Bible Study - Mark 14:53-65 Jesus before the Council


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Mark 14:53-65 : 

Mark 14:53-65 Jesus before the Council

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53 And they led Jesus to the high priest; and all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes were assembled. 54 And Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the guards, and warming himself at the fire. 55 Now the chief priests and the whole council sought testimony against Jesus to put him to death; but they found none. 56 For many bore false witness against him, and their witness did not agree. 57 And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying, 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” 59 Yet not even so did their testimony agree.

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60 And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” 61 But he was silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” 62 And Jesus said, “I am; and you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” 63 And the high priest tore his clothes, and said, “Why do we still need witnesses? 64 You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death. 65 And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” And the guards received him with blows.

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Before daybreak on “Good Friday,” Jesus was brought before the Roman appointed the High Priest, Caiaphas. He was also placed on trial before the Sanhedrin, the 70 elders, the Supreme Court if you will of religious law. The Sanhedrin had total control over religious matters but had no power to inflict the death penalty. Verse 55 tells us that the goal of the assembly was to put Jesus to death.

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Ultimately the High Priest charged Jesus with blasphemy which was punishable by death under Jewish law. The sentence of stoning was to be carried out by the community. Rabbinic lore tells us that the blasphemer was to be thrown from a cliff or other high place so that he would land on his chest. If the blasphemer survived the fall he was then pelted with small stones by everyone in the community until dead.

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In this way the blasphemer was literally excommunicated, thrown out of the community, and the weapons used to inflict the death sentence were the very stones of the nation of Israel. Since the right to inflict the death penalty had been removed from the Sanhedrin their function can be likened to our present day Grand Jury. They presented a civil charge on which the criminal could be tried before the Roman governor, blasphemy was a religious not a civil issue.

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Further the Sanhedrin violated its own laws. The official meeting place of the Sanhedrin was the Hall of Hewn Stone which was located not in the High Priest’s home but in the Temple. Decisions of the Sanhedrin were invalid unless arrived at in the Hall of Hewn Stone. The court could not meet at night or on any of the great feasts.

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Evidence was taken by examining witnesses separately and their testimony must agree in every detail. If the verdict was death then a night must elapse before it was carried out so that the court might have a chance to change its mind or show mercy to the criminal. Since the false witnesses couldn’t agree the High Priest stepped forward and broke still another law by asking Jesus a leading question designed to incriminate himself. When asked if he were the Messiah, Jesus shows courage when he said he was and thus opened the door for the charge of blasphemy to be brought against himself. Jesus also demonstrates his confidence in the Father when he knowingly allowed himself to be condemned to the cross.

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Immediately the assembly and guards began to abuse Jesus. Remember the Sanhedrin original goal was not to seek justice but to seek the death penalty. They had condemned Jesus of a crime punishable by death but they are unable to execute him on their own, thus they were forced to lie and to change the charge in order to convince Pilate, the Roman Governor, to kill Jesus for them.

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