Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on Mark 14:53-15:15

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The Arrest and Trials - Mark 14:53-15:15

The arrest and trials of Jesus show the cruelty and determination of his enemies to put him to death. They also show his increasing aloneness as his disciples failed him. During this time his messiahship and divinity became more and more clear.

Sanhedrin - Mark 14:54-55

Jesus was put through two trials. The first was before the Jewish council, the Sanhedrin. Sanhedrin is the transliteration of the Greek word for council. The Sanhedrin was the highest judicial body in Judaism. (Many cities had their own councils, but only the Sanhedrin of Jerusalem had authority over Judaism in other communities as well as their own.) The night time meeting was highly irregular. Similarly, it was very unusual to hold a session of the court at the residence of the high priest instead of in the temple courts. The speed with which the leadership wanted to handle this matter led to cutting corners and secrecy. One possible explanation of the irregularities is that this was not a meeting of the whole Sanhedrin (see note at 15:1), but only a fact gathering interrogation by some of the members. Of course if that were the case the judgment of vv. 64, 65 were premature. Even more irregular was the fact that they were actively seeking testimony against Jesus to support the guilty verdict they had already come to.

False testimony - Mark 14:58

This false testimony was either an intentional distortion or an accidental misunderstanding of Jesus' words in John 2:19.

Jesus was silent. - Mark 14:60-61

The high priest was so frustrated by the contradictory false testimony that he took over the interrogation himself. Jesus was silent in fulfillment of Isa. 53:7.

Are you the Christ? - Mark 14:61-62

The high priest asked a two part question. First he asked, Are you the Christ? Mark began his gospel with this title (1:1) and Peter confessed that Jesus was the Christ (the Messiah) at the climax of the first half of the gospel (8:29). Throughout the gospel Jesus avoided calling himself the Christ and told others not to do it either because such an announcement would stir up expectations that would limit his opportunities to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom. Now the hour of his crucifixion was fast approaching and that was no longer an issue. Jesus said I am. In the second part of his question the high priest asked if he was The Son of the Blessed. The Blessed One was a title that was frequently used by the rabbis as a substitute for the name of God. Son of the Blessed would mean Son of God. Interpreters debate whether the high priest intended Son of the Blessed to refer to a divine Son of God, or was only using it as a synonym for Christ. In either case Jesus quickly quoted Dan. 7:13 and Ps. 110:2 applying the title Son of Man to himself and claiming that in the future they would see him ruling the universe at God's right hand.

Blasphemy - Mark 14:63-64

The high priest and the rest of the Sanhedrin understood Jesus' words as blasphemy and condemned him for it. According to Lev.24:13-16 blasphemy was to be punished by execution. The high priest tore his clothes as a sign of his grief at Jesus' words. (See 2 Kgs 19:1.)

Peter denies Christ. - Mark 14:66-71

While Jesus was being tried, condemned, and beaten inside the high priest's residence, Peter was being tried in a different way outside in the courtyard. How Peter gained access to the court of the high priest is debated. According to John 18:15-18 an unnamed disciple knew the high priest and won access for himself and for Peter. Most likely John was that disciple. John gained access because of his personal relationship with the high priest. (Clearly this destroys the myth that all of Jesus' followers were lower class citizens with no connections to the Jewish aristocracy.) Peter failed under the questioning of a servant girl. He denied that he knew Jesus and put himself under curses. His accent identified him as a Galilean. (See Matt. 26:69.) See WCF 5.5; WLC 78.

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