“They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together. 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. 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. Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree. Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: ‘We heard him say, “I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.”’ Yet even then their testimony did not agree. 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?’ But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’”—Mark 14:53–61 (NIV)
“This trial is a sham!” Have you ever watched a TV show or movie involving a trial, and it’s clear the witnesses were paid off and the judge is corrupt? You feel for the person on trial because you know they have no chance.
This is exactly what’s happening in today’s passage. Jesus was arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council of elders. Think of them like the justices of the United States Supreme Court. As He was brought in, Peter followed at a distance to see what was happening, setting the stage for his denials of Jesus, which we’ll get into in a few days.
Jesus was brought so they could find cause to kill Him—guilty until proven innocent. But they couldn’t find any. And even though some stood up and provided false witness, their stories didn’t sync up. What was the best they could come up with? They testified He said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days’” (Matthew 26:61 NIV). Seriously, that’s all they could come up with?
So, Jesus, while being questioned, responded, “I have spoken openly to the world, . . . I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said” (John 18:19–21 NIV).
Seeing they were getting nowhere, the high priest then goes in for the kill: “Are you the Messiah?” Matthew 26:63 (NIV, emphasis added) adds that the high priest said, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” Tomorrow, we’ll break down Jesus’ response.
Friends, this trial was a mockery of justice. But we’re told “Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.” Why? First, He was fulfilling Isaiah 53:7 (NIV): “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.” Second, and most importantly, despite what it looked like as Pilate said, “I have power either to free you or to crucify you,” (John 19:10 NIV), Jesus was fully in control and had all power to send forth angels to wipe out those who were committing injustices against Him, but He didn’t. Why? Because Jesus said, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord" (John 10:18 NIV) and “everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms" (Luke 24:44 NIV).
Pause: What does Jesus’ silence and demeanor throughout this trial teach us about how we should respond when the world is hostile and accusatory against believers walking in truth?
Practice: Write this down and display it somewhere: God is in control! Think on that and remind yourself of it frequently.
Pray: Jesus, thank You that in all things You are in control and accomplishing Your good, pleasing, and perfect will. Amen.