Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as written and recorded by John Mark. More specifically today’s passage is found in verses sixteen through thirty-two of the fifteenth chapter. When you come to this particular passage of scripture you will find the height of Jesus’ suffering being in full swing. The bread and the wine partaken of in the upper room have since passed away. The fellowship and communion that was present within the upper room has long subsided and drawn to a close. The brief period of worship as the disciples made their way with Jesus to the mount of olives has been finished. The prayers of Jesus in the garden before His Father in heaven have ceased and His betrayer had already come. The snake had made its way into the garden once more, and this time the presence of the snake brought with it soldiers armed with swords and staves. Judas’ betrayal with a kiss has come and gone, as well as Simon’s use of the sword to cut off the ear of one of the servants of the high priest. Jesus has already been seized and taken into custody by those soldiers whom the chief priests and elders dispatched on this fateful night of the week of His passion. The remaining disciples have since forsaken Christ and each fled their own ways. Only Simon called Peter followed Jesus at a distance, and followed Him to the place of His accusation. How incredibly interesting it is to think about and consider the fact what Jesus has now transitioned from the place of His betrayal to the place of His accusation where the chief priests and elders of Israel were assembled on this decisive night within His life and ministry. The events of the upper room and within the garden have come and gone and we now find Jesus in the hands of His accusers. It’s worth noting the course of events and how Jesus began this night in the company of His brothers and in the company of His friends, and would then find Himself in the hands and in company of His accusers. What’s more, is that as you continue reading the account of the life of Jesus on this night you will find that even His time in the company and presence of His accusers and adversaries would come to a close, as He would find Himself in the company and presence of His torturers and executioners. What a tremendous path and journey would take from being in the presence and company of His brethren and friends to ultimately being in the company and presence of the two thieves on the cross.
I cannot escape the tremendous reality that is found within the pages of scripture which describe the events of the night of Jesus’ betrayed. It is absolutely incredible to think that Jesus could and would begin such a night in the company and presence of His friends and brethren, and through the series and course of events you will find Jesus transitioning and moving from being in the company of His brethren and friends to ultimately being crucified in the company of thieves and murderers. What’s more, is that when Jesus stood in the company and stood before His accusers, He did so alone, for although Simon followed from a distance to the place of His accusation, Simon would deny Jesus three times before the rooster crowed twice. When Jesus stood before His accusers and His adversaries He would do so alone for all the disciples had forsaken Him and each fled their own way. What a marked and noticeable transition that would take place on this night, for many would and could not believe that Jesus could begin the night in the company and fellowship of His brethren and friends and yet ultimately find Himself in the company of thieves as He would hang nailed to a cross between them. This actually leads us to a tremendous prophetic word which I believe is incredibly important for us to think about and consider. There are many times when we find ourselves in the company and presence of our brethren and in the company of our brethren, and we seem to enjoy and experience tremendous fellowship and communion. We partake of the bread and we partake of the wine with them, and we are able to enjoy a meal in the company of those closest to us—in the company of those who have walked with us, and in the company of those who have engaged themselves within our lives. We find ourselves having enjoyed the sweet communion and fellowship of brothers and sisters, and we even enjoy a brief period of worship with those closest to us, and yet suddenly we find ourselves thrust into an intense conflict and struggle as we move from the upper room to the garden. With the worship and the fellowship of the upper room having drawn to a close we find ourselves entering into the garden where our souls become extremely heavy and where we become overwhelmingly and increasingly heavy. It is there in the garden where we experience intense travail of soul and heart as we wrestle and struggle with obedience to the divine will of God for our lives. Oh we would be incredibly naïve to think that such a struggle cannot take place outside the four walls of the house and place of fellowship and communion with our brethren and friends.
As I sit here this morning and consider the events of this night and how they unfolded within the life of Jesus the Christ, cannot help but be incredibly captivated by and with the transition that took place from being in the company of His brethren and friends to ultimately being in the company of thieves as He hung nailed to a cross between them. If you read and study the sequence of events which take place on this particular night within the life of Jesus the Christ you will find that what would begin as a seemingly enjoyable night would turn into something that was much greater than anything we in our finite and natural minds could fathom and understand. The night seems to start off wonderful and great as Jesus is in the company of those closest to Him—as Jesus is in the company of His brethren and His friends. In fact, if you begin reading with and from the twelfth verse of the fourteenth chapter you will find this night beginning in a. Way that many of us find and experience our lives, as Jesus would begin by being in the company of His friends and brethren. Consider if you will that which is written in the fourteenth chapter of this New Testament gospel of Mark beginning with the twelfth verse of the chapter:
“And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the Passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the Passover? And he sendeth forth two of His disciples, and saith unto them, Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him. And where so ever he shall go in, say ye to the Goodman of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guest chamber, where I shall eat the Passover with my disciples? And he will shew you a large upper room furnished and prepared: and there make ready for us. And His disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as He had said unto them: and they made ready the Passover. And in the evening He cometh with the twelve. And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with me shall betray me. And they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto Him one by one, is it I? And another said, is it I? And He answered and said unto them, It is one of the twelve, that dippeth with me in the dish. The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of Him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! Good were it for that man if he had never been born. And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave it to them, and said, Take eat: this is my body. And He took the cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And He said unto them, This is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many. Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God. And when they had sung a hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives” (Mark 14:12-26).
This final night of the week of His passion Jesus would begin in the company of those closest to Him and in the company of those who had walked with and followed Him for three and a half years. This night would begin with Jesus the Christ enjoying the Passover meal with His disciples, and enjoying their company and fellowship, as He partook of the bread and the cup with them. How absolutely wonderful and remarkable it is to think about and consider how such a night could begin with Jesus in the company of His disciples, and Jesus in the company of His brethren and friends, and yet it would progress to the point and place where Jesus would no longer be in the company of His friends and brethren, as each of Jesus’ disciples would forsake Him and flee once the soldiers which accompanied Judas into the garden laid hold of and seized Jesus the Christ. What would begin with Jesus in the company of His disciples, His friends, His brethren and His companions would eventually take a dramatic turn in the garden where Jesus would find Himself not only in the hands of those dispatched by His accusers and adversaries, but would find Himself in their hands completely and utterly alone. Scripture recounts for us how while Jesus was still in the garden in the hands those who would lay hold of and seize Him, each of the disciples would forsake Him and each flee in their own direction and in their own way, thus fulfilling the Scripture which declared that when you smite the Shepherd the sheep will scatter. On this particular night Jesus would lead his disciples to the place of conflict and to the place of struggle, and He would take and lead three of those disciples actually into the place of His conflict and struggle. Jesus the Christ would lead the eleven remaining disciples to the place of conflict and struggle, yet He would choose to take Peter, James and John and lead them into the place of the conflict and struggle as He first instructed them to watch, and then instructed them to watch and pray. It would be there in the garden where He Himself would journey even further as He knelt and bowed Himself before His Father who was in heaven. It would be there in the garden where He would wrestle with the divine will of God for His life, as He would emphatically declare “nevertheless, not my will, but thy will be done.” While it is true that Jesus would lead His companions and brethren to the place of conflict and struggle, it is also true that it was in that very place where Jesus would find Himself in the hands of those that were sent to seize Him and bring Him before His accusers, and those who would seek to bear false witness and testimony against Him. Please don’t miss and lose sight of the tremendous significance and importance of this, for there was a marked and noticeable transition that would take place in this passage of Scripture, as Jesus would begin the night in the company of His brethren and companions, but would then find himself in the hands of those that would seek to bring him to the place of His accusers and adversaries. Beginning with the forty-third verse of the fourteenth chapter we find the following words written and recorded by John Mark concerning the night of Jesus’ suffering:
“And immediately, while He yet spake, cometh Judas, one of the twelve, and with Him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. And He that betrayed him had given them a token, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he; take Him, and lead Him away safely. And as soon as he was come, he goeth straightway to Him, and saith, Master, master; and kissed him. And they laid their hands on him, and took him. And one of them that stood by drew a sword, and smote a servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. And Jesus answered and said unto them, Are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and with staves to take me? I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took me not: but the scriptures must be fulfilled. And they all forsook him, and fled. And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him: and he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked” (Mark 14:43-52).
With these words we find Jesus in the garden with His disciples, and yet the snake had come for Him in the garden accompanied by soldiers with swords and staves. What a marked and noticeable difference it is within this garden experience as compared to the experience of the garden within the third chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis. If you read the third chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis you will find the serpent in the garden, yet thou will find the serpent alone as he set out to deceive and to tempt Eve with the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. While it is true we find the snake in the garden in the third chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis, the snake is alone and we find absolutely no record of the snake being accompanied by any other forces. When we come to the account of Jesus in the garden, however, we find the snake once more entering into the garden—this time, the snake was not targeting Adam and Eve who were created in the image and likeness of God, but rather we find the snake targeting Jesus the Christ who was the express image of the Father within and upon the earth. We once again find the snake in the garden, yet this time we find the snake entering into the garden accompanied by soldiers who were armed with swords and staves. This time was much different, as the snake would enter into the garden accompanied by swords and staves—accompanied by and with weapons, as the snake would seek to lay hold of and take hold of Jesus by force. The snake would enter into the garden as Judas would enter into the garden and would lead a contingent of soldiers armed with swords and staves to lay hold of and seize Jesus the Christ. How interesting it is to think about and consider the fact that the night would begin with Jesus in the company of His friends and brethren as they partook of and enjoyed fellowship and communion with one another, yet as the night progressed, Jesus would find Himself in the hands of those who would deliver Him unto His accusers, and unto those who would bring false witness and testimony against Him. If you begin reading and pick up with the fifty-third verse of the fourteenth chapter you will find the following words which were written concerning Jesus Christ now standing alone before and in the company of his accusers and adversaries:
“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 priests: 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 bearr 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 priests 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 priests 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).
Within these words we find Jesus Jesus no longer in the comfort and relative peace of the upper room in the company of His companions, friends and brethren, but we find Him now in the company of His accusers and those who would bear and bring false witness against Him. By this time during the night we would find Jesus Christ in the company and presence of those who would seek to accuse Him and bring false testimony and witness against Him in order that they might find reason to condemn Him to death. What would begin with Jesus partaking of the Passover meal with those who walked with and followed Him for three and a half years would now culminate and reach the point where Jesus would stand before and stand in the company of his accusers and in the company of those who would bear false witness against Him. ON this particular night Jesus would transition from the upper room where He would enjoy sweet communion and fellowship with the disciples to now standing face to face with those who sought to destroy Him pretty much throughout the entire course of His ministry. By this time during the night we find Jesus standing toe to toe and face to face with those who previously sought to accuse, condemn and judge Him, and doing so all alone. Once brought to the house of the high priest we find Jesus the Christ now standing face to face with those who sought to accuse Him, and those who sought to find reason and occasion to destroy Him. Oh, please don’t miss and lose sight of this tremendous reality, for to do so would be to miss out on the incredible significance and importance of what took place on this night. It was nothing new that the chief priests, the elders of the people, and the scribes sought to find occasion and room to destroy Jesus, however, up until this moment in time they were never able to do so successfully. It wouldn’t be until their was an agreement made between the offense of religion and the offense of fellowship that such a reality would and could even be made possible. It wouldn’t be until fellowship and religion would meet and conspire together that it would actually be made possible where religion could lay hold of and seize Jesus the Christ. Up until this moment in time they tried time and time again to lay hold of and take Jesus by force, and yet it would and could not work until Judas would conspire together with the chief priests and elders of Israel to betray Jesus into their hands. It wouldn’t be until Judas would conspire together with Jesus’ accusers and adversaries that religion and the religious system would actually be able to lay hold of and put their hands on Jesus the Christ and seek to accomplish everything they set out to do for more than three years. By this time during the night we find the fruit of the conspiracy between religion and fellowship taking full shape and form as Jesus would now find Himself standing in the company and presence of His accusers, and those who would bear false witness and testimony against Him.
One of the greatest realities I can’t help but notice when I read this entire passage of Scripture is something that is mentioned not once, not even twice, but something that was mentioned three different times. In verse sixty of the fourteenth chapter we find Jesus standing before the high priest and the high priest asking Him to give an account of that which was being brought against Him in terms of accusation and condemnation. In the sixtieth verse of the fourteenth chapter we find the following words: “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” (Mark 14:60-61). In these two verses—not only do we find the high priest questioning Jesus in regards to the accusations and witness that were brought against Him, but we find Jesus doing something we would not expect. Though He stood before His accusers, and though He stood before those who would condemn and destroy Him, we find Jesus remaining silent and choosing to answer them not a word. In fact, the exact phrase and terminology which Mark used was that Jesus “answered them nothing” (Mark 14:61). This particular reality is again found in the first five verses of the fifteenth chapter of the same New Testament gospel, for beginning with the first verse we find the following words:
“And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried Him away, and delivered him to Pilate. And Pilate asked Him, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answereing said unto him, Thou sayest it. And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing. And Pilate asked him again, saying, Answerest thou nothing? Behold how many things they witness against thee. But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marveled” (Mark 15:1-5).
BUT HE HELD HIS PEACE! ANSWERED NOTHING! BUT HE ANSWERED NOTHING! BUT JESUS YET ANSWERED NOTHING! I have to admit that I cannot escape or get over that which is written and contained within these particular verses, for they bring us face to face with something truly remarkable and significant—not only concerning Jesus the Christ, but also concerning our own lives. Perhaps one of the greatest realities surrounding this particular night within Jesus’ life was that He allowed Himself to be betrayed, he allowed Himself to be taken in the garden, and He allowed himself to be taken by those who would seek to accuse and condemn him. If there is one thing we find within this passage of Scripture, it’s that not once did Jesus seek to defend Himself—either with his words, or with weapons of His own. There was not a single time when Jesus sought to raise a defense for Himself, and there was not a single time when Jesus would use force and weapons in order that He might somehow preserve and save his life. This is absolutely incredible, for it not only brings to mind Jesus’ words concerning His laying down His life willingly, but it also brings to mind the words which Jesus spoke concerning those who would seek to hold on to their lives versus those who would seek to let go their lives. How absolutely wonderful and amazing it is to think about and consider the fact that not only did Jesus willingly and voluntarily choose to allow Himself to be betrayed by one of His own in the garden, but Jesus also willingly and voluntarily chose to allow Himself to be taken by those who would seek to bring Him to the place of His judgment, condemnation and accusation. Jesus would do absolutely nothing to prevent Himself from being captured and taken, and even brought before those who would seek to accuse Him. Jesus deliberately and intentionally allowed Himself to be wrongly and falsely accused, and He even willingly and voluntarily allowed Himself to be betrayed by one of His own. There is not a doubt in my mind that Jesus knew what Judas was going to do when He chose him to walk with Him and be one of his disciples, which means that Jesus allowed Himself to get close to Judas, and allowed Judas to get close to Him—despite the fact that Judas would ultimately betray Him into the hands of His enemies. Jesus deliberately, willingly, voluntarily and intentionally chose to allow the one who would betray him to get close to him, and to walk with him for three and a half years. This completely goes against the grain of everything we think and everything we believe, for if we have foreknowledge that there is that one who would seek to betray us, we would do whatever we could to allow that person not to get close to us. What’s more, is that we would do everything within our power to avoid contact—much less fellowship and communion with such an individual. Not only did Jesus choose to associate Himself with His betrayer, but Jesus would also allow Himself to get close with this man, and would even allow this man to walk with Him for three and a half years. How truly remarkable and intriguing it is to think about and consider this fact, and how it completely and utterly goes against everything we think and believe within our own hearts and minds.
With all of this being said, I cannot help but consider these three verses concerning Jesus the Christ, and how despite the fact that He stood before and stood face to face with his accusers, He answered nothing. Despite the fact that Jesus stood before Pilate with the accusations now firmly set and raised against Him, Jesus chose to continue to hold His peace and remain silent. It would be one thing for Jesus to remain silent once, and for Scripture to indicate that Jesus remained silent on one occasion within the scripture, however, within the fourteenth and fifteenth chapters of the New Testament gospel of Mark we find it written and recorded how Jesus answered His accusers absolutely nothing. Pause for a moment and consider how incredibly challenging and how incredibly difficult this is—that of choosing to remain silent, and that of choosing to remain completely innocent with your words when you are standing face to face with your accusers and those who would seek to utterly and completely destroy you. The question I can’t help but ask myself is whether or not I have the courage, whether or not I have the strength, whether or not I have the fortitude to remain silent when I am standing face to face with those who would accuse me—and that of accusing me wrongly. How quickly and how easily we allow ourselves to become and grow defensive when we feel others assault and attack us, and how quick we are with the words of our mouth in order to mount a defense against and before those who would seek to condemn us. What I absolutely love about this passage of Scripture is that not only did Jesus choose not to defend Himself in the garden with swords, but Jesus also chose not to defend Himself in the company and presence of His accusers with His words. Jesus would and could not allow Himself to defend Himself and to mount a case for His innocence. Not once do we find Jesus professing and proclaiming His innocence before those who would seek to accuse Him. Not once do we find Jesus seeking to profess that He He did not commit the crimes for which He was being accused. Nowhere in Scripture will we find Jesus mounting any type of defense for Himself, and we find absolutely no record of Jesus seeking to profess and proclaim His innocence before the high priest, and even before Pilate governor of Jerusalem and appointed by Rome. Three distinct and three different times we find it written that Jesus chose to remain silent and answer His accusers absolutely nothing, and so much so that His silence even caused Pilate to marvel. Please make note of this within your heart and mind for more often than not we find it too easy to mount a defense for ourselves—particularly and especially when we perceive ourselves to be, or when we in fact are indeed innocent. So many times we feel the need within our hearts and minds to defend ourselves, and to profess and proclaim our innocence before those who would accuse us, and we refuse to allow ourselves to be thrown under the bus, we refuse to allow ourselves to be accused, we refuse to allow ourselves to be wrong. What we find about Jesus is that not only did He remain silent when He was being accused, but we also find Him remaining silent when He was being beaten, when He was being tortured, and when He was being mistreated by His accusers first, and His torturers second. In all of this we find Jesus choosing not to open His mouth once, and instead choosing to remain silent, thus indicating His willingness to relinquish His right, or His perceived right to defend Himself. How absolutely incredible it is to think about the fact that not only Jesus sought to lay hold of an maintain any sense or sort of rights to defend Himself before those who would seek to accuse Him. Never once do we find Jesus seeking to defend Himself before and against those who would seek to accuse Him, but instead chose to remain silent. I leave you with two distinct and two specific passages found within the New Testament—the first found in the sixth chapter of the New Testament epistle of First Corinthians and the second found in the fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew:
“Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? No, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a faulty among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived” (1 Corinthians 6:1-9).
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. Ands whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with Him Twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:38-48).