Mark 14 v 53 & 55 - 65

The end is coming and now proceedings have started it will come very quickly. The Jewish religious leaders are desperate to see this done in as short a time as possible because of the crowds and the celebration of the major festival of Pentecost.

Some context: the powers of the body of religious leaders-the Sanhedrin-were limited because the Romans ruled Israel. The Sanhedrin had full power over religious matters and also had certain powers at a police court level. We have seen that they had their own force. But it had no power to inflict the death penalty, so that this meeting described by Mark was not in a position of authority to condemn Jesus to death, but to prepare a case so that He could be tried before the Roman governor, who was Pilate at this time.

The Sanhedrin consisted of seventy one members from the Sadducees, the Pharisees, the experts in law and respected men from communities called elders. The High Priest presided. Now we know that, in their haste to kill Jesus, the Sanhedrin broke its own laws: it was prohibited for there to be a formal meeting at night or during one of the great feasts. If the verdict was to be death then a night must elapse before it was carried out. It also must only meet at a place within the Temple precincts called the Hall of Hewn Stone. So, we can clearly see that the Sanhedrin not only broke one but several rules-it wasn't meeting in the only place it was allowed to formally meet; it was meeting at night; it was meeting during Passover and Jesus was crucified at noon the next day.

These men of God supposedly, who were well respected by the people happily broke their own laws and bribed false witnesses to fund a case against Jesus. Ultimately, the High Priest stepped in and asked Jesus a question which he was forbidden to ask as nobody was permitted to ask the one on trial a question which could lead to His incrimination. Even the High Priest, a man with such great spiritual ancestry, going back to Aaron, was prepared to trample on the Law!

In the midst of this travesty of a trial, we again can see the courage of Jesus as He knew in answering the High Priest in the way He did, He was going to die. But we also see His confidence. He knew that the cross was to be a small thing on the way to glory, but we still must ask ourselves why the greatest human being who has ever lived should be treated in such a way! What had He ever done to justify such a cruel death?

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