There’s an old saying about excuses. OK, well maybe it isn’t all that old, but it’s a pretty good one, at least I think it is a good one. True it isn’t famous or anything… fine, you got me, but it is what I say about excuses:
When you’re looking for an excuse, one is as good as another.
That night, the Jewish authorities were looking for an excuse to kill Jesus, and they really weren’t all too choosy about their excuse as long as everyone could keep the story straight; after all this guy was pretty popular.
Parallel Texts: Matthew 26:57-68; Luke 22:54, 63-65; John 23:24
Jesus on trial before the full cast of Jewish authorities: Can you imagine anything more ridiculous? The Son of God actually on trial before a group of corrupt hypocrites cowering behind their fancy robes, their meaningless earthly positions, desperate to maintain the magnificent fiction of their own self-righteousness, and all this for what reason? So they can truthfully preserve a lie! So they can lawfully continue their corruption. So they can graciously continue in their oppression.
E.G. Marshall once said that truth is stranger than fiction… especially if you change it to make a good story. No changes are necessary for this story; it is just strange.
The biggest problem these clowns have is that their fake witnesses keep contradicting one another. Evidently, the witnesses for the prosecution weren’t very well prepared to give testimony; at least they seemed to be forgetting their lines. Maybe they had a few drinks beforehand and kept going off script, who knows? In any event, they were screwing up the phony trial. Jesus wasn’t helping them; He kept declining comment. There’s an old saying in politics: “When your opponent is self-destructing, get out of his way.” Jesus was staying out-of-the-way in this fiasco, until…
The high priest finally asks Jesus directly the critical question: “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”
“I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
That did it, that’s what the high priest wanted to hear: blasphemy!
Jesus has assumed onto himself the rights or attributes of God in his reply, and under the Law, he must die for his crime… unless it had been a truthful answer. Because this was a high tribunal of the religious leaders, all of whom were genuinely interested in finding the Truth in holiness and all righteousness and propriety, did the high priest examine any facts that might substantiate Jesus’ claim?
Certainly not; he was only seeking an excuse to kill! Jesus was condemned immediately, spat upon and taken away and beaten.
Meanwhile, Peter, just outside in the courtyard, denied Jesus three times. (Mark 14:66-72)
The next morning, the Jewish religious leaders, those great paragons of God’s Law and the supremacy of everything Jewish, take Jesus to the unclean Gentile dogs and beseech them to murder an innocent man, sent by God to deliver them as the irony continues in our next post…