Jesus before the Sanhedrin

This is written by John Holden-White. He is an actor, Family Guy and part of St Mary's furniture.

Mark 14:53-72

Jesus before the Sanhedrin
53 They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together. 54 Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.

55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. 56 Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.

57 Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: 58 'We heard him say, "I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands."' 59 Yet even then their testimony did not agree.

60 Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, 'Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?' 61 But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.

Again the high priest asked him, 'Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?'

62 '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.'

63 The high priest tore his clothes. 'Why do we need any more witnesses?' he asked. 64 'You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?'

They all condemned him as worthy of death. 65 Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, 'Prophesy!' And the guards took him and beat him.

Peter disowns Jesus
66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came by. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.

'You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,' she said.

68 But he denied it. 'I don't know or understand what you're talking about,' he said, and went out into the entrance.

69 When the servant-girl saw him there, she said again to those standing round them, 'This fellow is one of them.' 70 Again he denied it.

After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, 'Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.'

71 He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, 'I don't know this man you're talking about.'

72 Immediately the cock crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: 'Before the cock crows twice you will disown me three times.' And he broke down and wept.


Last year I visited Jerusalem whilst touring the Holy Land with a group of actors and pilgrims. The actors amongst us were performing scenes and sketches to help us engage with the places and stories that we know from our Bibles. It was a wonderful, challenging and, at times, very moving experience. Approaching the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (traditionally upheld as the place of Christ's crucifixion), we passed under a large banner commemorating the 21 Coptic Christian martyrs beheaded in Libya during February 2015. The name of Jesus was the last word on their lips - an awesome testimony to the faith of these men. They were able to trust Him in the midst of a terrifying ordeal. l wonder how I would respond to that kind of stress.

The passage tells us of two men under extreme pressure. Jesus stands before a hostile council. Verse 55 tells us that they were seeking testimony against him so that they might put him to death. And Peter is identified. What is he to do?

He is frightened, off-guard, alone.

And, whilst Jesus acts out of obedience and submits to God's will, Peter acts out of fear and self-preservation.

We have, all at times denied Jesus. Even Peter. Luke's gospel tells us that Jesus turned to look at Peter when the cockerel crowed. Imagine that! He was devastated!

But Peter was not defined by his failures and neither should we allow ourselves to be. The good news is that we can continue to ask for, and receive, the same grace and forgiveness that saw Peter restored to a right relationship with Jesus.
Lord, forgive me my failures and help me to put my trust in you.

Thank you that you are with me, even in the most troubling of circumstances.

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