Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree.
And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying,
“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.’”
Yet even about this their testimony did not agree. 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?”
But he remained silent and made no answer.
Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”
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.”
And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?”
And they all condemned him as deserving death. (Mark 14:55-64)
Easter is a high-water mark on the church calendar. Like with Christmas, there is a greater community awareness of the work and person of Jesus—even if it is a bit crowded with the noise of chocolate bunnies and egg hunting. And I for one, thank God for chocolate bunnies.
The text above, taken from Mark 14, shows the trial of Jesus. As you read it, notice the absolute failure of the trial—again and again, the council tries to find a basis for condemning Jesus. But they find nothing.
Jewish law required agreement of two or more witnesses to find a person deserving of the death penalty. Yet no one’s testimony agreed. This makes it very clear that Jesus was innocent. Jesus should have been let go. In desperation, the High Priest turns to Jesus and asks him, ‘Are you the Christ?’ Since he can find no testimony to accuse him, he will try to get Jesus to incriminate himself.
Jesus fully understands this. He is not obligated to answer. Like in the United States Justice System, He could ‘plead the 5th’ and choose not to answer the high priest at all. Their case has collapsed. They are going to have to let him go. Fully within his own control, Jesus dictates the outcome with His own answer—That He is the Christ, the Divine Son of Man Foretold in Daniel 7:13-14.
Not an Accident
For that answer, they condemn Him. However, Jesus is not there because He is guilty. He is there precisely because He is the innocent. He has come to suffer and die at the hands of sinful men, as a sacrifice for sinners. To confirm this is no accident, he foretold the disciples repeatedly (Mark 8:31-33, 9:30-32, 10:32-34).
The reason why this is so important for Easter is because of the dual message of the book of Mark. Jesus is the Divine Son of God, and He has been sent to earth intentionally to suffer. What the chief priests could not do in their craftiness—condemn Jesus—He will do freely of His own choosing. Jesus was not guilty of anything other than telling the truth—for He simply confirmed who He was, the son of God.
Jesus is the Divine Son of God. He willingly suffered an unjust punishment—so those who believe could be made just. To confirm His innocence, He was vindicated in the Resurrection—Jesus was raised because the sentence of death was no longer over Him. He paid the penalty in full.
Following in His Steps
Today being identified as a Christian can be professionally detrimental, and in certain places of the world, a death sentence. As we celebrate Easter this week, we can draw great courage from the faithfully truth-speaking Jesus. Those who follow Jesus will also suffer with Jesus (1 Peter 2:21). But we will also rise with Him.