A Tale of Two Testimonies

A Tale Of Two Testimonies: Mark 14:53-65
Pastor John Nicholas
Sunday June 6, 2021

They came for Jesus. 500-1000 men. When they found Him and He said I am He, they all fell to the ground (John 18:6). And He was arrested. Don’t miss this. The situation was completely in control. Nothing was happening that was not supposed to happen. Jesus isn’t arrested because men desire it. Jesus is arrested because He allows it. Everything that is happening is because of the sovereignty of God.

John 18:6 (NASB)
6 Now then, when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

His disciples weren’t able to pray for Him.

And they ran.

The soldiers and officers of the courts took. This where we pick up the story. And it is important to consider a few things as we move into the trial phase of Jesus.

Looking at the book of Deuteronomy we get some valuable information with regard to legal proceedings in ancient Israel. This is the book of the second telling of the Law. The Israelites are about a month or so away from entering into the promised land. Important information with regard to justice are given here.

Look at Deut 16:18 – they are to set up judges and officers in all the towns that God will give them. This will be the basis of the Sanhedrin. Every town that has 120 men will have 23 judges. To ensure that there is a decision.

Loot at v19 – you shall not distort justice. No bribes. No partiality.

And this verse – v20 – just and only justice you shall pursue. And only by doing this may you live in the land that God gives them.

Deuteronomy 16:18-20 (NASB)
18 “You shall appoint for yourself judges and officers in all your towns which the Lord your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment.
19 You shall not distort justice, you shall not show partiality; and you shall not accept a bribe, because a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and distorts the words of the righteous.
20 Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, so that you may live and possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

Nothing is to distort Justice. This is what God is like. He is Just. And He is Holy. They are to be a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.

Turn with me to Deut 19:8-13 notice how there is a restating of God’s promise in v8 and v9 that they are to walk in the ways of the Lord. And now the key verse – v10 – so innocent will not be shed and blood-guiltiness on them. So innocent blood will not be shed. Then v11-13 tells us that the one who sheds innocent blood will be killed.

Deuteronomy 19:8-13 (NASB)
8 “And if the Lord your God enlarges your territory, just as He has sworn to your fathers, and gives you all the land that He promised to give your fathers—
9 if you carefully follow all of this commandment which I am commanding you today, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in His ways always—then you shall add three more cities for yourself, besides these three.
10 So innocent blood will not be shed in the midst of your land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and guilt for bloodshed will not be on you.
11 “But if there is a person who hates his neighbor, and waits in ambush for him and rises up against him and strikes him so that he dies, and he flees to one of these cities,
12 then the elders of his city shall send men and take him from there, and hand him over to the avenger of blood, so that he may die.
13 You shall not pity him, but you shall eliminate the guilt for the bloodshed of the innocent from Israel, so that it may go well for you.

What does this all mean? The innocent are to be preserved. It is important to God that people are not wrongly accused and punished. This is built upon in the next set of verses starting in v15. A single witness is not enough to establish guilt and punishment. You must have at least two to proceed to the trial. You must have the testimony of at least two. Remember this. This is God’s standard. It is only on the testimony of two or three that a matter will be confirmed (v15).

Deuteronomy 19:15 (NASB)
15 “A single witness shall not rise up against a person regarding any wrongdoing or any sin that he commits; on the testimony of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.

The innocent are to be preserved and this is the manner in which it is assured.

The instruction continues. V16 tells us about false witnesses. Those who give false testimony against the innocent. Then the accused and the accuser shall stand before the judges and the judges will investigate the case. Thoroughly. And if the witness is determined to be false then v19 tells us that what was to be done to the accused shall now been done to the false witness.

Deuteronomy 19:16-19 (NASB)
16 If a malicious witness rises up against a person to testify against him of wrongdoing,
17 then both people who have the dispute shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who will be in office in those days.
18 And the judges shall investigate thoroughly, and if the witness is a false witness and he has testified against his brother falsely,
19 then you shall do to him just as he had planned to do to his brother. So you shall eliminate the evil from among you.

In other words in the case of a capital punishment case the false witness will now be killed. Hear this again if the witness is false he gets the punishment of the accused.

This is a serious matter and we find the reasoning in the character of God. We find it in His desire for the nation of Israel. They are to be a holy nation, a kingdom of Priests. They are to be God’s representatives on earth. Other nations are to look at Israel, now going into the promised land, and marvel at how great God is. Other nations should be able to see what type of God He is by the way His people act. And nothing will be clearer than in the justice system.

In God’s eyes it is more important that the innocent are preserved that for the guilty to be punished by men. Listen to that again. God is a God of justice, He is not a God of injustice. No one gets punished by God that does not deserve it. Justice is so important to God, but He knows the heart of men. He knows how wicked men can be. Therefore He has put guard rails in place to protect the innocent from wicked men.

Now look at Deut 17 starting in v5. The one who has been rightly judged as guilty of a capital crime shall be brought out to be stoned. And v6 is again stating that there must be two or three witnesses. And now look at v7. The first stone that is thrown is to be by the witnesses. The witnesses are to have an active hand in the death of the accused. The preservation of the innocent is so important that those who accuse must be part of the death penalty. This is meant to keep false witnesses from trumping up charges. It is made to keep the system as pure as possible. So that they would represent God in the right manner. So that justice would be given and the innocent would be preserved. (the jealous man, the woman accused of adultery and the bitter drink – Numbers 5:11-28

Deuteronomy 17:5-6 (NASB)
5 then you are to bring out to your gates that man or woman who has done this evil deed, that is, the man or the woman, and you shall stone them to death.
6 On the testimony of two witnesses or three witnesses, the condemned shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the testimony of only one witness.

Numbers 5:11-28 (NASB)
The Adultery Test
11 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 12 “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘If any man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him,
13 and a man has sexual relations with her and it is hidden from the eyes of her husband and she remains undiscovered, although she has defiled herself, and there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act,
14 if an attitude of jealousy comes over him and he is jealous of his wife when she has defiled herself, or if an attitude of jealousy comes over him and he is jealous of his wife when she has not defiled herself,
15 the man shall then bring his wife to the priest, and shall bring as an offering for her a tenth of an ephah of barley meal; he shall not pour oil on it nor put frankincense on it, because it is a grain offering of jealousy, a grain offering of reminder, a reminder of wrongdoing.
16 ‘Then the priest shall bring her forward and have her stand before the Lord,
17 and the priest shall take holy water in an earthenware container; and he shall take some of the dust that is on the floor of the tabernacle and put it in the water.
18 The priest shall then have the woman stand before the Lord and let down the hair of the woman’s head, and place the grain offering of reminder in her hands, that is, the grain offering of jealousy; and in the hand of the priest is to be the water of bitterness that brings a curse.
19 And the priest shall have her take an oath and shall say to the woman, “If no man has had sexual relations with you and if you have not gone astray into uncleanness, as you are under the authority of your husband, be immune to this water of bitterness that brings a curse;
20 if, however, you have gone astray, though under the authority of your husband, and if you have defiled yourself and a man other than your husband has had sexual intercourse with you”
21 (then the priest shall have the woman swear with the oath of the curse, and the priest shall say to the woman), “may the Lord make you a curse and an oath among your people by the Lord’s making your thigh shriveled and your belly swollen;
22 and this water that brings a curse shall go into your stomach, to make your belly swell up and your thigh shrivel.” And the woman shall say, “Amen, Amen.”
23 ‘The priest shall then write these curses on a scroll, and he shall wash them off into the water of bitterness.
24 Then he shall make the woman drink the water of bitterness that brings a curse, so that the water which brings a curse will go into her and cause bitterness.
25 And the priest shall take the grain offering of jealousy from the woman’s hand, and he shall wave the grain offering before the Lord and bring it to the altar;
26 and the priest shall take a handful of the grain offering as its reminder offering and offer it up in smoke on the altar, and afterward he shall make the woman drink the water.
27 When he has made her drink the water, then it will come about, if she has defiled herself and has been unfaithful to her husband, that the water which brings a curse will go into her and cause bitterness, and her belly will swell up and her thigh will shrivel, and the woman will become a curse among her people.
28 But if the woman has not defiled herself and is clean, she will be immune and conceive children.

Now for just a brief moment a question to ponder. Why is God willing that that the guilty go unpunished that the innocent are preserved? The answer is quite simple. God is the ultimate judge. So those who are guilty that go free here will never escape justice. It will be meted out by God. Therefore, the innocence is to be preserved at all costs, even if it means that the guilty go free. The nation is to be free of innocent blood.
And just to add to the information. Trials were to be in the daytime. They couldn’t begin

in the afternoons. The judges were to fast. Those who were judges could also be disciples of older judges which brings up a curious point. The votes were counted, and the younger judges always went first. Why? So they wouldn’t be swayed by their elders. The innocent were to be preserved.

This has all been the preamble to where we are in the passion narrative.

The arrest. Mark picks up at the second part of the trial of the Jews. But we need to touch on another point. We need to speak of the first part of the trial.

The first trial began with a former high priest. Annas. You remember him. The bazaar in the temple. The money changes. Jesus overturning the table twice. This was Annas’ bazaar. It was his money making venture that Jesus had upset twice. This is where Jesus arrives first.

Now Annas has a somewhat interesting back story beyond the bazaar. He was the high priest in 7AD but the Romans made him step down in 15AD for reasons unknown. But you see the title of high priest is retained much like that of a president. He would always be referred to as the high priest. He had 5 sons who had all been high priests and Caiaphas, the current high priest, was his son in law. As one person described his family, it was like a crime family, the mafia, with Annas as the true head of the family. He essentially ran the Sanhedrin.

And his home was near the temple and that is where we pick up on the first trial in John 18:12-1419-24. We should remember that Caiaphas all part of the conspiracy to kill Jesus, in John 11:50, had said that is would be good that one man died that the nation be saved. That they should sacrifice one man to keep the Romans at bay. And then in v51 he prophesied that it would be Jesus.

John 18:12-14 (NASB)
Jesus before the Priests
12 So the Roman cohort, the commander, and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound Him,
13 and brought Him to Annas first; for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year.
14 Now Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was in their best interest for one man to die in behalf of the people.

John 18:19-24 (NASB)
19 The high priest then questioned Jesus about His disciples, and about His teaching.
20 Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues and in the temple area, where all the Jews congregate; and I said nothing in secret.
21 Why are you asking Me? Ask those who have heard what I spoke to them. Look: these people know what I said.”
22 But when He said this, one of the officers, who was standing nearby, struck Jesus, saying, “Is that the way You answer the high priest?”
23 Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify of the wrong; but if rightly, why do you strike Me?”
24 So Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

John 11:50-51 (NASB)
50 nor are you taking into account that it is in your best interest that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish instead.”
51 Now he did not say this on his own, but as he was high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation;

Back in John 18:19 they begin to question Jesus about his disciples and what He taught. V20 Jesus says that nothing that He taught was hidden. It was all out in the open. For all to hear. And in v21 Jesus tells them to go and question those who heard. They will tell you exactly what I said.

Jesus is struck. In false piety by an officer. Jesus is the one that is being railroaded. He is the one who is facing false charges and wicked judges. Yet he is the one that is struck.

And Jesus responds in v23 – show the testimony that says I am wrong. They can’t do it. It is time to send Him to the next part of the trial phase of the Jews. Back to his son in law. Back to Caiaphas.

False testimonies are the course of this night.

We find Peter hanging around outside. He loves Jesus but the flesh is weak. He is being sifted. He wants to know what is going on. But he can’t do anything. He is at the fire, with the officers of the court, outside. They are near Caiaphas’s house. They are in the proximity of the temple. Another disciple who knew the right people got him access to this location. He was as close as he could get to his Lord.

Now the Sanhedrin is assembled in and about Caiaphas’s house. The second trial is beginning. And they have already decided the outcome.

They kept trying to find people to testify against Jesus (v55-57). Matthew 26:59 tells us that they needed this testimony to put Him to death. And they couldn’t find any. Why? Because Jesus is always truthful and always speaks the truth.

Mark 14:55-57 (NASB)
55 Now the chief priests and the entire Council were trying to obtain testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, and they were not finding any.
56 For many people were giving false testimony against Him, and so their testimonies were not consistent.
57 And then some stood up and began giving false testimony against Him, saying,

Matthew 26:59 (NASB)
59 Now the chief priests and the entire Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death.

But trumped up charges are found. And in v58 it tells the reader that even those they got wrong. They attributed the words he spoke of himself to the be speaking of the temple itself (John 2:19). And they get this so wrong. They attribute to a temple made with hands and then remade without hands. They can’t even get the false testimonies correct.

Mark 14:58 (NASB)
58 “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that was made by hands, and in three days I will build another, made without hands.’”

John 2:19 (NASB)

19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

They are trying so hard with the false testimony against an innocent man. They are desperate to kill Him. They must kill Him. By any means possible. To those who wish to commit this travesty of justice there is no bridge to far. They must kill him.

All under the cover of darkness. All behind closed doors. All under the table. All in violation of Jewish law. All in violation of God’s law. At this point the judges should be carefully examining the evidence and they should acquit Jesus. But they want Him dead at all costs.

V60 – 61The High priest demands that Jesus defend Himself. That Jesus answer these false charges. But the innocent man refuses to do so. Rightly. Why would he need to? Where are the judges. Where is the concern for the innocent?

Mark 14:60-61 (NASB)
60 And then the high priest stood up and came forward and questioned Jesus, saying, “Do You not offer any answer for what these men are testifying against You?”
61 But He kept silent and did not offer any answer. Again the high priest was questioning Him, and *said to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”

Besides this is fulfillment of Isaiah 53:7 whereas a sheep stood silent before the shearer so will the oppressed be silent before His oppressors.

Isaiah 53:7 (NASB)
7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.

There is no concern because they are distorting justice. They are being partial. They are making a mockery of God’s law. They are blaspheming God by their actions.

And they couldn’t get the false testimonies together to convict Jesus. It was a mockery the whole way around. They needed to take another course of action.

Now the true mockery of Christ comes in v61. Are you the Messiah? Are you the blessed one of God? We need to look at Matthew 26:63 to get a few more details. The word adjure is used. He is asking Jesus to testify by God.

Mark 14: 61 (NASB)
61 But He kept silent and did not offer any answer. Again the high priest was questioning Him, and *said to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”

Matthew 26:63 (NASB)
63 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, “I place You under oath by the living God, to tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.”

We use it, or used to, in court cases. I swear upon this bible that what I am about to say is true. I may have told lies in the past but right now what I say is true. Now, if this weren’t so serious, it would be fairly comical. It is insulting at the very least. They are asking God to swear by God. They are saying that things that Jesus has said in the past have been lies and that He must tell the truth now. How blasphemous by the high priest.

In v62 Jesus answers in the affirmative. I am He. Using the words of the burning bush. He states Ego Emi. I AM. There is no question who He is. He is the God Man. And states this truth referring to both Psalm 110 and Daniel 7:13. Passages they would know by heart. To hear this Jesus say this cut them. He preached His position beyond the immediate case. He was telling them that regardless of what they do He was seated at the right hand of the Father. And regardless of how they would judge He would be returning as the true Judge. And it unleashed the mob.

Mark 14:62 (NASB)
62 And Jesus said, “I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

Psalm 110 (NASB)
The Lord Gives Dominion to the King.
A Psalm of David.
1 The Lord says to my Lord:
“Sit at My right hand
Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”
2 The Lord will stretch out Your strong scepter from Zion, saying,
“Rule in the midst of Your enemies.”
3 Your people will volunteer freely on the day of Your power;
In holy splendor, from the womb of the dawn,
Your youth are to You as the dew.

4 The Lord has sworn and will not [e]change His mind,
“You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek.”
5 The Lord is at Your right hand;
He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath.
6 He will judge among the nations,
He will fill them with corpses,
He will shatter the chief men over a broad country.
7 He will drink from the brook by the wayside;
Therefore He will lift up His head.

Daniel 7:13 (NASB)
The Son of Man Presented
13 “I kept looking in the night visions,
And behold, with the clouds of heaven
One like a son of man was coming,
And He came up to the Ancient of Days
And was presented before Him.

Mob rule now came into play. There would be no vote. There would be no recording of that vote. It was a party that desired death.

They didn’t see Jesus as God. They only saw Him as a man who was upsetting their system of rule and power. And now they had the blasphemous words that they needed. Kill him. Any false semblance of order was out the door. It was all gone.

Mark 14:63-65 (NASB)
63 Tearing his clothes, the high priest *said, “What further need do we have of witnesses?
64 You have heard the blasphemy; how does it seem to you?” And they all condemned Him as deserving of death.
65 And some began to spit on Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him with their fists and say to Him, “Prophesy!” Then the officers took custody of Him and slapped Him in the face.

The mob, the illegality, ruled the day. They had Him. They Had the sacrifice. Any ideas they had of doing this quietly in a week are so were done. Now is the time.

Slapped and beaten and blindfolded. This is how they drag Him out. The last insult is calling Him to prophesy. Tell us who is striking you. Prophesy, you blasphemous wretch.

And now there is a problem that is before them. The Romans control all of the region and blasphemy is not punishable by death under Roman law. They will need to give the Romans a reason for death when they hand Him over.

A man that is truly the only innocent Man. In a travesty of justice.

Everything done in exactly the opposite way it should have been done

So what do we make of this narrative?

What sticks out?

Does evil triumph?

Sometimes it does momentarily

And those moments can seem like an eternity

Has God’s plan been way laid?

No hardly, it is going completely to plan

But that isn’t where we are going

You see this sermon started with two testimonies

a false testimony of the evil accusers

and the true testimony of the Son of Man

false and true

and we will end on both a false and a true testimony

and I want you to pay close attention to this because your life depends on it

There are two types of people

Those to whom Jesus is Lord and Savior

And those to whom Jesus is not

You see everyone at the trial knew who Jesus was

They could see Him

They could touch Him

But He was not their Lord and Savior

He was not the fulfillment of the prophecies

He was not the Lamb of Isaiah 53:7

He was a man

And that is all that He was to them

They knew a lot about Him

They knew who His parents were

They knew where He grew up

They knew about the healings

They knew about the miraculous feedings

They knew about raising Lazarus from the dead

They knew how he taught

They knew who he taught

They knew what he taught

They knew where he traveled

They knew when he traveled

They knew when he was out of town

They knew when he was in town

They knew what he looked like

They knew how he walked

They knew how tall he was

They knew the color of his hair

They new the color of his eyes

They knew what he sounded like

You see they knew more information about Him than you or I

Can you see the danger?

They knew it all but did not see

If someone asked them, do you know Jesus they could have said yes

They could have testified that they knew Jesus – but it was false

They knew Jesus but were not known by Him

And that is the problem

They are like Matthew 7:21-23

Matthew 7:21-23 (NASB)
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.
22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’
23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; leave Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

You see Jesus would have testified that He did not know them – and it was true

There was nothing about him that was hidden to them except who He was

He was not their Lord

He was not their Savior

And remember your life depends on this

There is nothing else

Will Jesus testify that He knows you?

Maybe there are some like that here today

You know a lot about Jesus

You can recite passages of Scripture

You can pontificate on the great doctrines of Christianity at length

You can even lead people to Jesus

But you don’t know Him as Lord and Savior

You hold on to you

You hold on to your ways because maybe Jesus isn’t enough

You hold on to the false idea that knowing about Jesus is enough and I can live whatever way I want

I can tell you right now you are in grave danger

There is a great cavernous pit that lays before you

One in which the only escape is knowing Jesus as Lord or your life

That Jesus is the way the truth and the life

If you don’t know this you are like those men in Caiaphas’s house

You are like the men who know all about Jesus and then slap and hit and spit on Him

To know about Jesus and to not have Him as Lord of your life is blaspheme against God

And to die without Christ as Lord of your life will put you in the hands of the righteous Judge

You will be like Judas and Caiaphas

Men who could testify that they knew Jesus

But to whom Jesus would testify that He did not know them at all

You will be before the throne of judgement and He will say that He does not know you and you will cast into damnation

I implore you that if you do not know Jesus as Lord that you would know Him in that way

Philippians 2:12 (NASB)
12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;

It is the only Hope that you have

If you have questions about this we can talk to you

Pray, Observe, Apply.

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