He has been telling his disciples that the Son of Man must suffer many things (Mark 8:31-33, 9:30-31, 10:32-34). We see this unraveling as we continue to read through this chapter. We see the beginning of these events beginning to take place, mainly that Christ is delivered into the hands of the chief priests and scribes.
I. Treated like a Traitor
Jesus as he was telling the disciples that his betrayer is at hand (Mark 14:42) in steps Judas. We know what agreement he had made with the religious leaders (Mark 14:10-11). Yet Mark highlights again that Judas was one of the twelve. That this betrayal comes not from his supposed enemies, but from one who was close to him. Now the interesting aspect of this is that Judas’s name is only mentioned, by name, three times in the gospel of Mark (Jesus had a brother named Judas cf. Mark 6:3). Every time Judas’ name is mentioned you can find the word betrayer or betray within a few words. And here in this passage, we see the ominous use of his name again. Judas’s name is last mentioned in verse 43. However, throughout this passage, he plays an important part, but he is known as ‘the betrayer.’ Mark does not tell us what happened to Judas, as the other books of the Bible do (Matt 27:3-10; Acts 1:18-19). Judas plays one role in the gospel of Mark, the one who hands over Jesus to the chief priests. Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss. The stone-cold kiss of death. It was custom in these days that you would greet one another with a kiss (Rom 16:16; 2 Cor 13:12). It was a sign of respect and adoration. However, this was a secret sign that the betrayer had planned to show the religious leaders who to arrest. Now everybody knew who Jesus was, it is hard not to know who he was. Yet, this was a way for the handing Jesus over to the priests. Now before we see how Jesus was treated we need to see the strange paradox which appears in the passage. Judas is the one handing Jesus over, however, Paul in Ephesians 2:5 says, “And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Judas gave Jesus up for himself, to be able to have the money which was promised to him. however, we are told it is Jesus who gave himself up for us.
Judas had kissed the cheek of his Rabbi. Judas had fulfilled the first part of the prophecy that Jesus had told his disciples. That the “Son of man would be delivered over to the hands of men” or as chapter 10 explains “delivered over to the chief priests and scribes.” We could spend an enormous amount of time looking at the specifics of Christ’s prediction of his last days and his death and resurrection but for now, we will see how they treat him. Before we do we need to think back to Jesus’ earthly ministry. Jesus has had conflict follow him but never because of criminal behavior. He had a ministry predominantly of teaching, healing, and casting out unclean spirits. Jesus even gives the example from Chapters 11-12, when Jesus was teaching in the temple (Mark 14:49). However, they have no response to his teaching, but it left them speechless (Mark 14:38-40). He answered all their questions but could not answer his. However, we are told some very interesting facts in this passage. 1) night, 2) swords and clubs, 3) seize/capture and lead away under guard.
The first item we need to see is that this is all done in the darkness. As Jesus points out in verse 49 that day after day he taught in the temple. Yet, they come and arrest him in the darkness, while he is in a secluded garden. We know why this is the case because the religious leaders were fearful of the crowds would cause an uproar (Mark 14:2). They sought to arrest him by stealth and that is exactly what they did.
b. Swords and clubs
The second is that they come to him with swords and clubs. They come with an army. Now we need to note that many people, even some of his disciples thought he had come to overthrow the Romans like Jehu or Judah Maccabee. It is true that some of the perceptions surrounding Jesus’ ministry. When the council looks at this matter in Acts Jesus is compared to Theudas and Judas (another one) who had a large following, but after they died so did their followings (Acts 5:35-37). They assumed Jesus and his disciples would put up a fight, and maybe rightly so. Peter cuts off the servant of the high priest’s ear (John 18:10). Peter has a sword of his own.
An important lesson from this is how you perceive Jesus is how you will approach Jesus.
They came ready for a fight, again we must ask why. Jesus explains they treat him like a highway bandit. Like the men who rob the man walking from Jerusalem to Jericho in the story of the Good Samaritan. Like Barabbas who will be set free in exchange for Jesus. Yet another paradox. Barabbas, who is a robber, is extricated and made a free man. Yet, Jesus who is innocent is treated like a robber or threat.
c. Seized and captured
We might understand their actions of caution from wrong perceptions of Jesus’ ministry. However, we have no reason to agree with them. As you read through all the gospels you fail to see how many people concluded that Jesus was going to overthrow the government. His kingdom was about repentance (Mark 1:14-15). His ministry was centered on care and compassion (Mark 6:34, 8:2). His message was one of forgiveness (Mark 2:1-12). His disciples were nobodies. Yet, the leaders thought it would be best to bind him. They seized him like the Philistines seized Samson (Judges 16:21). Jesus was seized and captured under guard.
II. Tried in a corrupt courtroom
Jesus is arrested and then he is taken to court straight away, standing before the men who are accusing him. Now we do not have a perfect system of law, or maybe it should be said even if you had a perfect system of law it would not be perfectly upheld. For example, no judge is all-knowing, if you knew all the pieces of information then you would be able to give a just ruling. So human judgment of limited because we are limited with the evidence that can be provided. Secondly, our judicial system has human components one of the greatest weaknesses is our sin. No matter the case it is a courtroom filled with sinners. However, the weakness of a judicial system is fundamentally wrong when you are not seeking justice but vengeance.
This is what we see in this mock trial, a fake courtroom made for reality TV seems to have more justice than this corrupt courtroom. We see that this corruption is laced in their questioning. “Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none” (Mark 14:55). They had the person they paid to deliver them into their hands. But they did not have anybody willing to testify against Jesus to put him to death.
When they did find people, their testimonies did not agree. So that means that one or both would be lying. Now I think there are basic principles you can apply across cultures; however, it might be a stretch to apply the whole judicial system from one culture to another. For example, the sixth amendment the right to counsel is a terrific article in the US constitution. However, if we were to judge what happened to Jesus, we might say he had no right to counsel. However, I think it is fair to apply the laws of that culture to itself, to see how it compares. In this instance, Deuteronomy 19:15-21 would be an appropriate place to start:
“A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established. If a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing, then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days. The judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. And the rest shall hear and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you. Your eye shall not pity. It shall be life for life, eye for an eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” (Deuteronomy 19:15–21).
Without unpacking this passage in great detail, we can summarize a fair and just trial as including a plurality of witnesses, who appear before the Lord, priests, and judges. The judges are in inquire diligently. We should also notice that those bearing false witness will have the punishment of what they are accusing the person of (this is most likely why no one would come forward to offer evidence for the death penalty). This hearing should be done before the Lord and there for all members should hear carefully and fearfully. In the end, justice is to be found. Now in this case of Jesus, one would be able to call a mistrial. No evidence, false witnesses, biased judges, and many more errors. Even one commentator who compares this trial to the Mishnah, which is one of the clearest documents of the Jewish leaders’ teachings stated, “Nearly every detail of Jesus’ trial violates the rules for capital cases prescribed in the Mishnah.”
III. Condemned to execution
When you get to make your own rules and apply them you can force your outcomes. If you have ever played a game with someone who has made up the rules you might have noticed how quickly they change the rules to make sure they win. In this corrupt courtroom, the ones leading the trial want a certain outcome to occur. One they had spent years planning and hoping for (Mark 3:6, 11:18, 14:1-2). After Jesus stands silent, as to fulfill Isaiah 53:7. But finally the High Priest, Caiaphas, asks the question, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Although written as a question it should be more like a statement based on the Greek found in Mark. Interestingly, two full statements of Christological significance come from Caiaphas and the centurion who are both responsible for Jesus’ death. I did not include Peter’s confession because Mark only includes one aspect of this truth, Jesus is the Christ. However, the full confession as recorded in Matthews Gospel is, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Here, Caiaphas who John records prophesied because he was the High Priest (John 11:51).
Jesus finally responds, after being silent. Jesus answered their question saying, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 14:62). Jesus responds by explaining that he is the fulfillment of the scriptures, as we have seen throughout this study. Jesus quotes Daniel 7:13, and Psalm 110:1 (which had stumped the Scribes in the temple cf. Mark 12:35-37). Jesus affirms the statement of Caiaphas. As we see with their response, they immediately tear their clothes. When anyone says Jesus never claimed to be God, we need to look to passages like this, because those who understood what Jesus said would disagree (John 10:12). Now quickly, did Jesus commit blasphemy? No, blasphemy is that of slander or false witness. Or to put it another way, blasphemy is lying about being God or making God not what he says he is (calling him a liar). One lifts something that is normal or secular and elevates it to something that it is not. Or the other way is that we do not honor God as God and bring something holy or sacred to the secular. However, Jesus is not lying. Jesus’ statement is true. His is the Christ and he is the Son of the blessed one, God. It is only wrong to claim to be God if you are not God. However, Jesus is God (Col 2:9, 1:15-16). However, as we have noted many times the priests and the scribes are not interested in truth or right or wrong, even in this court case justice. They have heard what they think they need to hear so with that they respond with the sentence of death. Again, the paradox appears in this passage. They are the ones who are committing blasphemy, they do not honor Jesus as God, but treat him with contempt, and mock him.
Throughout this passage we see the injustice done toward Jesus. The passage is filled with paradoxes. As they arrest Jesus like a highway bandit and treat him like a criminal, they will trade him for someone who is a robber. While also being robbers themselves (Mark 11:17). They seek to apply the law to Jesus to have him condemned under the law, but it is Christ who came to fulfill the law (Matt 5:17; Rom 10:17). As they try to convict Jesus of breaking the law, they are the ones breaking the law. And lastly, they blame Christ for blasphemy but in the end, they are the ones committing blasphemy. But through all of this, we are reminded that this was done to fulfill the scriptures, we are told once specifically at the end of verse 49. Maybe one day it would be great to look at the fulfillment of Scriptures in the earthly ministry of Christ, but we do not have time. Let us see three, quickly.
We see this fulfills Christ’s words in Mark 10, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.” (Mark 10:33–34).
The prophet’s words of Isaiah are fulfilled, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers are silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment, he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?” (Isaiah 53:7–8)
But all of this is part of God’s plan of salvation as Peter, the one watching from the courtyard would explain, “Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:22–23).