So, in response to being placed under such unjust scrutiny, Jesus takes the high road of silence.

    • Jesus’ silence not only spoke to the reality of the importance of needing not to defend your character amidst false accusations, but it also came with Messianic overtones. We see this from Isaiah 53:7.

Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
  • It would be the silence of our Savior that not only spoke evidently of His innocence but mightily of His willingness to suffer on our behalf.

    • Matthew’s gospel (Matthew 26:63) records that Jesus’ silence towards the high priest’s line of question apparently irritated Caiaphas to the point that he placed Jesus under oath.

      • And that statement proceeded with “I adjure you by the living God, that you tell us whether you are the Christ, the Son of God.”

      • Mark’s gospel records that the high priest questioned Jesus in a similar manner, but rather than saying God, he used, “The Blessed One”.

      • “Blessed One” was a title found, in this sense, only here in the New Testament which is a Jewish substitute for God. Both these titles pointed to Jesus’ claim as being the Messiah.

    • It is from this binding question within this trial that Jesus emphatically and unequivocally answers the question of the high priest.

      • Jesus responds by saying, “I am”. That phrase in Greek is “Ego eimi” which confirmed the fact that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.

      • The phrase, “I AM” is the familiar phrase that Jesus used in the Garden.

      • And this is the same phrase that Yahweh used with Moses in the burning bush.

    • Jesus emphatically and declaratively states He is the Son of God and the Messiah sent from God. In plain terms, Jesus declared Himself to be God!

      • Here is but a piece of truth that speaks to the clear Christology of Mark’s gospel!

    • Not only does Jesus make this statement of truth, but He further builds upon it by stating that all will see, in a future day, Jesus sitting at the right hand of Power which, as we saw in Psalm 110:1, is a place of great authority and of high honor.

      • As well as Him coming with the clouds of heaven.

    • In other words, it not only speaks to the guarantee of His resurrection, but it affirms His return in His Second Coming which will be in judgment and to rule in power (Daniel 7:13-14)

      • In other words, the suffering servant must first be crucified and raised in power before He comes back to the earth reigning as a victorious King who would unleash total judgment upon all who have committed injustice towards Him!

      • After Jesus responds in this manner, it is as if the high priest boils with anger which leads to him tearing off his robe and rendering a false verdict. Check out verses 63-65.

Mark 14:63 Tearing his clothes, the high priest *said, “What further need do we have of witnesses? 
Mark 14:64 You have heard the blasphemy; how does it seem to you?” And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death. 
Mark 14:65 Some began to spit at Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him with their fists, and to say to Him, “Prophesy!” And the officers received Him with slaps in the face.
  • In response to Jesus’ words, the high priest tore his robe which served as a means of expressing great sorrow or horror.

    • This gesture was a formal judicial act and not simply an act of outrage.

    • This type of response was forbidden as a practice in legal proceedings except for blasphemy uttered before the court.

      • It is likely that the high priest responded in this way because of Jesus’ attestation of being the Messiah, the Son of God.

    • However, when we come to understand what blasphemy is, it is the slandering or diminishing of God’s name or character. Jesus did neither.

      • Not only is Jesus the response and provision by which God would accomplish His promises through, but He mentions that He will be seated to the right hand of Power by which God will seat Him.

    • However, the religious leaders at this point, are not interested in facts and truth, but simply being as close to "their truth” as possible.

      • Therefore, the high priest uses the tearing of his robe as a means of misdirection.

      • This is why in verse 63b, the high priest pushes further in saying, “What further need do we have of witnesses?”

      • In other words, what we have just heard is enough for me and should be for you!

    • What becomes apparent is when Caiaphas attempts to charge Jesus with Blasphemy, he himself becomes the blasphemer, yet Christ, the innocent one stands before the guilty to redeem humanity.

      • The full weight of injustice had come against the only innocent One to have ever walked the face of the earth.

      • And now He has been convicted of a crime which He did not and could never commit.

      • This becomes the very picture of the hearts and depravity of men and women.

      • We naturally seek to do what is right in our own eyes, even if it is at the expense of others.

      • Check out what Psalm 53:1-3 states.

Ps.53:1 The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God,”
They are corrupt, and have committed abominable injustice;
There is no one who does good.
Ps.53:2 God has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men
To see if there is anyone who understands,
Who seeks after God.
Ps.53:3 Every one of them has turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
There is no one who does good, not even one.
  • Our hearts, if not turned to truth, will lead to further internal and spiritual death and destruction.

    • Truth is not found within ourselves, rather it is found in a Sovereign Person and that is Christ alone who has made truth both verbally and visually known.

    • The reality is no one, apart from the Spirit’s illumination, desires to do good or seeks to be righteous but simply seeks to remain in darkness.

      • However, John 3:19-20 says the following from Jesus’ own lips.

John 3:19 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 
John 3:20 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
  • Spiritually depraved minds will only see what they want to see. Darkness will always cringe in the sight of light and, at whatever cost, will try to suppress it.

    • This is the situation that Jesus is faced with and it paints a picture of why the people of Israel were not able to recognize their own Messiah.

    • From this point, the high priest demands a unanimous guilty verdict which according to the Law was not legal because the verdict had to be decided by all the members of the council.

    • Being that only the high priest spoke to this false verdict, means he broke the Law – one of many!

    • Likewise, under Jewish Law, this decision could not be pronounced on the same day as the trial verdict but required at least a 24-hour waiting period.

      • Secondly, the reality of all 70/71 Jewish council members arguing in favor of guilt could not be done – they could only argue in favor of acquittal.

      • The basis of this is you are innocent until proven guilty.

      • And the reality is with all the witnesses before the court no testimony held true, even the ones that were “encouraged”.

    • It was from that point that the council all agreed that Jesus was to be condemned and deserving of death.

      • Jesus would now be sent before the whole council for a consultation for their verdict to be given to the Roman government (this marking the third Jewish Religious Trial).

    • At this point, Jesus is blindfolded, slapped around, beaten with fists, spat on, and is mocked by those whom have arrested Him. (v.65)

      • It was the blindfolding that led the guards to ask Jesus the sarcastic statement, “Prophecy!” in the sense that, “since you are the Messiah, you should know who it is that has hit you.”

      • However, Jesus does not retaliate. He does not respond in anger, but He takes the abuse.

      • He takes the full weight of the blows that are coming His way.

      • These slaps weren't a mere sign of dishonor, but these slaps were power blows to the face.

    • These are the blows that Jesus took for us! These are the blows that Jesus fully embraced knowing what would be before Him and that is the joy of the Father and the fruit of His provision.

      • That those whose eyes would be open to Him would come to know Him and be intimately known by Him.

      • Where humility was made with the blow of every hand, would come the honor and the exaltation of the Son of God seated at the right hand of God.

      • Where mocking would be spoken, soon would come mercy extended to those who were far from Him.

      • Where He was blindfolded and beaten, soon would come the beauty found in His brokenness.

    • Isaiah provides us with a beautiful yet graphic image of the torture which our Lord Jesus would encounter. Check out Isaiah 50:5-7.

Isaiah 50:5 The Lord God has opened My ear;
And I was not disobedient
Nor did I turn back.
Isaiah 50:6 I gave My back to those who strike Me,
And My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard;
I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting.
Isaiah 50:7 For the Lord God helps Me,
Therefore, I am not disgraced;
Therefore, I have set My face like flint,
And I know that I will not be ashamed.
  • Every blow was felt for you and me!

    • All the pain inflicted was embraced for you and me.

    • All the mockery was received for you and me.

    • He took it all upon Himself for you and me.

    • Hebrews 12:2 tells us this:

Hebrews 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
  • One question that may come from this is: What was the purpose of suffering in the plan of redemption? Could there have been another way and how does being in Christ help us to overcome?

    • As we close, let’s consider Peter’s very words, the one in whom more than likely saw for Himself the abuse in which Jesus bore for us all:

    • Turn with me to 1 Peter 2:21-24.

1 Peter 2:21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 
1 Peter 2:22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 
1 Peter 2:23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 
1 Peter 2:24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.
  • The fact that Jesus rose from the dead and overcame, and that we are “in Him”, we too overcome.

    • However, not in our own strength, but rather through the strength of Christ.

    • As Jesus depended upon the Father, we too are to depend upon Christ.

    • This is why the role of the Holy Spirit is so vitally important to the sanctification of believers because He provides us the Power and strength we need in Christ to overcome the power of sin in this world.

    • May we learn to endure well in this walk with the Lord because He has set the pattern/template by which we can see how to overcome and endure in this life.

      • That because He overcame, we too can overcome.

      • Rather than retreating from the suffering that life brings our way, we can embrace it with a new level of understanding because Christ has endured the greatest suffering known to man.

    • Next week, we will walk through Peter’s denial and his false sense of strength and confidence to see where and why he failed.

      • And we will juxtapose that with the victory which we see in Peter, standing in Christ, by the Power of the Spirit, in the book of Acts!

      • Let’s Pray.


  • For a survey of the illegalities of both the Jewish and Roman trial, see: Laurna L. Berg, “The Illegalities of Jesus’ Religious and Civil Trials.” Bibliotheca Sacra 161 (July-September 2004), pp.330-342.

  • Almost every reputable scholar agrees this second disciple was John himself. His family had ties to the priesthood through Salome and Elizabeth. His influence allowed both men into the courtyard.
     Kenneth O. Gangel, John, vol. 4, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 333.

  • James R. Edwards, The Gospel according to Mark, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos, 2002), 445–446.

  • The gesture of tearing one’s garments was indicative of sorrow or horror. In the case of this judicial proceeding, the high priest was indulging in a formal ceremonial act that was minutely prescribed by tradition [TH].Bratcher, Robert G., and Eugene A. Nida. A Translator’s Handbook on the Gospel of Mark. London: United Bible Societies, 1961.
    BECNT Stein, Robert H. Mark. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008.