Title: A Tale of Two Stories
Text: Mark 14.53-72
Introduction: Mark 14.53; Psalm 88; Daniel 7; I’d like to begin by looking at an outline of the overall story we’re following in Mark and where we’re headed over the next few weeks leading up to Easter:
His Arrest leads to the following events:
- He is brought before Caiaphas, the High Priest
- The Inquisition before The Sanhedrin
- Lack of Witnesses
- Lack of agreement between Witnesses
- Before the frustrated High Priest once again
- His testimony condemns him
- The Trial before the Sanhedrin the next morning where he is found guilty and sentenced to death
- Sent to Pilate
- Found not guilty
- Pilate brings him before the Crowd who find him guilty
- He is Delivered to the Battalion to be Crucified
- He is Crucified between two thieves
- His Death
- His Burial
- His Resurrection
In our text this morning, two events are occurring simultaneously: Jesus remains silent while he is being falsely accused by the religious leaders and Peter is blatantly denying any connection to Christ while being accurately identified as one of his followers by a servant girl.
We see this in the form of writing Mark employs. His introduction is in v 53-54; then the two stories are told in 55-65 and 66-72.
I. A Contrast of Two Responses (53-54)
exp.: v 53 tells us to events; He is brought before the High Priest. The High Priest summons the Council. The events we’ll be looking at took place over many hours in the dark of night. In the time in between his trials, Jesus was probably held in a cell – something more like a dungeon. When I went to Israel last year, we went to the place where Jesus would have been held. He would have been brought out before the High Priest and then again, with the Council. And each time they wanted to deliberate, they would have sent him back to the dungeon. We went down into this dungeon, this holding pit, and read Psalm 88.
I think there is so much more that goes on between these sentences. I’m sure, the religious leaders are scrambling – but what to do with a prisoner waiting to stand before them. He would have been held here while the members of the Sanhedrin are summoned. According to their rules, they only need 23 of the 70 members to form a quorum. So, they don’t have to get every member – just the ones they want.
In the times between, Jesus would have been lowered into this holding pit. He would have been alone. It would have been absolute darkness. Maybe they hung a torch above, but why waste that resource? He might hear other prisoners crying out in agony. But, other than that, he would have only his own heartbeat and breathing. I wonder if Psalm 88 crossed his mind. Read Psalm 88;
exp.: at the same time, Jesus was going through his struggles, Peter was outside waiting and watching. Rd v 54a; I’m having a moment here because I can picture this; Jesus is in the pit and Peter is right outside – waiting and watching. I’m guessing as Jesus is brought in and out and back and forth, Peter saw him. rd v 54b;
app.: So, Mark has set us up using a form of writing that indicates for us that these two stories are to be understood in light of each other: Two different responses to each situation – Jesus, before the religious leaders and Peter outside by the fire.
t.s.: Let’s look first, as Mark has outlined it for us, at Jesus …
II. The Integrity of Christ (55-65)
exp.: rd v 55; 1st, I don’t think whole indicates all 70 were there; I think it indicates that there was enough to have a full quorum. Enough is there to conduct business as it were. Their business is focused – to fulfill the goal they’ve set way before – kill Jesus. According to Scripture, the only way to do this is with enough witnesses who can verify that he is guilty. But they found none!
- First of all, they were lying. Rd 56; So they found some other liars; rd 57-59;
- 2ndly, they couldn’t get their testimonies to agree. Remember this is all taking place in the night hours.
So it all ends in frustration. They are unable to find 3 witnesses who have the same story. So, the high priest stands up and takes over; rd v 60-61a; silence; rd 61b; Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” That’s a loaded question!
- Christ: the anointed one; the messiah; this is something only God can confer upon someone. We’ve seen it in the book of Mark already (this is my beloved son…);
- Son of the Blessed: The Blessed One is God. i.e.: are you God’s Son.
And Jesus answered quite simply: “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”
The High Priest tore his garments; that means he probably isn’t wearing his priestly garments; these guys finally have what they’ve wanted; you see, Jesus says some pretty bold statements here:
I kind of picture the High Priest responding like Tom Cruise at Jack Nicholson’s confession to issuing the Code Red. But instead of stepping aside and saying; if it pleases the court, I suggest the members be dismissed so that we can move to an immediate Article 39a session. The witness has rights. This high priest tears his clothes and cries Blasphemy. Why? There are two verses of Scripture Jesus alludes to when he speaks. The 1st is Psalm 110.1: The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” Which is a clear reference to the Messiah. Probably, the most quoted verse in the OT! I don’t know that for sure, but it has to be in the top 10. 2ndly, he quotes from Daniel 7. Turn there and let’s read that together.
Rd 7.9-14; Jesus isn’t claiming to be an earthly king – he’s claiming to be part of the Godhead. When he says, sitting at the right hand of Power and coming with the clouds of heaven, He’s making a definitive statement about who he is and, the High Priest gets it – as does everyone else in the room. Rd 63b: “What further witnesses do we need? Rd 64; 64 You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death.
Now it gets ugly. It’s one thing to despise a man because you think him an idiot or you hate his politics or theology. It is another to physically abuse him because you don’t like him. Rd v 65: so these godly, humble men…spit on him! They cover his face and hit him! They deliver him over to the Temple guards and the beat on him, too.
t.s.: I’m guessing some of this is even seen by Peter. Remember he’s right there.
III. The Failure of Peter (66-72)
exp.: rd 66-68; Jesus is peppered with questions and accusations that are false. Peter is hit with questions and accusations that are totally true. But, Peter denies it. In v 70 the same girl speaks up.
- The 1st time it was to him alone.
- The 2nd time she speaks to the bystanders
- The 3rd time one of the bystanders speaks up – according to another Gospel, it is his accent that sticks out.
ill.: note the contrast between these two men:
- Peter is accused by a servant Girl; Jesus, by a mob.
- Peter is faced with true accusations; The accusations against Jesus are all false
- Peter lies to his crowd but is left alone; Jesus tells the truth and is condemned for it
Rd v 72; Luke’s narrative has always intrigued me. If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to read what Luke writes:
60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.
This verse moves me because I can only imagine what the eyes of Jesus communicated to Peter. Were his eyes blackened? Swollen? Bloodied? Here is a man who has been more than a friend. The look; the rooster crows; the remembrance of the prediction – all of these culminate in a moment of realization for Peter. And in that moment and in those eyes were the compassion of a messiah whose heart is filled with forgiveness for those who reject and deny him, even this fallen apostle.
Conclusion: Oh, the countless times I’ve failed or denied my savior. And Oh, the gravity of his forgiveness that haunts my mind, as I understand I am so undeserving of his mercy.
Application: Well, what do I want you to remember from this message? Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Son of God. He rules and reigns in power. He alone will stand as judge over the earth. In light of this, I want you to know:
- The actions of his life demonstrate perfect faithfulness and truth.
- The promises in his words are perfectly sure and trustworthy. ‘then Peter remembered how Jesus had said’…What he has said will come to pass.
- Because of these two truths:
- Restoration is now our hope.
Oh sure, we can live in failure, but why? It is interesting that Mark records neither Peter’s restoration, nor Judas’ suicide. If we were left with, ‘And he broke down and wept’ But never heard anything of Peter again, those would be sad words indeed.
I got the following story from Chuck Swindoll. He got it from Nicholas Halasz, as quoted by Robert Raines, in Creative Brooding:
One morning in 1888, Alfred Noble, inventor of dynamite, the man who had spent his life amassing a fortune from the manufacture and sale of weapons, awoke to read his own obituary. The obituary was printed as a result of a simple journalistic error. Alfred’s brother had died, and a French reporter carelessly reported the death of the wrong brother. Any man would be disturbed under the circumstances, but to Alfred the shock was overwhelming because he saw himself as the world saw him–“The dynamite King (the weapon maker),” the great industrialist who had made an immense fortune from explosives. This– as far as the general public was concerned–was the entire purpose of his life (so said the obituary). None of his true intentions–to break down the barriers that separated men and ideas– were recognized or given serious consideration. He was quite simply in the eyes of the public a merchant of death, and for that alone he would be remembered….
As he read his obituary with shocking horror, he resolved to make clear to the world the true meaning and purpose of his life. This could be done through the final disposition of his fortune. His last will and testament would be the expression of his life’s ideals… and the result was the most valued of prizes given to this day to those who have done the most for the cause of world peace–the Nobel Peace Prize.
It makes you think for a moment, doesn’t it? What will I be remembered for? Who will I be remembered as? Our text today compares two stories: Jesus, the faithful and Peter, the faithless one. But I’d like to close comparing two other stories.
Mark interestingly doesn’t include Peter’s restoration. He also doesn’t include Judas’ suicide. But we remember both of them, don’t we?
If your obituary were written and published this morning in the Tyler Morning Telegraph, which of two stories would be told? Would you be remembered like Judas, whose failure stamped his life? Or, would you be remembered like Peter, whose failure was a stepping stone to a great and influential life: a life like his Master’s?
Let’s pray. God, thank you for the hope of restoration.