Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on Mark 14:66-15:15

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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.

Peter remembered. - Mark 14:72

When the rooster crowed, Peter remembered that a few hours earlier Jesus had predicted his denial and he had foolishly boasted of his faithfulness (14:30, 31). (See Luke 22:61 which notes that Jesus caught Peter's eye at that critical moment. Perhaps Jesus glanced out through an open doorway or window into the courtyard at just that moment and their eyes met.) The flow of thought in this chapter makes it likely that Mark wanted his readers to see a connection between the failure of Peter and the other disciples to watch and pray (14:37-41) and their failure to remain faithful. The failures of Peter, Judas, and the rest of the disciples were reminders to the Roman Christians that no one was immune to grievous sin.

The Sanhedrin handed over Jesus. - Mark 15:1

The entire council (the Sanhedrin) reconvened early the next morning. Mark's word whole may indicate that the entire Sanhedrin was not involved in the late night session that had ended only a few hours earlier. The Sanhedrin handed over Jesus to Pilate and tried to convince him to execute Jesus. Pilate was the Roman governor of Judea from A.D. 26-36. He was known for his cruelty and his dislike for the Jews. Normally he ruled Judea from Caesarea, but appears to have been in Jerusalem for the feasts to control any potential rebellion among the crowds. The Sanhedrin had already condemned Jesus for blasphemy. Blasphemy was punishable by death, but the Sanhedrin did not actually have the authority to execute anyone. The Romans reserved that power for themselves.

Before Pilate - Mark 15:2-15

Mark's account of Jesus' trial before Pilate provides fewer details than those in the other gospels (Matt. 27:3-26 // Luke 23:1-25 // John 18:28-40). Those other accounts (especially John's) make it clear that Jesus did respond to some of Pilate's questions. The statements in Mark's account that Jesus was silent do not mean that he said nothing to Pilate, but merely that he refused to defend himself at certain points in the interrogation.

King of the Jews - Mark 15:2

The Sanhedrin had condemned Jesus for blasphemy. Pilate would never execute Jesus because of a religious charge like blasphemy. The Jewish leaders brought the civil charge of treason against him. (See Luke 23:2.) Pilate asked Jesus if he was usurping Caesar's authority, claiming to be the King, of the Jews. Mark stressed that Jesus was condemned as the Messianic King. He was condemned by the Jews because they thought he claimed to be the Messiah in a blasphemous way. He was condemned by the Romans as a king in opposition to Caesar. For Mark, Jesus was the Christ, the Messianic King, from the first verse of the gospel all the way through to the end.

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