Trial - Mark 14:53-65; 15:1-15

After He was arrested by temple guards Jesus was taken before the high priest. This was a religious trial – not a government-led trial. During Jesus’ life, as He gained attention from the people, He also gained attention from the religious leaders. Jesus did not speak well of the religious leaders for a variety of reasons. Jesus also challenged their man-made laws (Mark 7:11-13). And He made several statements during His ministry which troubled the religious leaders – statements that equated Jesus with the prophecies of the coming Messiah (John 4:24-25) and statements that equated Him with God (John 10:30). These were all reasons why the religious leaders wanted Jesus dead.

But, what is very intriguing in the story of Jesus’ trial is that while the religious leaders had numerous reasons to dislike Him, they still could not find evidence against Jesus that warranted the death penalty (14:55). So the religious leaders found some people to lie—to give false testimony—against Jesus. But they couldn’t even get their lies straight! (14:56-59). After this fiasco of conflicting testimony, the high priest asked Jesus to give a defense (14:60). This, of course, was silly. No clear charges had been brought against Him, yet they wanted Him to defend Himself. Jesus remained silent (14:61a).

Infuriated, the high priest asked Jesus a question, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” (14:61b) The Jews expected a human messiah – not a fully human and fully divine Messiah. They viewed the coming messiah as a son of God – but only human. Jesus answered “I am” (14:62a). This statement alone would not have sent the religious leaders into a murderous frenzy. But, Jesus, knowing that the religious leaders needed to know the truth, revealed more: “and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven” (v. 14:62b). By saying this, Jesus declared that not only was He the human messiah they had waited for – but He was also God!

This was blasphemy! At least that is what the religious leaders thought (14:63-64). After mocking and beating Jesus, possibly all night long, the religious leaders had to devise a plan (14:64-65; 15: 1). The religious leaders had no power to judge or condemn people. Instead, if someone committed a religious offense worthy of death, the religious leaders would hold a trial and if death were sought they would petition the government to agree with them and carry out the sentence.

They took Jesus to Pilate, the government official. Pilate asked Jesus if He were the king of the Jews. Jesus said, “Yes.” But Jesus clarified, He was not a king that threatened King Caesar. Jesus was a different type of king (John 18:36). This satisfied Pilate and he saw no reason to condemn Jesus to death (v. 13; John 18:38). In an effort to set Jesus free without looking weak, Pilate tried a sneaky move. At this time of year the Roman government would set one prisoner free. Pilate figured that if he gave the Jews a choice they would choose to set free the innocent Jesus rather than the notorious prisoner Barabbas (vs. 6-14). He was wrong.

Pilate set Barabbas free and handed Jesus over to be crucified. Horrible, but necessary for our salvation.

Thoughts to Ponder
Throughout all of this Jesus stood firm. He knew who He was and why He came. While on trial He was resolute. He came to earth for this. Jesus came to live among His creation so that, when the time was right, He would suffer great injustice and be crucified. He went through this for those who have gone before us, for us, and for many others who have yet to believe.