The Scripture.

Grace and peace to you Beloved. I am so looking forward to worshiping the Lord with you this morning.  And we are going to worship Him in His Word. Please take out your Bible.  Let’s read our passage for this morning, Mark 14:53-65. Read.

Mark 14:53. They led Jesus away to the high priest; and all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes gathered together.  54 Peter had followed Him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the officers and warming himself at the fire.  55 Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, and they were not finding any.  56 For many were giving false testimony against Him, but their testimony was not consistent.  57 Some stood up and began to give false testimony against Him, saying,  58 “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.'”  59 Not even in this respect was their testimony consistent.  60 The high priest stood up and came forward and questioned Jesus, saying, “Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?”  61 But He kept silent and did not answer. Again the high priest was questioning Him, and saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”  62 And Jesus said, “I am; and you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING WITH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.”  63 Tearing his clothes, the high priest said, “What further need do we have of witnesses?  64 “You have heard the blasphemy; how does it seem to you?” And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.  65 Some began to spit at Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him with their fists, and to say to Him, “Prophesy!” And the officers received Him with slaps in the face. (Mt.26:57-68, Lk.22:54-65, Jn.18:12-28)

Let’s pray and ask God to give us understanding into His word that we would be shaped into His holy image by it. Pray.

The context.

We left off last week with Judas one of Christ’s disciples betraying Jesus unto Christ’s death. Christ then was falsely arrested. Finally, the other eleven of Christ’s disciples were so afraid for their lives they all forsook Christ and fled. Christ was left alone now in the hands of His enemies. And their intention is to kill Christ Jesus. Christ now was taken to face His accusers. 

The overview.

Let me give us a little bit of an overview of this occasion by summarizing briefly this account as recorded in all four gospel accounts. I think this will help us understand what is going on here. And perhaps to answer any seeming contradictions between the accounts.

The types of trials.

Obviously Jesus is on trial. Christ has two general types of trials.

Church trial.

This one here is a trial before the Jews. This is a trial before the Sanhedrin. This is the highest of the Jewish courts. We could say that this is Christ’s ecclesiastical trial. His Church trial as it were. {Sanhedrin, full council – 70 men plus the high priest, like the 70 elders plus Moses. Num.11:16}

Actually, I hate even saying this. Christ Jesus on trial before the sacred courts of the church!  The professing people of God put Jesus their Savior Messiah on trial! This makes us cringe. Or weep. Or both. He came to His own and His own knew Him not. (Jn.1:10-13)

Oh beloved, I wonder if the same thing would be said if Christ came to many NT churches. He came to His own and His own knew Him not. Will the Son of Man find faith in the church when He returns? Or will it be like the days of Noah? Or the days of Lot in Sodom? (Lk.18:8, Lk.17:26-30)

Sadly I believe that if Christ were to appear today in the flesh to a great many churches that their church leaders would likewise put Christ on trial and accuse Him of being too narrow, too exclusive, too against sin, too in favor of holiness. They certainly would condemn Christ for teaching that the wages of sin is death and the only hope is His atoning blood. (Rom.6:23, Heb.9:22, I Pt.1:18)

Beloved, many churches have a name that they are alive in Christ, but Christ has left them. (Rev.3:1) They no longer speak of Christ crucified. They have become friends of the world. (James 4:1-10, 2 Cor.6:14-18, I Jn.2:15-20) They preach Man. They preach worldly things for worldly men, like these chief priests, elders, and scribes.  (2 Tim.4:3) They are synagogues of Satan as the Risen Christ says. (Rev.2:9, 3:9) Their condemnation is just.  (Rom.3:1-8)

There is nothing new under the sun beloved. The nature of man does not change and cannot change with time, or with education, or with anything else man can do. What we see here is the church does not change the nature or man. Church office does not change the nature of man. Word and sacraments by themselves do not change the nature of man. Oh beloved, the nature of man only changes by the grace of God making a sinner a new creature in Christ, being born again, being gifted with faith in Christ and repentance towards God by God the Holy Spirit. Are you born again by the Holy Spirit? Has God changed you into a new creature? Do you now love this One Christ?

Civil trial.

The second kind of trial Christ had was before the Gentile courts, before the Roman courts. This was Christ’s civil trial. The professing rejecters of the God of the Bible put Jesus Christ their Creator on trial!

The number of trials.

Also it is helpful to know that Jesus actually had three trials or three stages of a trial before each entity – church and state.

First Jesus was taken at night to stand before Annas the former high priest. We might call this a preliminary hearing. We find this in John 18:12-14 and verses 19-23. Next, Jesus then meets with the Sanhedrin, also beginning at night. That is what we have before us in Mark 14:53. Then, finally Christ meets with the Sanhedrin around daybreak for the conclusion of His trial. We find this in Mark 15:1.

In His civil trials Christ met with Pilate first, then before Herod (Lk.23:6-12), and then back to Pilate.

The judgment.

What we have before us beloved is Man puts God in the Flesh on trial. And Man will find God wanting, lacking!  The sinner puts the Sinless One on trial and rules that Christ is the chief of sinners and that Christ must die. (Dan.5:27)

This is the outcome of believing the devil’s lie as we first find it in Genesis 3:1-8. Satan told Eve, God has lied to you, you will surely not die, but you will be happy if you disobey God and become your own god.

From that day to this day, fallen man has judged that the God of the Bible is wrong and Fallen Man is right. (Isa.5:20, Ezek.18:23-30) And that God deserves to die. That is Man. All men. Jews, Gentiles, black, white, rich, poor, male, female, learned, unlearned. (Rom.3:9-18) Unconverted men in the church. And unconverted men out of the church.

Remember, the two trials.  Both the Jews and the Gentiles tried Christ and found Him worthy of death.  (Jn.1:10-11)

I will tell you beloved that I struggled working through this text. There were so many occasions that I responded in my heart like king David when Nathan told him the story about the man that stole another man’s ewe lamb whom he loved and he killed it and ate it. And David said that wicked man deserves death!  (2 Sam.12:1-19)

I felt like that. These men deserve death that they should condemn my holy Christ to death.  But beloved my ill-informed righteous anger turned to sorrow when I realized, like Nathan told David, thou art the man. I am the man that tried Christ and found Him lacking. God have mercy on us. Forgive me, the chief of sinners, that I would judge The Judge. (I Tim.1:15, Lk.18:13)

The church trial.

Today our purpose is to unpack this church trial. I should say, this mock church trial. We are looking at unconverted man in the church, in the visible household of faith but bereft of faith.

The definition.

Let me give a general definition of what a trial is and who the parties or participants are and for what purpose they have a trial.

A trial is the action of putting someone to the test, to examine the truth or falsity of a crime. The parties of a trial are the official judge or the recognized or authorized judge and the accused criminal. Let’s leave aside the idea of a jury for now.  The accused stands before the judge. Evidence will be given to prove or to disprove the charge.

If the judge determines the person guilty, he then administers whatever sentence the law requires for that particular law-breaking. In other words, capital crimes if proven require the death penalty. And non-capital crimes do not require the death penalty, but often restitution of some sort. If the judge determines that the person accused of law-breaking is not guilty, he shall declare that he is innocent of the charge and set the person free.

This is occurring to holy Jesus, sinless, perfect Jesus. And this is occurring to holy Jesus by unholy men!

Oh beloved why did Jesus endure this?  It was the Father’s will. It is part of the purchase price of His Bride. For us. For our salvation. What love is this oh my soul!?

The judges.

V.53, 55. In our passage we have one man leading a council of judges.  The high priest will listen to the judgement of the other priests and elders and scribes. And then he will make his decision.

May I say something that may not be apparent. This council was composed of both Sadducees and Pharisees. The priests came from the Sadducee party. The scribes mainly came from the Pharisee party. Most often these two parties hated one another. They had great doctrinal differences with one another. And widely divergent practices as well.

Beloved, unconverted men that in so many ways appear so different and opposed to those that differ, in reality are the same kind of spiritual person. They are all dead in their sins and trespasses. And they will show their spiritual evil by joining hands with their enemies to kill their true enemy – the God of the Bible!  That is Man. (Rom.3:9-18)  

The high priest.

Let’s consider the high priest. I will read from John chapter eighteen.

John 18:12. So the Roman cohort and the commander and the officers of the Jews, arrested Jesus and bound Him,  13 and led Him to Annas first; for he was father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year.  14 Now Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was expedient for one man to die on behalf of the people. (Lk.3:2)

The worldliness.

Annas was the previous high priest before Caiaphas. He retains the title. (Acts 4:6) As we see he wields obvious clout and power. He was installed by the Romans then subsequently deposed by the Romans. And I believe the same thing occurred for his son in law Caiaphas, the Romans installed him and removed him.

At this time the scepter had departed from Judah (Gen.49:10). Just as the Scripture has said would occur when Messiah would come.  God is fulfilling His word. Christ will come to a subjugated people. He has come to set the captives free. Sadly, the slaves of Satan do not even know they are slaves. They think they are free. (Jn.8:33)

Oh beloved, Man is so fallen in his sin that he thinks slavery in sin is freedom and true freedom in Christ is slavery. If we are saved, God alone must do it for us. And He does. In Christ. Hallelujah!

At this time, the high priest’s office was made by the appointment of heathen Rome. And obviously they chose men to be favorable to the Roman occupation of Israel. In a way we can say that this religious office had become a religio-political office. Which means a political office.

Beloved whenever the state gets involved with the church the spiritual life of the church departs. Whenever the state rules the church the word of man evicts the Word of God. Friendship with the world is warfare with God. (James 4:1-10)

Listen to this quote by John Newton. In most countries the state becomes the idol of the church and the church becomes the creature of the state. Oh beloved, may we cease our lust for political power. It is spiritual death to a church. (I Sam.4:21)

After Jesus leaves Annas He goes to Caiaphas. (Mt.26:3, 57, Jn.11:49, Acts 4:6) We remember that it was Caiaphas that said this about Jesus:

John 11:45.  Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him.  46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them the things which Jesus had done.  47 Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs.  48 “If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”  49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all,  50 nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.”  51 Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation,  52 and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.  53 So from that day on they planned together to kill Him.

The apostasy.

Beloved, God’s word says that the high priest is a type of Christ. (Heb.7:11, Zech.3:1-8, Gen.14:18) He is God’s chosen Mediator between God and Man. He represents the people to God. He makes sacrifices for their sins. And he lives to make intercession for them. (Lev.16:1-34, Exod.31:10, 28:4) He is called to be utterly devoted to God, to holiness, and to love and to serve the people, to bring them to God, to wear their names upon his breast-piece, to have their names upon his heart.

The type has the Antitype Jesus Christ the true high priest on trial!

The earthly judge has the Judge of heaven and earth on trial!

How the gold has become dim. (Lamen.4:1)

The infidelity.

And more than that, the earthly high priest has predetermined to murder Christ even before Christ gets to trial. He knows that Jesus is innocent. Yet out of a lust for personal power and wealth and then political power for the Jewish leadership with Rome he plots to murder an innocent man.  Along with his fellow judges the priests, elders and scribes.

They care nothing for the 6th commandment or the 9th commandment, or God, or man! Unconverted man only cares for self and sin.

This constitutes the church leadership.  The religious leaders of God’s people, almost to a man were wicked unbelievers living for self, sin and this world. These were the religious guides of God’s people! Stunning. (read Heb. 3 and 4)

Again beloved, the church cannot convert you. Church office cannot convert you. You must be born again by the Holy Spirit. Are you born again? (Jn.3:1-8)

God required judges to judge righteously. (Lev.19:15, Dt.1:16, 16:18, Jn.7:24, Zech.8:16, Prov.17:15, Jer.22:3-5, Mic.6:8, Lev.19:15) To judge using the word of God as the standard for right and wrong. They are faithfulness to their commission. They are unrighteous judges. And this is key, under the guise of righteousness. Unconverted church people do not want to appear to be unconverted. So they disguise themselves with a cloak of religiousity. But God sees through their disguise. See Christ’s woes in Mt.23.

The witnesses.

V.55-58. These religious judges know that the Bible says that a grave matter has to be determined by two or three eye-witnesses. (Dt.19:15, 17:6, Heb.10:28, Mt.18:16, 2 Cor.13:1, I Tim.5:19)

Matthew 26:59. Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death.  60 They did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. But later on two came forward,  

They are trying to use the Bible to reject the Bible.  Oh beloved there is nothing new under the sun!

They sought false witnesses against Christ because they knew they could not find true witnesses against Christ. Because Christ never sinned. He is the spotless pure holy Lamb of God.

And even these wicked false witnesses cannot agree! (Num.35:30, Dt.17:6, 19:15)

Think how this offends God. Think how awful this is to Christ.  Beloved, God is truth personified. (Ps.119:160, 145:18) Christ is the way, the Truth, and the life. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. The Bible is the word of truth.  God loves the truth as it reflects His blessed holy nature.

God hates false witnesses. God hates lying lips. The ninth commandment, You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor! (Exod.20:16, Mk.10:19)

Lying is imitation of the father of lies, the devil. (Jn.8:44)  All liars will go to hell. Unless they find forgiveness in Christ. (Prov.6:16-19, 19:5, Exod.23:1-3, Rev.21:8)

They falsely accuse Christ. Beloved, prepare yourself to be lied against, slandered, abused, and perhaps even slaughtered for the namesake of Christ. The unconverted church people and leaders did it to the Lamb. They will do it to His lambs. (, Jn.15:18-27, Rom.8:36-37, Lk.6:26, Mt.5:11)

V.58-60. Then the high priest treats the lie as if it were a true crime.  Christ was talking about the resurrection of His body after His death. (Jn.2:19-21)

Look at the wickedness of this. Almost the insanity of this. Natural man is not in his right mind. Natural man is prejudiced against God. These judges are trying to put the most wicked meaning to Christ’s statements. In the church! Again I say, in the church! The leaders of the church!

These men know that the Bible teaches that God is holy and hates sin and that He knows all things and He is everywhere present. Yet they look for false witnesses to murder Christ but then claim it was a lawful death because Jesus is a blasphemer.

And God requires blasphemers to be put to death! Stoning actually. (Lev.23:13-16) But even in their wickedness, God governs them that His word concerning the crucifixion of Christ would come to pass. Just as Christ has said. (Mk.10:33) The church leaders lust for the most vile and painful death for Christ. God will permit it. He has ordained it. They are guilty. (Acts 2:23)

The Christ.

V.60-62. Christ is silent before His accusers. Like a Lamb to the slaughter. (Isa.2:1-4, Mt.12:18-21, Isa.53:7, 57:15, Zech.9:9, Mt.5:7-9)

He does not answer moral fools according to their wicked folly. Why answer their lying questions? Why play their wicked charade? There is no justice for Christ from Man. The verdict was decided before Christ was falsely arrested.

But then something happens, the high priest puts Christ under an oath to God. Give God the glory. Tell the truth before God. Before God are you the Christ the Son of God.

Now we see Truth personified. Christ cannot deny Himself. When asked to testify of the truth, He does. (Jn.4:25-26, Mt.21:15-16, Mt.8:4, 9:30, 16:20)

Christ says, I AM. I am the Messiah of Israel. I am the King of the Jews, the king of kings and the Lord of Lords. And soon, I will be at the right hand of God My Father, sitting in My glory! (Dan.7:13, Ps.110:1)

The response.

They feign grief for God. (Gen.37:29, 2 Kg.18:37, Judges 14:19)

And then they let loose their dogs on Christ. They spit in His face. They slapped Him. Punched Him. Mocked and abused Him. (Num.12:14, Dt.25:9, Job 30:10, Isa.50:6)

Oh beloved, this is not a trial. This is butchery. This is Man. This is unconverted man. This is unconverted Man in the church. This is Man’s “justice” to God.

What is interesting but very sad is this, some of these men will live long enough to see the Romans destroy their temple.  All of these men will live long enough to die and to face this One as their Judge.

The conclusion.

Oh beloved, men that do not know the law of God do not know the gospel of God. Men that do not love the law of God do not love the Christ of God.

This is written for our instruction. (Rom.15:4, I Cor.10:11) This is written for the household of faith. (Rom.11:17-24, Heb.3:12)  Do we love His law? Are we trying to break His law but appear to keep His law? Are we Christian play-actors?  Do we love Christ in Spirit and in truth?

Do we judge The Judge? Or have we bowed the knee to Him?

Beloved, someday soon everyone us will appear before Jesus Christ as our Judge. Our thoughts, words, and deeds will be laid bare before Him. (Acts 10:42, Phil.2:10-11, Mt.12:36-37)

Are you ready to meet The Judge and give an account to Him?  (2 Cor.5:10, Rom.14:10-12,Eccles.12:13-14, Rom.2:6-16, Rev.1:7, I Thess.4:16, 2 Tim.4:1)

Oh beloved, believe in Him and all will be well on that great and terrible day. (Jn.3:18, 5:24, Rom.5:1-11, Rom.8:1)


Study Questions.

  1. Read all four accounts of Christ’s trial before Caiaphas. Describe some of the similarities and some of the differences with the accounts? (Mt.26:57-68, Mk.14:53-75, Lk.22:54-65, Jn.18:12-28)
  1. What is the Sanhedrin or the Council? Who are the members? Jews? Gentiles? In the household of God? Outside the visible church? What is their view of Christ Jesus? What lessons do you learn by this? (Mk.14:55-61, Num.11:16, Lk.26:66, Mt.27:1-2, Jn.18:29-32, Acts 5:21, 9:1, 22:5, Mt.12:14, Mk.3:6, Jn.11:53)
  1. Is much of the modern church spiritually healthy and holy? What are some potential reasons why if Christ were to come in the flesh to churches in our day that the leaders and the people might put Christ on trial? What lessons do we learn by this? (Mt.24:12, 2 Tim.3:1-9, Jn.1:10-13, Lk.18:8, Lk.17:26-30, Rom.6:23, Heb.9:22, I Pt.1:18, Rev.3:1, James 4:1-10, 2 Cor.6:14-18, I Jn.2:15-20, 2 Tim.4:3, Rom.3:1-8)
  1. What does God’s word say about the earthly high priests? Who are they? What do they do? In what ways do they typify Christ? What lessons do we learn by the earthly high priest wanting to murder the True High Priest?  (Ps.110:4, Heb.5:6, 6:20, 7:11-27, Zech.3:1-8, 6:13, Gen.14:18, Lev.16:1-34, Exod.31:10, 28:4, Lam.4:1)
  1. God is holy and just and judges righteously. He requires judges to judge righteously. What is the standard for righteousness? How did these earthly judges judge unrighteously? What are some reasons why these judges judged unrighteously? What will be done to unrighteous judges? (Lev.19:15, Dt.1:16, 16:18, Jn.7:24, Zech.8:16, Prov.17:15, Jer.22:3-5, Mic.6:8, Lev.19:15, Jn.11:45-53, Mt.23:1-39)
  1. Why does the Council seek multiple witnesses against Christ? Why do they seek ‘false’ witnesses? Why do they not seek true witnesses against Christ? What does this teach us about them? About Christ? What does the Bible say about false witnesses?  Why is this so offensive to God? (Mt.26:59-60, Dt.17:6, 19:15-21, 17:6, Num.35:30, Heb.10:28, Mt.18:16, 2 Cor.13:1, I Tim.5:19, Ps.119:160, 145:18, Exod.20:16, Mk.10:19, Jn.8:44, Prov.6:16-19, 19:5, Exod.23:1-3, Rev.21:8, Jn.15:18-27, Rom.8:36-37, Lk.6:26, Mt.5:11)
  1. Did Jesus say that He would destroy the stone temple and then raise the stone temple up again in three days? What was Christ referring to? What did Jesus say about the stone temple? (Mk.14:58-60, Jn.2:19-21, I Pt.2:4-5, Lk.21:5-38, Mt.24:1-2, Mt.21:33-46)
  1. The earthly high priest charged the heavenly High priest with blasphemy worthy of death. What lessons do we learn by this? What was the OT penalty for blasphemy? What was the OT penalty for murder? For bearing false witness? How is God governing even this for His own holy purposes? (Lev.23:13-16, Dt.19:15-21, Eph.2:11, Ps.22, Ps.69, Acts 2:22-24, Mk.10:33)
  1. What lessons do we learn by Christ’s silence before His accusers? (Mk.14:60-62, Isa.2:1-4, Mt.12:18-21, Isa.53:7, 57:15, Zech.9:9, Mt.5:7-9)
  1. What lessons do we learn by Christ’s affirmation that He is the Christ? Where is Christ right now? When will Christ return? How will Christ return? What will it look and sound like? (Jn.4:25-26, Mt.21:15-16, Mt.8:4, 9:30, 16:20, Dan.7:13, Ps.110:1, Acts 17:31, John 5:22-27, 1 Cor. 6:3; Jude 1:6, 2 Pet. 2:4, 2 Cor. 5:10, Eccl. 12:14, Rom. 2:16, Rom. 14:10-12, Mt.12:36-37)
  1. When is Judgment Day? What is Judgment Day? Who is the Judge? Who will be judged? Why does much of the church not speak about Judgment Day? What benefits are received by speaking about Judgment Day? (Acts 10:42, Phil.2:10-11, Mt.12:36-37, 2 Cor.5:10, Rom.14:10-12, Eccles.12:13-14, Rom.2:6-16, Rev.1:7, I Thess.4:16, 2 Tim.4:1, Mt.25:31-46, WCF 32-33)
  1. How can one be safe on Judgment Day? (Jn.3:16-18, 5:24, Rom.5:1-11, Rom.8:1)





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