Chapter 69


“They Led Jesus Away”


“And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes. And Peter followed him afar off, even into the palace of the high priest: and he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire. And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none. For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together. And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying, We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands. But neither so did their witness agree together. And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses? Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death. And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands.” (Mark 14:53-65)


Solomon tells us that one evil he had seen under the sun is “when folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in low place” (Ecclesiastes 10:5-6). No words can more accurately describe the scene before us in Mark 14:53-65. Here is the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” arraigned as a common criminal before “all the chief priests, and the elders, and the scribes.” In these verses of Holy Scripture the Holy Spirit inspired Mark to record an astounding piece of history for our comfort and edification in the knowledge of Christ.


Here all the religious and political leaders of the Jews were gathered in complete agreement for the express purpose of murdering the Christ of God. These trusted, upstanding leaders of the nation deliberately sought false witnesses to condemn to death the holy Son of God. Here puny, petty, sinful men dared sit in judgment over the very God who made them, calling God himself to give an account to them, judging him who will one day come again to this earth to judge them and all the world!


            In this passage of Scripture, in this inspired, historical narrative, we see “folly setting in great dignity and the rich setting in low place.” Though he was rich, yet for our sakes, the Lord Jesus Christ became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich.


Peter’s Great Folly


Great falls are usually preceded by smaller inconsistencies. We know that God’s saints in this world are sinners still. We need nothing more than a moment’s reflection upon our own hearts to convince us of that fact. Loved from eternity, chosen by grace, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, called by his Spirit, robed in his righteousness and kept by the power of his grace we are. Yet, we live in this body of flesh. We are sinners still.


Therefore, we are warned repeatedly to watch, and pray, and beware. If we would honor the Lord our God in this world, if we would live in this world for the glory of Christ, we must beware of the sin that is in us. We must pray for grace to keep us from the evil that is in us. And we must watch over our souls with great care, resisting the world the flesh and the devil.


            We all know these things. Yet, we all commonly act as though they are unnecessary. Peter stands before us as a glaring example of just how foolishly we often act, refusing to take heed to our Master’s word and refusing to beware of ourselves. — “And Peter followed him afar off, even into the palace of the high priest: and he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire” (v. 54).


            The Lord Jesus warned Peter plainly that Satan desired to have him, that he might sift him as wheat. He told Peter that he was about to both forsake him and deny him. But Peter did not believe he could do such things.


            Even after forsaking the Lord Jesus in the garden, Peter rushed headlong into greater temptation. He saw no danger within or without. Yet, there were plenty of warnings, numerous red flags, which should have kept Peter from his dreadful, inexcusable act of denying Christ. — — The Lord Jesus told Peter that Satan was after him. — Peter’s rashness and pride, once exposed by the Master, should have humbled him. — Fleeing from the Lord Jesus in the garden in fear, forsaking him in the hour of trouble, should have made him aware of his weakness. — But now, just before his denial of his Savior, we see Peter following Christ afar off, sitting in the company of the Lord’s malicious enemies, as one of them, warming himself by their fire!


            Lot would never have wound up living in Sodom had he not made his first choice of the well watered plains to the south based upon his lusts after the things of the world. In his old age, I am sure, as Bro. Lot thought about his wife, his daughters, and his sons-in-law in hell, as he looked over an ill-spent life full of wasted opportunities, he must have rued the day when strife over cattle separated him from Abraham! — David would never have taken Bathsheba, he would never have murdered his faithful servant, Uriah, had he not lingered in the palace in ease, when there was a battle to be fought for the glory of God. — Peter would not have been tempted to deny the Lord Jesus as he did, if he had not followed the Lord afar off into the palace of the high priest, sat down with the Lord’s enemies, and warmed himself by their fire. — Let us ever take heed to ourselves, lest we fall into temptation by our own inconsistencies and indiscretions. Let us ever pray that we may not be led into temptation, but that the Lord would ever deliver us from evil.


“My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.” (Proverbs 4:20-27)


            “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 21). We must ever beware of our own sinfulness, depravity, and weakness. May God give us grace ever to trust Christ and seek his glory. Ever resist temptation. Always strive against sin. Crucify the flesh. Say no to ungodliness. Do not ever be afraid of being too particular or too strict with yourself. Once we give in to petty inconsistencies, once we begin to indulge the flesh, we are paving the road to shame.


Christ’s Great Humiliation


Our Lord Jesus Christ willingly endured indescribably great shame and humiliation that he might be our great Savior. Mark records our Savior’s arrest, the false accusations made against him, the venomous spit of men’s throats upon his face, the angry beatings our Lord endured, the cruel buffeting, the haughty slaps of rage, and the taunting jeers and mockery Immanuel endured before the high priests and the assembly of the chief priests and elders of Israel. These things are not easily endured. We would never voluntarily subject ourselves to such things. But the Son of God, our Savior, willingly took our shame, as well as the sin that caused it, that he might redeem us and save us from our sins (Isaiah 53:4-7; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 2:10).


            Robert Hawker wrote, “Every minute circumstance merits our closest regard. Perhaps there is not the smallest indignity offered to the person of the Lord Jesus, but had a mystical meaning.” As soon as he was arrested, the Lamb of God was led away to the high priest, because the law of God required that the sacrifice be brought before the priest for inspection before it was offered upon God’s altar (Leviticus 17:5).


Our Great God


Our holy Redeemer was accused of plotting to destroy the temple, refusing to pay tribute to Caesar, and blasphemy against God. These and many other charges were brought forward; but no witnesses could be found, or even hired, to substantiate them. But when the high priest asked him pointedly, “Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” and the Lord Jesus told him plainly that he is, asserting his eternal divinity and Godhead, “all condemned him to be guilty of death.


He who is our great Savior is the Christ, the Son of the Blessed. The man Christ Jesus is our great God and Savior. The high priest asked our Lord this solemn question: — “Art thou the Christ the Son of the blessed?” And our Lord Jesus gave him an immediate, unmistakable answer. — “And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven” (v. 62).


            Our Master was dealing with an arrogant, self-righteous, know-it-all rebel. When he answered this great religious leader, he did not gratify his imaginary brilliance or show the least respect for his position. He offered no proof for his assertion, though there was an abundance of proof at hand. He simply stated the fact of who he was and is, demanding that this sinner make an immediate decision.


            Look at our Lord’s statement carefully, and hear it clearly. He said to this Caiaphas, the high priest of Israel, “I AM!” That is no small statement! The Lord Jesus could have used any word he desired. He could have simply said, “Yes,” or “That is who I am,”, or “The Scriptures testify that I am.” Instead, he chose to answer this rebel in such a way that he must either bow to him, or demand his execution. He took the very name of God unto himself! This man said to the high priest, the elders and the scribes, “I AM THE I AM!”


Then he said, “You shall see me, the Son of man, sitting as God on the right hand of power!” That is the meaning of the next part of the sentence. To sit on the right hand of power is to sit upon the throne of God! In other words the Lord Jesus said to Caiaphas, “Just in case you did not get my meaning, I am telling you that this man standing in front of you is God almighty.”


He came into this world as a man to save his people from their sins. Caiaphas was about to have him executed, precisely because he was determined to die upon the cursed tree as our Substitute. When he finished his work of redemption, he went back to glory and took his seat upon the throne of God, the throne of grace. Now, there is a man in Glory who is touched with the feeling of our infirmities, a man who is himself our great God! He rules the universe for us. He intercedes for us. He will save us.


Our Lord Jesus said to Caiaphas, “You will soon see me come again in the clouds of heaven to sit in judgment over you!” — “And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” What a stern warning this is! There is a judgment to come. One day soon, you and I will stand before the great white throne, before the tribunal of the holy Lord God.


Man’s Great Offense


Man’s unbelief is a willful, deliberate choice and decided declaration that God is a liar, that Jesus Christ deserved to be put to death, and that the Word of God is a horrible, hellish hoax devised to delude and deceive the souls of men.      Like Caiaphas, sinners are confronted with the claims of the Christ of God. We must either bow to his claims or perish under the wrath of God. As we preach the gospel, we call for a decision from all who hear. — “Will you, or will you not trust the Son of God? Bow to him you will, sooner or later; but will you bow to him now and seek his mercy whose wrath you cannot bear?”


            If the rebel says, “No,” his unbelief is not a matter of ignorance or indifference. He is saying, “God is a liar, Jesus Christ was an imposter who deserved to be put to death, and the Bible is a hellish hoax upon the souls of men.” That is what Caiaphas did; and that’s what every unbeliever does. Unbelief is nothing less than spitting upon the face of the Son of God; but men will not forever spit upon the Christ of God and get by (1 John 5:10-12; Proverbs 1:23-33).




Don Fortner



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