Today we continue the Season of Lent. It lasts for 40 days just before Easter Sunday. In those 40 days we read difficult texts, because they tell the story of the journey Jesus was on to redeem all of creation.
There are several ways to choose texts in this season, and we have chosen to read Adam Hamilton’s book, 24 Hours that Changed the World. We will break down several components of Jesus’ final day in Jerusalem, we will try to understand the conditions of the time for all involved, and further understand the path he felt he had to take, regardless of the circumstances.
Today we will read and discuss Jesus’ hearing before the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was a council comprised of seventy-one elders who were considered to be among the wisest and most pious men of the time. The very idea of the council comes from Numbers 11:16, where God commanded Moses to gather seventy leaders who would join him in governing the people on God’s behalf. In Jesus’ time, the seventy-one men ruled over the religious affairs of the people just as the Romans ruled over their political affairs. The Sanhedrin had control of the Temple and the religious courts. They were men who devoted themselves to God, and their high priest was the leading religious figure of his time. Hamilton, Adam. 24 Hours That Changed the World, Expanded Large Print Edition (p. 47). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.
Mark 14: 55-64 Common English Bible (CEB)
55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for testimony against Jesus in order to put him to death, but they couldn’t find any. 56 Many brought false testimony against him, but they contradicted each other. 57 Some stood to offer false witness against him, saying, 58 “We heard him saying, ‘I will destroy this temple, constructed by humans, and within three days I will build another, one not made by humans.’” 59 But their testimonies didn’t agree even on this point.
60 Then the high priest stood up in the middle of the gathering and examined Jesus. “Aren’t you going to respond to the testimony these people have brought against you?” 61 But Jesus was silent and didn’t answer. Again, the high priest asked, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the blessed one?”
62 Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Human One sitting on the right side of the Almighty and coming on the heavenly clouds.”
63 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “Why do we need any more witnesses?64 You’ve heard his insult against God. What do you think?”
They all condemned him. “He deserves to die!”
Three Points of Discussion
Quote #1 - We need to step back from this scene for a moment to recognize its full import and appreciate its tragic irony. Christians believe that in Jesus, God walked in human flesh on this earth. He was in that sense like an emperor who so desires to know his subjects that he dons ordinary clothes and lives among them, with no one recognizing or understanding him. The God of the universe chose to walk in human flesh as an itinerant preacher, teacher, carpenter, healer—and pauper. He came as one of us. He healed the sick, forgave sinners, showed compassion to the lost, and taught people what God was really like. We must not miss the irony here: It was not the “sinners” who arrested God when he walked among us. Those who took him into custody and tried him were the most pious and religious people on the face of the earth. Hamilton, Adam. 24 Hours That Changed the World, Expanded Large Print Edition (p. 48). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.
Quote #2 - We all are born afraid. Part of that is a mechanism God has given us to protect ourselves; we call it the self-preservation instinct. That mechanism can be helpful in dangerous situations. There are times when we have to fight, to work, to exert energy in order to save ourselves; and there also are times when we need to run from a situation. Unfortunately, our self-preservation instinct is coupled with our sin instinct. There is something in all of us that is broken. We have a propensity to do the wrong thing, to twist what was meant to be good, to misuse and distort it. You know this, and I know it. Hamilton, Adam. 24 Hours That Changed the World, Expanded Large Print Edition (pp. 49-50). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.
Quote #3 - I am certain that at least a few of those seventy-one Sanhedrin members must have questioned whether putting Jesus to death was the right thing to do. Some had to wonder whether this man might not truly be the Messiah. But there is nothing in any of the Gospel accounts to indicate that a single one of them, other than Joseph of Arimathea, disagreed when it came to the death sentence they sought from Pilate. That points to another fact of human existence: Resisting those in leadership or in the majority, even when we believe they are doing wrong, is exceedingly difficult. When the tide is moving, we tend to be afraid to stand up and resist. Hamilton, Adam. 24 Hours That Changed the World, Expanded Large Print Edition (p. 51). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.
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