with Alan Bailey
Welcome to this Bible Study. Read what I have written slowly. If you have a Bible look up the reference verses given, and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your soul through them.
We have reached the point in the Gospel story where Jesus is being questioned by the High Priest and the ruling body, the Sanhedrin. The only disciples present seem to be John and Peter. We saw that Peter was very uncomfortable, trying not to be noticed as he warmed himself by the brazier. The trial of Jesus goes on, even though it was illegal to try a man at night.
Verses 55, 56 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. Many testified falsely against Him, but their statements did not agree.
It can already be seen that the Jews did not look for a fair trial but they simply wanted to do away with Jesus. It was difficult for them to make a valid charge as there was no evidence found. The attempt by some to make an allegation failed to hold together.
Verses 57-59 Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against Him. We heard Him say "I will destroy this man-made temple and in three days will build another not made by man." Yet even then, their testimony did not agree.
This was really clutching at straws. Jesus had said similar words but had a different meaning. He was saying that the temple of His body would die but that He would rise on the third day. They thought He meant the literal temple. In any case, they had no grounds for execution.
Verses 60, 61 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. But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.
Perhaps Jesus felt that this so-called trial was not worthy of His co-operation. He had a dignity which would not be compromised by any of the questioning He was facing. Later, when being tried by Pilate, He was silent at certain points.
Verses 62- 64 Again the high priest asked Him, "Are you the Christ, 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." The high priest tore his clothes. "Why do we need any more witnesses?" he asked. "You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?"
The high priest was asking Jesus this question because he had heard that Jesus had made this claim previously. The Jews awaited their Messiah but could not accept the idea of Son of God, seeing it as blasphemy (evil speech about God). But Jesus made the claim emphatically by what He then said. It was a claim of equality with God. So now the high priest thought he had the evidence needed for Christ's death.
Verse 65 Then all condemned Him as worthy of death, 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.
It is good for us to remember that here was God in the flesh. A perfect man. A man who had only done good, blessing others. Yet men treated Him in an unjust, cruel way. The punching and beating would have been merciless. But this was just the beginning of His humiliation before these unworthy persecutors.
Verses 66-68 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him. "You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus," she said. But he denied it. "I don't know or understand what you're talking about," he said, and went out into the entry way.
Peter had earlier said that he would never disown Jesus, even if it cost him his life. But here we see the weakness of human nature. Our vows are so often broken; our best intentions lie in the dust. We can only guess that in the face of the authorities around him, Peter was afraid. He would wonder if he would also be arrested and tried. But we now see that he gets another chance to own up.
Verses 69-71 When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, "This fellow is one of them" 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." He began to call down curses upon himself, and he swore to them, "I don't know this man you're talking about."
Peter is sinking beneath his own lies. He is in a trap set by himself. His first 'No' now has to be reinforced. Lies lead us into trouble, always. But in Peter's case there is the added dimension of turning his back upon the one he loves. Loyalty is nowhere to be seen. Peter behaves like an unbeliever and wants the people around him to think he is one of them. What a warning to us all. If Jesus is our Lord, there is no turning back. No compromise. We are never to be ashamed to say that we belong to Him in whatever company we find ourselves.
Verse 72 Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: "Before the rooster crows twice, you will disown me three times." And he broke down and wept.
Of course, all the things Jesus predicted came true. And what He said about the last days will yet come true. So it all happened with Peter as the Lord had said. Luke's Gospel tells us that the Lord turned and looked at Peter after his denial. We can only imagine how Peter felt and how much he regretted what he did. That Gospel also says that Peter went out and "wept bitterly."
As we know, the Lord had twelve disciples. One betrayed Him to those who wanted to kill Him. Another denied knowing Him. All the others "forsook Him and fled" we are told. This doesn't look promising for the future of the movement Jesus began. Had He failed to train a group to take the Gospel to the world? It would appear so but there was a foundation laid on which God would build. Sending the Holy Spirit, the weakness of the followers of Jesus was changed to strength and boldness. But at this point in Mark's Gospel, Jesus is alone. Alone to face the Roman world which had the power the Jewish people didn't have. The Jews were ruled by Rome and had no power to execute.
So the next step was to take Jesus before Pilate, the representative of the Emperor, in the hope they could secure His death.
There is so much to learn from what we have read. We may think we are not good enough to be used by God in His service. But we see that the disciples were very ordinary people. Yet they were God's choice to found the church, something that has changed the world. Also, we can take note that failure was not the end for Peter. He was restored and forgiven. So can we experience this because of the grace of God.•