The Stamp of Approval: Mark 14:53-65

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After Jesus was arrested, He was brought before the high priest and all the leading priests, elders, and religious teachers. This was a spiritual gathering of all the Jewish leaders, and the verdict of this case would go down in history as the Jewish religion officially rejecting Jesus.

However, in this trial, we discover some fascinating things. But before we dive into what we can discover, let’s read this passage together to uncover what happened. Our passage for this episode is from Mark’s gospel, chapter 14, and we will be reading from the New Century Version of the Bible. Starting in verse 53, Mark tells us that:

53 The people who arrested Jesus led him to the house of the high priest, where all the leading priests, the elders, and the teachers of the law were gathered. 54 Peter followed far behind and entered the courtyard of the high priest’s house. There he sat with the guards, warming himself by the fire.

55 The leading priests and the whole Jewish council tried to find something that Jesus had done wrong so they could kill him. But the council could find no proof of anything. 56 Many people came and told false things about him, but all said different things—none of them agreed.

57 Then some people stood up and lied about Jesus, saying, 58 “We heard this man say, ‘I will destroy this Temple that people made. And three days later, I will build another Temple not made by people.’” 59 But even the things these people said did not agree.

60 Then the high priest stood before them and asked Jesus, “Aren’t you going to answer? Don’t you have something to say about their charges against you?” 61 But Jesus said nothing; he did not answer.

The high priest asked Jesus another question: “Are you the Christ, the Son of the blessed God?”

62 Jesus answered, “I am. And in the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of God, the Powerful One, and coming on clouds in the sky.”

63 When the high priest heard this, he tore his clothes and said, “We don’t need any more witnesses! 64 You all heard him say these things against God. What do you think?”

They all said that Jesus was guilty and should die. 65 Some of the people there began to spit at Jesus. They blindfolded him and beat him with their fists and said, “Prove you are a prophet!” Then the guards led Jesus away and beat him.

When reading this passage, I am both amazed and a little humored that while the entire event is weighted heavily against Jesus, up until the point Jesus spoke, all the arguments against Jesus were crumbling. All of the false witnesses that had been brought in to condemn Jesus couldn’t get their testimony straight enough or clear enough for it to be valid. The whole trial was falling apart because all the accusations against Jesus were clearly being revealed as false.

However, the success of this entire trial hinges on finding something valid, and the outcome of this trial, even though it had already been determined that Jesus was to be found guilty, is within Jesus’ hands.

When Jesus stayed silent, no accusation against Him comes up as valid. However, what of the statement Jesus made. Is this statement worthy of death?

In Jewish law and customs, blasphemy was defined as speaking evil of God or of tying sin to God in some way. If a sinner claimed to be God, this would be defined as blasphemy because that attaches sin to God. In a similar way, claiming God acted in a sinful way would also be blasphemy.

So with Jesus’ response, do we see blasphemy?

In verse 62, Mark tells us that Jesus answered, “I am. And in the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of God, the Powerful One, and coming on clouds in the sky.

First Jesus acknowledges and answers the direct question about whether He is the Christ, God’s blessed Son. Then Jesus makes a prediction about His return that places Him next to God. In this response, nothing in itself speaks of blasphemy. It is logical that the Christ, God’s Son would be seated next to Him when He comes as King.

However, is it blasphemy to think that Jesus is God’s Son? Yes, but only if one condition is met. Only if it could be proved that Jesus sinned could the claim be made that Jesus spoke blasphemy, because connecting sin to God is blasphemy. If every accusation of sin in Jesus’ history is proved false, or if something happened that would wipe the slate clean and declare that Jesus lived a righteous life, then Jesus’ claim of being God’s Son would have to stand as valid.

So then, we have a question: Can we know if Jesus definitively sinned or definitively did not sin?

In my own mind, the answer is clearly a yes. It is impossible to know if there was any slipup at some point in Jesus’ history, simply because we were not there, and because no one shadowed Jesus from the time of His birth all the way through to His death. As I say this, I imagine that Satan and the angels were able to watch Jesus this closely, however, we don’t have any record available to us of every minute of Jesus’ life. Because of this, we are left looking for a clear stamp of approval from God regarding Jesus’ life. Can we find such an approval?

Yes. This approval is found in Jesus’ resurrection. If Jesus stayed in the grave, that would have meant that something in His life contained sin, and if Jesus had remained in the grave, His statement here in this trial would amount to blasphemy.

However, because Jesus was resurrected after He experienced death, we know that His claim in this passage is true, otherwise God wouldn’t have brought Jesus back to life. The trial assumed Jesus had sinned at some point in His past, and they knew He regularly broke their traditions. Breaking a man-made tradition is not sin. Sin is only breaking one of God’s laws or one of His declarations.

While this trial proved in the religious leaders’ minds that Jesus was guilty, they were blind to the idea that Jesus came to face death. Being lifted up on the cross to die was the goal of Jesus’ mission to earth. Jesus didn’t come to rally the people together to overthrow Rome and He didn’t come to prove Himself to anyone. Jesus came to show the world God’s love and to take the punishment for our sins onto Himself. In every aspect of Jesus’ mission, He succeeded.

Jesus’ death solidified His victory, and it created the way that we can be victorious with Jesus when we place our faith in Him. There was no way for humanity to escape sin once it had infected the world, but Jesus came to make another way. Through Jesus’ death, and the resurrection stamp-of-approval that God gave in response, we know that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the Life, and that He is worthy of our faith!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Always place God first in your life and place His will, His law, and His declarations ahead of any and every human tradition. In many cases, there will be no conflict, but if there is ever a disagreement between tradition and God’s truth, follow God’s truth ahead of tradition.

Also, always pray and study the Bible for yourself to grow your personal relationship with God. The best way to know His truth is by praying and studying His word, trusting that He will lead you into the truth He has for your life! Don’t let any person or single source other than the Bible dictate or filter truth to you. Let the Bible speak for itself.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or walk away from where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year of the Cross – Episode 35: During the trial Jesus faced, the religious leaders condemned Him for speaking blasphemy. Discover what blasphemy is and is not, and whether the religious leaders were correct in their verdict.

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