Holy God, I come to you now with an open heart. Forgive my pride and insecurities, my self-absorption and self-destruction. Forgive my doubts, and my self-confidence. Help me to live more fully in the strength of your confidence, your hope, your love, and your power. Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me, as I look to your word today for instruction, encouragement, correction, and guidance.
Today we’re going to look again at the second portion of Mark 14:53-65, focusing today on verses 60-65:
And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am, andyou will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, andcoming with the clouds of heaven.” And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him asdeserving death. And some began to spit on him and to cover his face and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” And the guards received himwith blows. (ESV)
As I’ve been digging into Mark 14 lately, I have focused a lot on Jesus’s suffering and the shame he endured as he made his way to the cross. Reading and really contemplating the circumstances surrounding him—praying as his disciples dozed nearby, carrying around in his heart the full knowledge that all of his closest friends would abandon him, crying out to God his Father for deliverance while knowing that deliverance would not come, being hunted and captured like a criminal, being beaten and having false accusations, fabricated charges, and flat-out lies hurled at him mercilessly—I have identified and empathized with Jesus the Man.
Vulnerable. Innocent. Grieving. Even fearful, perhaps, of what was to come, yet exemplary in taking that fear to God in prayer, fully relying on God’s strength to get him through.
Yet in today’s passage I am brought swiftly and decisively back to the fact of Jesus as more than just a man. I am brought to verse 62—already highlighted in my Bible because of the red letters, where Jesus speaks. “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” the high priest asked. “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”
As my friend Debra would say, BOOM.
Standing in the chaos and injustice surrounding him, Jesus knows who he is and where he is ultimately going. Even with all that is to come—and there is much more suffering ahead of him at this point—Jesus has full confidence in who he is and what God has promised he will do.
Something that strikes me as I read through these verses over and over this morning is that Jesus never once even hints at asking his captors for mercy. He knows that, ultimately, it is not in their power to kill or spare him. He is there at the will of God.
This is very hard for many people to accept. We want to say this happened to Jesus because of the evil of humankind, and while humankind’s evil hearts were the tools for bringing about Christ’s crucifixion, and we are fully culpable for our evil hearts, scripture tells us that this whole thing is happening because of the will of God. The high priests and pharisees and elders and scribes were all just tools.
Isaiah 53 gives us a lens—a clarification—for understanding what is happening here:
“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all… (vv 4-6)”
“Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” (v 10)
Jesus did ask for mercy, back when he prayed in the garden. He asked the One who was truly in control for mercy, and then he surrendered to God’s will. Because of this, he never even hints as asking any men for mercy. He accepts God’s will, as difficult as it is, and submits to it.
One more passage that helps us to better understand this is John 19. In that passage, Pilate is asking Jesus to make a defense for himself, but Jesus refuses to take the bait. “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above…”
Jesus knows who he is, who is in control, and why he is there. And bolstered by prayer, fully submitted to the will of God, Jesus sets his heart on the higher truth than what is immediately before him: he is the Christ, the Son of God, and once the temporary suffering has passed, he will rise, victorious, and everyone will see “the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” His confidence is fully in the will of God and the eternal significance of his temporary suffering.
As I consider this application for my own life, there are many things that come to my mind. But today I will share only one of them.
When I face suffering of any kind, can I follow Jesus’s example and endure it with grace and confidence? Am I so sure, as Jesus was, of the hope of God’s eternal kingdom that I can take the temporary suffering of life—whether emotional or physical—and remain hopeful?
My friend David endured two years of excruciating pain and suffering as he fought his battle with cancer. His battle ended in April, when he died to this life and entered the eternal life in Christ. David endured his cancer fight with incredible faith. He was honest about his sorrow at leaving behind his wife and their four young children. He did not try to hide the fact that his physical and emotional pain were, at times, excruciating.
But he never waivered from the hope of heaven. “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” was a favorite prayer of his, which his wife read beautifully at his memorial service.
“Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me. I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, through belief in the Threeness, through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation.”
Can I identify so deeply with Christ’s confidence that I endure whatever befalls me with the full hope of God’s eternal plan and eternal joy? This is only possible when we can look at Jesus’s words in Mark 14:62 and know that, because these words are true, we who put our faith in Christ likewise have hope to endure anything this world can throw at us. “I am [the Christ, the Son of the Blessed], and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Dear friends, this is our hope. This is the hinge on which all of creation hangs. Our hope is in the Christ, whose invites us to, by faith, be received with him into his power and his resurrection, causing anything we might suffer in this life to pale by comparison.
My prayer is that this truth will grip our hearts and drive us to love deeply (as Christ loved us), to suffer willingly (if it be the will of God), and to worship fully whether we are in seasons of great joy or seasons of deep suffering.
Because who Christ is makes it possible for us to have a hope that is eternal.