• Download

God’s Righteous Son Condemned (Mark 14:53-15:15)

Chatswood Baptist Church https://www.chatswoodbaptist.com.au
Introduction – Miscarriage of Justice

In 1975 at the age of 19 Ricky Jackson was convicted of a murder that he didn’t commit. He was accused and subsequently found guilty of killing a man named Harold Franks outside a neighbourhood convenience store in Cleveland, Ohio. The entire case was based on the testimony of a 12-year-old boy named Eddie Vernon, who it turns out had made the evidence up after being pressured by the police at the time. Ricky Jackson spent 39 years in prison for a crime that he didn’t commit. He was eventually freed in 2017 after Eddie came forward and told the truth. This trial and incarceration were a complete miscarriage of justice. Ricky Jackson was innocent and should never have gone to jail. As we come to our passage for this morning and the three episodes that we will look at, we see an again injustice from start to finish. This time however the outcome of this trial has ramifications for the whole world and happens exactly as God has planned. God’s righteous Son is condemned.

Jesus is innocent 53-61a

 Our passage today follows on from Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, where all of the disciples have fled just as Jesus had said would happen. Even the naked one. These verses tell the story of Jesus on trial after having been arrested and taken to the high priest and indeed all the chief priests for what we can call the 1st religious trial.

Let’s read 53-56 together

53 They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together. 54 Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.

55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. 56 Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.

I don’t know about you, but for me the thing that straight away springs to my mind is what we would call ‘false arrest’. For you see the passage makes it abundantly clear that there was no valid reason to arrest Jesus. They had no evidence. They had been trying to find evidence against Jesus throughout Mark’s account of his ministry. But even as they arrested Jesus they hadn’t found any. That is not how justice is meant to work. But this wasn’t a just trial. No, it was rigged. They were trying to frame Jesus by bringing any charge against him that they thought might be plausible.

They were trying to manufacture evidence. We know that the whole ruling council of the religious leaders of Jerusalem wanted Jesus dead. That is made clear here in verse 55, they were looking for evidence whereby they could kill Jesus. This was not new though; they had been trying to do this throughout Jesus’ ministry. Indeed, Mark’s gospel shows this intention starting in Mark 3:6, 11:8, 14:1. They just wanted Jesus dead and out of the way. And this trial shows that they were prepared to go to almost any length to make this happen.

v56 tells us that it was false testimony and that the statements didn’t agree. The whole basis of a Jewish trial was that there must be two witnesses that agree. This is clearly stipulated in Deuteronomy 19:15. They were trying to frame Jesus. But everyone of their lies came to nothing. The religious leaders plan A was in tatters, it was a failure.

So, they moved to Plan B.

Let’s read verses 57-61a

57 Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’” 59 Yet even then their testimony did not agree.

60 Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 61 But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.

Once again, we read that this was false testimony, yet in this instance we get to hear what the testimony is. And while it is indeed false, as Jesus never said that he would destroy the temple, there is a sprinkling of truth in this lie. For Jesus said as recorded in John 2:19 “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” Yet he was talking about his body, some of those gathered tried to bend and stretch these words to produce a testimony against Jesus. However, the false testimony does not stand up, as again there wasn’t agreement between the so-called witnesses. Jesus is shown to be completely innocent from every accusation.

There was no need for Jesus to answer, as the testimony really didn’t even deserve an answer. Jesus though could have mounted a defence against these false accusations. Even a terrible lawyer would have been able to get his client freed after all of that false testimony. However, Jesus was more concerned with God’s plan than defending himself against their made-up allegations. So, he remained silent.

The Righteous One Condemned 61b- 65

Plan C. The High Priest desperately decides to take matters into his own hands. The false testimony has been a shambles. This is not going according to script and so now the High Priest decides to tackle Jesus head on.

Read with me 61b-65

Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”

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

63 The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. 64 “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”

They all condemned him as worthy of death. 

There are so many things wrong with this religious trial. The Sanhedrin has not acted with one ounce of righteousness, they had broken all of their own rules in an effort to get rid of Jesus.

They meet at night, they had already decided the result that Jesus should die, they garnished false witnesses. This was indeed a kangaroo court. That is that the Sanhedrin ignored all of the things that rightly constitute a proper trial. The Sanhedrin ignored the law of God. They ignored their own rules and decided to put an innocent man to death no matter what.

Jesus is now asked directly if he is the Messiah. Now at this stage had Jesus remained silent, they would not have been able to condemn him. But here was the moment. God’s plan is perfectly enacted through Jesus. It was Jesus confession of being the Messiah that leads to them condemning him. In revealing exactly who he was at this time Jesus will be condemned by the religious leaders. Jesus the righteous one of God obeys the Father completely and God’s plan for His righteous Son. Jesus’ condemnation happens exactly as Jesus had said it would in Mark 10:33-34.

33 “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, 34 who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.”

The Sanhedrin had no way to condemn Jesus until Jesus decides that it is time. It is completely ironic that Righteous Lord Jesus is condemned by those who were supposed to be the righteous leaders of God’s people.

Jesus has been pronounced deserving of death by the religious leaders, however they do not have the power to kill him. Had they had this power they would have taken Jesus out and stoned him as is the case in Leviticus 24:13.

The final act in this first episode was the Sanhedrin, the supposedly righteous religious leaders of Jerusalem taking their anger out on a completely innocent man. We read

65 Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.

Before the guards beat him. The leaders of God’s chosen people beat Jesus. There were no righteous or innocent people in that room except Jesus.

As terrible as this trial is. We need to be careful not to say to ourselves that we are not like the religious leaders at times. They sinned, they lied, they didn’t put God first. They showed that they are not righteous. Do we feel the weight of this as well? When we read about the sin of the religious leaders, does that make us aware of our own failings? Have you ever testified falsely? I don’t mean in a court of law. I mean have you ever told a lie? Have you ever put your will above God’s will? We should indeed be critical of the injustice here, but it should also cause us to look at ourselves. It should remind us that we are not without sin. Jesus in contrast carried out his Fathers will perfectly.

Wanting to satisfy the crowd

The Innocent One Condemned to Death 15:1-15

So we come to Pilate, who doesn’t seem to have the same attitude towards Jesus as the religious leaders had. He didn’t hate Jesus; he didn’t necessarily want Jesus to be killed. Yet in the end, he was able to condemn an innocent man for the simple reason of keeping the peace.

So Pilate asks Jesus a couple of questions. Read with me

“Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”

But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.

Pilate starts out with some questions of his own. Jesus had been accused of three things according to Luke Gospel account.

Luke 23:2

And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king.”

And so, Pilate asks Jesus if he is the King of the Jews. Whether or not he was mocking Jesus, we don’t know. Jesus answers you have said so. Not an emphatic yes by any stretch, and perhaps this is partly because Jesus knew that they didn’t have any comprehension of what Jesus’ Kingship really meant.

Pilate was amazed as Jesus made no reply, as he again remained silent. Jesus’ silence spoke to his perfect righteousness. He was being fully obedient to God’s will. As Isaiah 53:7 states:

He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.

And this is just what happens. The righteous, innocent Lord Jesus remains silent and is indeed led as a lamb to the slaughter.

Final injustice – Salvation Illustration

We now come to the final injustice in this section. We see the innocent condemned to death and the guilty go free.

Verses 6-15

Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.

“Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, 10 knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.

12 “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.

13 “Crucify him!” they shouted.

14 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

Pilate is not innocent in any of this, yet in one sense he can see through the plans of the religious leaders. So, he tries to see if he can have Jesus freed. He knows that Jesus is innocent. Verses 9 & 14 both attest to this.

Pilate was a politician through and through. He did what was politically expedient. Whether it was right or wrong was not really what concerned him. He knew that Jesus was innocent. Yet, the death of a Jew to ensure that the people were satisfied and that there wasn’t a commotion was acceptable to Pilate. Pilate only righteousness was in his own sight.

The biggest injustice of all is the final insult from one perspective. There was Jesus who we have seen was completely innocent. Completely righteous. And then there was Barabbas. He was a rebel and a murderer. Barabbas had in all likelihood been involved in violent confrontations against the Romans, including murder.

The difference between Jesus and Barabbas could not have been starker.  One of these two was going to be released. Either the innocent righteous Son of God. Or a rebel murderer. And what happens. Jesus goes to be crucified in place of Barabbas. The guilty is literally set free and the innocent punished in his place.

How is this possible. It is possible because this is indeed God’s will. This is God’s plan. That His own dear perfect Son would die in the place of the guilty.

This plan is accomplished because Pilates only interest is in satisfying the crowd. In not causing a riot. Pilate is comfortable with letting the innocent die.

Peter Disowns Jesus

Mark sandwiches Peter in between the religious and civil trials of Jesus. Jesus had predicted that Peter would deny him, and Peter indeed does deny his Lord. This episode does show that Peter wanted to do the right thing. He made an effort. In fact, he in one sense really put himself in the lion’s den. There he was just literally meters away from his Lord. He hadn’t run away and hidden in a room somewhere like many of the other disciples. He really wanted to be with Jesus. He really wanted to know what was happening. He hadn’t abandoned his Lord completely. He did love Jesus, and yet when the rubber hit the road. When he was asked which side, he was on. Are you with Jesus? He said no. And not just once, but three times. Let’s read vs 66-71

66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.

“You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.

68 But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway.[a]

69 When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.”70 Again he denied it.

After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.”

71 He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”

 Peter’s denials actually get bigger and bigger. He digs himself a hole and proceeds to fall right into it. What starts off with deflection, ends with outright rejection of Jesus. Fear had triumphed in that moment. Peter has sinned and shown that he too is unrighteous. He who had been with Jesus every day for three years had just denied knowing him. What about you. Do you ever deny Jesus? It’s easy to do. It can be not speaking up for Jesus when someone around you is speaking badly about Christianity.

Thankfully this episode doesn’t stop at verse 71. Let’s read verse 72

72 Immediately the rooster crowed the second time.[b] Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice[c] you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

Peter realising what he had done. That he had sinned against Jesus by abandoning him and denying him now broke down and wept. Whereas the Sanhedrin were happy to beat Jesus and find him guilty, and Pilate seemed to have no trouble in sending Jesus to be crucified. Peter realised his sin, and he felt the shame and guilt of his sin.

Jesus is the only Righteous one

 Ricky Jackson was indeed an innocent man who spent 39 years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. Yet he wasn’t without sin. In prison Ricky fought with other prisoners and spent time in solitary confinement.

Jesus though was without sin. Everything that Jesus does shows his righteousness. The Gospels show us that Jesus is completely innocent, righteous and without sin. Jesus is indeed the perfect and obedient Holy Son of God.

In contrast the actions of everybody in these episodes proves their unrighteousness. Their sinful hearts. We see in living colour the scripture Romans 3:10 “There is no one righteous, not even one.” And this is why Jesus had to die. This is why the perfect righteous Son of God had to die for our sins. To take the punishment that we deserved to bring us to God.

We all sin and fall short of the glory of God. That is what the Bible says. Our sin separates us from God, and there is only one remedy for this. Only one was to be with God. And that is through faith in his Son. We can only be with God because Jesus is righteous and willingly died in our place. As

1 Peter 3:18 states

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.

Through faith in Jesus Christ, we can be counted as righteous.