Jesus on Trial

“Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree” (vv. 55–56).

- Mark 14:53–60

As we study Mark’s account of the last two days of Jesus’ life—the Thursday night of His trial and the Friday of His crucifixion—it may seem that Jesus was a passive actor in these events. He was led away to the high priest (Mark 14:53). He was taken to Pilate (15:1b). He was delivered over to be crucified (v. 15). He was beaten and mocked by the soldiers (vv. 16–20). He was killed by the coordinated Jewish and Roman authorities (vv. 21–39). His body was taken from the cross and buried (vv. 42–47).

That Jesus was in some ways a passive recipient of various actions during His trial and death, however, does not mean that He was not actively superintending all that took place. What occurred in those events occurred to fulfill Scriptures written hundreds of years beforehand (14:49). Those Scriptures were inspired by the Holy Spirit, who with the Father and the Son moved human writers to give us the very words of the triune God. “Men spoke from God,” the triune Creator, when they uttered prophecy (2 Peter 1:21). In other words, the Son of God foretold His own death at the hands of sinners through the Scriptures because He knew it was coming and willed for it to happen. He endured injustice at the hands of sinful men, but He did not suffer because events were beyond His control.

One of the most incredible things about the trial and death of our Lord was His willingness not only to suffer but to suffer the worst injustices ever dealt to a man. In his commentary Mark, Dr. R.C. Sproul writes about Jesus’ trial: “Nearly everything about this hearing went in the face of Jewish law.” According to Mark 14:53–65, Jesus was not a orded any of the due process that first-century Jews followed when trying capital cases. They were not supposed to hold a trial on the eve of a Sabbath or a festival, but Jesus was tried on the eve of Passover. Court proceedings were to occur during the day, in a public place, but Jesus was tried at night, in the private home of the high priest. The capital charges should have been dismissed as soon as it was not possible to find more than one witness to agree on their testimony, but the trial went on even when contradictory testimony was offered. This was a court that did not want the truth.

Yet, that Jesus suffered such injustice from evil men helps us to better appreciate His mercy. He offered atonement for every kind of sin, even our unjust treatment of others. And He will forgive anyone, no matter their sin, when they trust in Him alone.

Coram Deo

Whether any of the authorities who put Jesus on trial ever came to saving faith in Him is uncertain. We do know this: Jesus’ sacrifice is enough to cover even the worst of sins. To receive the benefits of His sacrifice, all that we need to do is turn to Him in faith and repentance. If you are burdened by sin this day, know that the grace of Christ is sufficient to cleanse you no matter what you have done. All you need to do is turn to Him in faith.

Passages for Further Study

Leviticus 19:15b
Deuteronomy 17:6
Matthew 26:57–63a
Luke 23:44–47

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.