Jesus Before the Sanhedrin
53 They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together. 54 Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.
55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. 56 Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.
57 Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’” 59 Yet even then their testimony did not agree.
60 Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 61 But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.
Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”
62 “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
63 The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. 64 “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”
They all condemned him as worthy of death. 65 Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.
Peter Disowns Jesus
66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.
“You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.
68 But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway.[a]
69 When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” 70 Again he denied it.
After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.”
71 He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”
72 Immediately the rooster crowed the second time.[b] Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice[c] you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept.
Following Luther’s simple way to pray and his way to let the Word of God warm up our hearts ad shape our prayers we reflect on this part of Jesus’ suffering tonight.
I C T S
We hear that those trying to land the killer blow of accusation that would sink Jesus forever struggled to do this. Like a scene from some B grade cop show, their stories did not match. They just could not find the one thing that would justify their dismissal of him and his message.
I wonder if this is how it is today too. Those who oppose Jesus and his gospel find it hard to land that killer blow that resigns him and his church to the annuls of a by gone era.
Jesus seems to hand himself to them to help them do their condemning work. When the High Priest asks him if he is the Messiah Jesus finally says, “I am” “I am” – Yahweh – the God of the Old Testament – here in the flesh.
Jesus is innocent. Jesus has loved the world. Jesus has challenged the world – but not to land his own killer blow that would rightly condemn the world. He has spoken and acted to save us from our own delusions and the pain and suffering this causes.
We, the church, are not innocent. We have made mistakes because we are at best forgiven sinners battling with the evil within us and outside of us in an imperfect way.
But Jesus is doing all of this bearing of fierce accusation in his own body to make us holy and innocent before Almighty God who has the power to condemn us all – but doesn’t.
In Jesus he is loving the world, forgiving the world. By the gospel of Jesus we carry, Jesus is loving the world, calling the world, gathering the world into his grace and love.
In the end they settle for one condemnation; one charge. Blasphemy; to claim to be God. Our perennial sin. The humans assuming God’s authority in condemning God’s son with the charge of claiming to be God – ironic!
So often I am only a spectator in this gospel we have received. I am following Jesus at a distance for fear of getting shown up – like Peter did. I end up ashamed and alone – devastated by my lack of faith and courage.
So often I don’t trust that his Word is enough, that his plan is wise, that his call is secure – no matter what may confront me. For my lack of trust and caving in to fear I look to his cross of forgiveness this Easter.
I sense a solidarity with all human beings here. The Jewish leaders were not some isolated group who were particularly evil or hard-hearted. They are all of us and their attempts to dismiss Jesus and get rid of him from their lives is something we all share at some level.
So I plead for forgiveness not just for myself but for all humanity – all the hard=hearted people I know, all those resistant to the grace of God in Christ.
I thank Jesus for going through all this.
I thank Jesus for loving Peter even though he could only be a spectator at this point and not a true disciple as he promised to be just a few hours before.
I thank the Lord that he knows my weakness, my over-reliance on what I can see and what I myself can do, and he still goes to the gallows for me and for all those who are inflicting the harsh words and actions on him.
I thank the Lord that because of his unfailing and unwavering love and commitment to his world, the world still has hope and there is light and life in the world, despite the darkness he knew and we still know.
I thank the Lord for willingly subjecting himself to the worst of us in love for us and that my life and freedom and hope for now and the future is only trustworthy because he did all of this for us and still does and he proclaims himself in our community.
We ask God for his Word of law and gospel to penetrate our hard hearts. We may weep with Peter but there is joy in the empty tomb coming.
We ask that through these 40 days he will enlighten our hearts so that we may know him better.
We ask that he make us more like him in his suffering service to others – courage to take the abuse, to be dismissed, to be further marginalised and even laughed at as Jesus’ disciples, trust that his cross is still at work and his love is divine power for the salvation of all.