The Gospel of Mark: a commentary & meditation 
"They all condemned him as deserving death"

Gospel reading: Mark 14:53-72
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. 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 garments, 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.
66 And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the maids of the high priest came; 67 and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him, and said, "You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus." 68 But he denied it, saying, "I neither know nor understand what you mean." And he went out into the gateway. 69 And the maid saw him, and began again to say to the bystanders, "This man is one of them." 70 But again he denied it. And after a little while again the bystanders said to Peter, "Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean." 71 But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, "I do not know this man of whom you speak."72 And im mediately the cock crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, "Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me  three times." And he broke down and wept.
Meditation: How can faith be sustained in adversity? Peter was one of the two disciples who had the courage to follow Jesus in his passion.  John was with Jesus when he hung upon the cross at Golgatha.  Peter's courage, however, gave way to fear, fear for his own life.  Peter was overconfident in his own strength and now he must pay the price for his own disloyalty and denial of the Lord Jesus. Peter, after all, had been warned by his Master that temptation would come and he would fail the test. Mark records that Peter "broke down and wept" when he remembered Jesus' prediction that he would deny his Master. Unlike Judas who killed himself because his shame was devoid of any hope for forgiveness and restoration, Peter's grief was filled with sorrow for offending his Lord. When you meet failure and temptation, do you give in to despair and self-pity or do you turn to Jesus for the grace of restoration and beginning anew?

Jesus was cross-examined by the high priest and the Sanhedrin,the supreme court of the Jews. The high priest by law was required to wait until morning before he could call the Sanhedrin to try Jesus. In their eagerness to eliminate Jesus they did not hesitate to break their own rules for a fair trial and they used false witnesses.  Jesus' captors also used mockery and physical intimidation to trip up his testimony.  They hoped he would say something they could use as evidence of criminal action. When they pressed Jesus for his claim to be the Christ (or Messiah in Hebrew) and the Son of God, he did not deny it but stated simply, "I am". They understood the claim to be the Son of God an insult to God's majesty and therefore blasphemy, which was punishable by death.  Jesus bore ill-treatment, mockery, and the charge of blasphemy with peace and confidence.  In faith he knew beyond a doubt that what men would try to do to him could not thwart the purposes of God.  The cross would lead to ultimate triumph over sin and death and God's kingdom would prevail over the forces of evil and Satan.  Is your faith and hope securely anchored in Christ's victory on the cross?

"Lord Jesus, you willingly suffered and died for our sake and for our salvation.  You took upon yourself the burden of our guilt and the punishment due to our sins.  Strengthen my faith and help me in my trials that I may never deny you or forsake your ways."

Go to | Mark | Luke | Matthew | John | Parables of Jesus | Daily Reading & Meditation Index |
 (c) 2001 Don Schwager