Week 3, THE COURTYARD
This Easter we are studying Jesus’ last 24 hours. So we are taking four weeks to talk about: The Last Supper, The Garden, The Courtyard and The Tomb. I will be a powerful way to get to know Jesus better.
Today is The Courtyard. Please open your Bibles to Mark 14:53-72.
Maybe you noticed but I am trying to use a different Gospel each week. So for Week 1 the last Supper, we studied Matthew’s Gospel, for Week 2, the Garden we studied John’s Gospel. And for this Week 3, we are looking at the Gospel of Mark.
We come this morning to the fourteenth chapter and remember we finished last week in the Garden of Gethsemane,
“So the soldiers, their commanding officer, and the Temple guards arrested Jesus and tied him up.” John 18:12
Now we pick up right after that verse in the Courtyard that surrounds the Chief Priest Caiaphas’ house.
I. Jesus’ Trial
53 They took Jesus to the high priest’s home where the leading priests, the elders, and the teachers of religious law had gathered. 54 Meanwhile, Peter followed him at a distance and went right into the high priest’s courtyard. There he sat with the guards, warming himself by the fire.
55 Inside, the leading priests and the entire high council[a] were trying to find evidence against Jesus, so they could put him to death. But they couldn’t find any. 56 Many false witnesses spoke against him, but they contradicted each other. 57 Finally, some men stood up and gave this false testimony: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this Temple made with human hands, and in three days I will build another, made without human hands.’” 59 But even then they didn’t get their stories straight!
60 Then the high priest stood up before the others and asked Jesus, “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?” 61 But Jesus was silent and made no reply. Then the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”
62 Jesus said, “I am.[b] And you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand[c] and coming on the clouds of heaven.[d]”
63 Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror and said, “Why do we need other witnesses? 64 You have all heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?”
“Guilty!” they all cried. “He deserves to die!”
65 Then some of them began to spit at him, and they blindfolded him and beat him with their fists. “Prophesy to us,” they jeered. And the guards slapped him as they took him away.
II. Peter’s Denial
66 Meanwhile, Peter was in the courtyard below. One of the servant girls who worked for the high priest came by 67 and noticed Peter warming himself at the fire. She looked at him closely and said, “You were one of those with Jesus of Nazareth.[e]”
68 But Peter denied it. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, and he went out into the entryway. Just then, a rooster crowed.[f]
69 When the servant girl saw him standing there, she began telling the others, “This man is definitely one of them!” 70 But Peter denied it again.
A little later some of the other bystanders confronted Peter and said, “You must be one of them, because you are a Galilean.”
71 Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know this man you’re talking about!” 72 And immediately the rooster crowed the second time.
Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he broke down and wept.
There are very powerful scriptures. They show the strength of our savior and the weakness of humans. Amazing as it may seem these two stories happen at the same time. They are happening simultaneously. Jesus is inside the house standing Trial and Being Beaten, while Peter is in the Courtyard warming by the fire and betraying His Savior.
The illegalities here are just blatant and consistent. Let’s start with an illegal arraignment, okay? An illegal arraignment…the verdict was in before the procedure began. The decision was made as to what they were going to do with Him, they were going to kill Him. The procedure was formality, looking for some reason to explain why they were killing Him.
I. Jesus’ Trial
A. Illegal Arraignment (53-54)
“They took Jesus to the high priest’s home where the leading priests, the elders, and the teachers of religious law had gathered.” (53)
1. Jesus Taken (the action of arraigning someone in court.)
a. Judas brought The Sanhedrin together in the night
b. They’ve been to the Garden, they have Him under arrest, now there trying to find a reason to execute Him.
It is unthinkable that the Messiah, the Ruler and Sustainer of the universe, should be subjected to trial by mere men, but in the good providence of God, that is what occurred.
Now before we go to the trial in the house of Caiaphas, Mark gives a glimpse of Peter.
B. Peter Located
“Meanwhile, Peter followed him at a distance and went right into the high priest’s courtyard. There he sat with the guards, warming himself by the fire.” (54)
1. Immense curiosity, really good intentions, strong intentions for Christ, “You know I love You…” he says to Him later.
2. But he’s in a dangerous place and he’s Distant. For the moment, Mark just locates Peter, that’s all he does, he just locates him. He’s in the courtyard of the house of Caiaphas, the High Priest, sitting with the officers warming himself at the fire. He’s trying to blend in and stay warm. He’s on the side stage. But, boy, is he in a vulnerable spot
Can I ask a question at this point? Have you ever followed Jesus at distance? Keeping safe distance between Jesus and yourself? Peter was hoping to preserve his life: he didn’t want to be executed with Jesus. Remember this is the same guy who earlier in the evening told Jesus he would follow him to his death.
Jesus is in a large room, Peter outside in the dark courtyard near a fire with Roman guards, temple police and other servants. He’s caught between curiosity and cowardice, isn’t he?
So you have an arraignment, an illegal arraignment, and then it’s followed by a series of illegal testimonies…
B. Illegal Testimony (55-59)
“Inside, the leading priests and the entire high council were trying to find evidence against Jesus, so they could put him to death. But they couldn’t find any.” (55)
1. Looking for Wittnesses, in the middle of the night.
Most likely Bribed to Lie
“Many false witnesses spoke against him, but they contradicted each other.” (56)
They couldn’t find people that would lie. At least they didn’t give any kind of testimony that would be connected to a death penalty. They found some false witnesses but they, while they would do it for the money, were not consistent.
2. The Stories Didn’t Line up
“Finally, some men stood up and gave this false testimony: ‘We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this Temple made with human hands, and in three days I will build another, made without human hands.’’ But even then they didn’t get their stories straight!” (57-59)
Some, it says in verse 57, stood up, began to give false testimony against Him, but verse 59 says, even in this respect, their testimony was not consistent. They had no time to get together. They had not time for collusion. They had no time to meet with people and get the same story. They had no time to plot everything out.
3. No one was seeking witnesses in Defense of Jesus.
I hadn’t though of this until this year. Who is witnessing for Jesus? Who is his defense attorney? Who is on His side? That’s another illegality. Although Jesus said, as we read in John 18, that there is ample testimony about what I have said and what I have done is available. They didn’t want anybody who would defend Jesus. They wanted Him dead in hours.
Still bent on killing Jesus, they will not relent. They will not relent. This is not a trial. This is a conspiracy. They can’t come up with a legitimate crime that they can sell the Romans, so the Romans will execute Him. So you have an illegal arraignment, and illegal testimony, now let’s look at the Illegal interrogation
C. Illegal interrogation (60-61a)
“Then the high priest stood up before the others and asked Jesus, “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?”
This is quite interesting in verse 60. “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?” As if Jesus had any legal duty to respond to liars who, by virtue of their own law should have all been executed.
1. Worthless accusations, no reply necessary.
As if He had some legal duty to respond to bribed false witnesses and liars whose testimony was confused and inconsistent and purely fabrication. These contorted concoctions required no reply from Him. There was nothing to the accusations, therefore there was no reply necessary. Verse 61 says,
“But Jesus was silent and made no reply.” (61a)
He understands the legal order. Isaiah 53:7 says, “He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.”
2. By the way, this must have been deafening silence…deafening silence. And we will read also later in the trial Luke 23 that He was silent before Herod and in John 19 that He was silent before Pilate. And in the deafening silence in this moment before Caiaphas, all they could hear in the room were the reverberations of the false witnesses’ lies, filling the thick air with guilt, the echo of their own evil hatred.
There isn’t…there isn’t a legal aspect to this whole thing. They violate every Law. The arraignment is illegal. The testimony is illegal. The interrogation is illegal. And that leads us to the sentence which is illegal…
D. Illegal Sentence (61b-65)
“Then the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” (61b)
1. The Last Option
What are they left with? The High Priest must make his move.” One option remains. Verse 61, A Big Question from Caiaphas the High Priest…“Again the High Priest was questioning Him and saying to Him, ‘Are You the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the blessed One? Are You the Messiah? Are You the Son of God?’” which they knew to be a title of equality with God, absolute deity.
They are Demanding truth from Christ, While Perpetrating lies against Him.
Matthew 26:63 adds that. ““I demand in the name of the living God—tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
That’s the heaviest oath possible. “I place an oath on You, I adjure You by the living God who hates liars, who punishes liars, tell the truth.” That’s a common Jewish way of laying down one’s serious responsibility to speak the truth. What an amazing paradox that is. They demand truth from Christ, while perpetrating lies against Him.
2. Finally, A Legitimate Question
“Jesus said, ‘I am. And you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.’”(62
a. This is not a “what did You do?” question, this is “who are You?” “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” It is the first legitimate aspect of the proceedings and Jesus knows the intent of the question but He answers any way and the intent of the question is to play the final trump card, the blasphemy card.
b. He answers with the ego eimi, the Yahweh, I AM
And Jesus said, He answers because the question is legitimate, with the ego eimi, the Yahweh, the name of God, I AM.
The Gospel of John has 23 times that Jesus uses the Great I AM. Jesus enhances His answer. It’s not just I AM,
c. To Clarify, He mentions His Place and Position!
He then adds to that answer, “And you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Instead of saying, “I AM, but let Me explain,” and trying to reduce the impact of that, He says, “I AM,” and escalates the reality of it. “Yes I AM the Messiah. Yes I AM the Son of God. And you will see Me sitting at the right hand of power, that is at the right hand of God, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”
He knows these words will bring about His death. He is ready. He has been through the Garden agony and He will do the Father’s will all the way to the cross.
3. The Unjust Sentence (63)
“Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror and said, ‘Why do we need other witnesses? You have all heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?’ ‘Guilty!’ they all cried. ‘He deserves to die!’”(63-65)
a. Then Comes the Verdict. (The Tearing of Clothing)
This is the unjust sentence. Verse 63, “Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror and said, ‘Why do we need other witnesses?”
Jews would tear their garments as an expression of immense grief. It was not allowed, however, for a High Priest to do that. According to Leviticus 21, a High Priest could never do that unless God was blasphemed. And if God was blasphemed, then one would expect the High Priest to do it. He knows that, so he theatrically starts ripping his clothes.
b. No Need for Witnesses, Just a Verdict!
“You have all heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?”
“Guilty!” they all cried. “He deserves to die!” (64)
Caiaphas at this moment calls an end to all the legalities with an illegal sentence. He condemns Jesus blasphemy when he and the Sanhedrin are the blasphemers because Jesus is the Messiah, He is God, He is the one who sits at the right hand of the throne of God and He is the coming King and judge. They are the blasphemers but they render Him the blasphemer.
– No vote.
No hesitation. They are instantly responsive, they all condemned Him to be deserving of death. It is unanimous.
– Everything is illegal.
The arraignment is illegal. The testimony is illegal. The interrogation is illegal and the sentence is illegal. And the decision they make there will be rehearsed in a theatrical way, just after dawn in the morning.
4. They Show their True Attitude
“Then some of them began to spit at him, and they blindfolded him and beat him with their fists. ‘Prophesy to us,’ they jeered. And the guards slapped him as they took him away.” (65)
They all condemned Him to be deserving of death. Now these religious leaders, 24 chief priests, 24 elders, 24 scribes and a High Priest. Spit on Jesus, Blindfold Jesus and Beat Jesus. Then the guards slapped him and took Him away
II. Peter’s Denial (66-72)
Now for the last part of this message, we are going to look at Peter. We want to see what He is doing while His Savior was on Trial. It doesn’t look that good for Peter. He makes historic mistakes. I took the time to try and figure how someone could betray the Messiah they believe it. I came up with 5 points in this story that show the vulnerability of Peter. He boasted too much. He listened too little, prayed too little, acted too fast, and he followed too far.
Let’s look at the story…
A. He Boasted Too Much
“Meanwhile, Peter was in the courtyard below. One of the servant girls who worked for the high priest came by and noticed Peter warming himself at the fire. She looked at him closely and said, ‘You were one of those with Jesus of Nazareth.’ But Peter denied it. ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ he said, and he went out into the entryway. Just then, a rooster crowed.” (66-68)
- ‘Meanwhile…in the Courtyard:” at the same Time
- Servant Girl has Seen Peter
- Peter was a Sinner, Like everyone Else
‘I Don’t Know what your Talking About’ (66)
He had preached with power. He had healed people. He had cast out demons because the Lord had delegated that power to him. What he wasn’t in touch with, what he didn’t really realize was the remaining weakness of his own fallen condition and he was about to learn that in an unforgettable way.
“Even if all Fall Away, I will not” Mark 14:29
B. He Listened Too Little
1. Jesus Had Warned Him of Betrayal
“Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.’” Matthew 26:34
2. But, Peter will not relent on the fact that he is not going to deny the Lord.
C. He Prayed Too Little
“Then he (Jesus) returned and found the disciples asleep. He said to Peter, ‘Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour?’” Mark 14:37
1. When Jesus needed Support the Most, Peter was Asleep!
D. He Acted Too Fast
“And immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: ‘Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.’ And he broke down and wept.” (72)
1. Peter acted in fear, without Thought
This is colossal. This is Peter who said, “To whom shall we go, You and You alone have the words of eternal life.” Who said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:68-69) and the first one was a shock and a surprise, but the next two were pre-meditated responses, not just knee-jerk.
E. He Followed too Far
1. Peter was an amazing Man of God, but it was always when he was with Jesus.
2. It would be have been better for Peter to go in with Jesus into the Trial than to stay alone in the courtyard.
Jesus on trial for two hours from one to three, Peter denial from one to three, they run concurrently. Christ is seen in glorious triumphant, speaking honestly knowing it will cost Him His life. The Sacrificial Christ who is giving His life for His people. Peter is seen as a traitor. A man who denied his Savior. But don’t give up on him. Resurrection and Reconciliation have a way of changing a man.