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At the High Priest's House

Jesus taken to the high priest

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. (Mark 14:53-56 NIV)

After Jesus faced down the temptation to turn back from the cross in Gethsemane, He was arrested and taken to the house of the High Priest, Caiaphas. There He faced a trial by the Jewish ruling council - the Sanhedrin. One of the false accusations made against Jesus was that He was going to destroy the Temple.

“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. (Mark 14:58-59 NIV)

Caiaphas challenged Jesus to respond to the false accusations, but Jesus "remained silent and gave no answer." (Mark 14:61a NIV) I think it would be instinctive for me to defend myself. I believe I would tell them the temple I was referring to in that statement was the temple of my body, and it was about rising from the dead. I can feel the "I said no such thing" rising in my heart at the High Priest's challenge. But Jesus knew something that was counter intuitive. He knew all this was part of the grand plan of the redemption of all of us. He did not need to answer false accusations, because He knew the final victory. He was going to lay down His life for the sins of the world, and no defense would affect that outcome. He was secure in His Father's will and resolved in His great love for you and me.

Then came the zinger.

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

“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.” (Mark 14:61b-62 NIV)

Finally, a straight up answer to a straight up question. Are you the Son of God? Yes, I am! At the trial at the High Priest's house, Jesus claimed His place as Israel's Messiah - the promised "anointed One" who would re-establish the Kingdom of David and rule Israel forever. At least, that's part of what the Hebrew Scriptures pointed to. We know now, post resurrection, that Jesus death and resurrection were about much more than saving Israel. His life was about redeeming all creation. His death was an atonement for whosoever will believe in Him and receive eternal life. (John 3:16)

From here it gets ugly. Here the passion of the love of Jesus begins to be poured out in receiving the blows of evil against our sin and all that is good.

The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” They all condemned Him as worthy of death. 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. (Mark 14:63-65 NIV)

It was blasphemy for a mere man to claim to be Messiah, the Son of God. And blasphemy deserved death. This was the self-incriminating evidence they needed. They could lay aside false testimony about Jesus and put Him to death on the basis of His own testimony about Himself. They spit on Him. They blindfolded Him and taunted Him to prophesy as they punched Him out with their fists. Then the guards took Jesus and beat Him. The cruelty of evil is poured out on the One who is good. And they believed they were justified in condemning a blasphemer who dared to claim to be God.

It is a sad fact in human history that religious error can lead to cruelty in the name of God. There is anti-Semitism. There was the Inquisition. There were the Salem witch trials. And closer to home there is judgmentalism and scorn towards those who don't measure up to our moral system instead of the witness of love and acceptance. The scorn some Christians express toward LGBTQ persons or the homeless or persons on the other side of some political or theological divide is the same misplaced rage that led them to spit on Jesus and beat Him.

Their agreement with Judas had paid off. Their plan to do away with Jesus was working perfectly. Except for one thing: Jesus was who He claimed to be. His resurrection proved it. And so they took the Son of God to Pilate to have Him put to death. And He went willingly, because He was going to the Cross for a completely different purpose than their intention to be rid of Him. He was going there to die for them. And for me. And for you. What a Savior! The scorned One is now the exalted One. The crucified One now lives as King of kings and Lord of lords. And one day, He will return and establish the perfect Kingdom in reality for all of eternity.

In the meantime, His Kingdom lives in our hearts, "on earth, as it is in heaven." And we follow our King on His mission to redeem. May His passion become our passion. May our eyes see those around us through His. May His love fill our hearts and direct our steps, even to the point of laying down our lives for others in service and witness and love. So be it.


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