Jesus on trial

Posted Apr 5, 2021

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Daily Scripture

Note to readers: During Lent Resurrection joins 300 or more other congregations in Kansas City and others in Hong Kong and Ghana in reading the entire gospel of Mark. Take the time to read the whole gospel with us.

To watch a video that covers Mark 15:1-24, click here. (The larger project pre-determined the size of the video segments; hence they do not precisely match the reading assignments.)

Mark 15:1-5

1 At daybreak, the chief priests—with the elders, legal experts, and the whole Sanhedrin—formed a plan. They bound Jesus, led him away, and turned him over to Pilate. 2 Pilate questioned him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Jesus replied, “That’s what you say.” 3 The chief priests were accusing him of many things.

4 Pilate asked him again, “Aren’t you going to answer? What about all these accusations?” 5 But Jesus gave no more answers, so that Pilate marveled.

Reflection Questions

The “Sanhedrin,” the 71-member ruling Hebrew religious court, should have been the most reliable, fair-minded group Jesus could have faced. But in his trial, they weren’t. Connecting verses 2 and 3, it seems clear that when they took Jesus to the Roman procurator, they accused Jesus' of claiming to be “king of the Jews” because that title was most likely to prejudice the Romans against him. As we’ll read Wednesday, that seemed to shape the Roman soldiers’ taunting of Jesus.

  • Procurators were low-level officials, usually sent by the Roman Emperor to minor provinces. The Alexandrian Jewish writer Philo said Pontius Pilate was “a proud and vindictive man [with] a fiery temper, and in describing his administration speaks of ‘the briberies, the insults, the outrages and wanton injuries, the robberies, the executions without trial constantly repeated, the ceaseless and supremely grievous cruelty’ (Philo Leg. Gai. 38 §§302–3).”* Yet Pilate, a political “hack,” marveled that Jesus didn’t grovel before him. What does that tell you about Jesus’ internal strength?
  • In Mark 14:65, we read that in the Sanhedrin, “Some began to spit on him. Some covered his face and hit him, saying, ‘Prophesy!’” These people claimed to be religious leaders, and crafted the charges against Jesus. Have you ever wanted to hurt someone to advance a cause you believe is holy? How can you stand up for what you believe is good without resorting to evil actions (see Romans 12:17-21)?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, your royalty showed during the awful day of your trial and execution as much as in your greatest miracles. Grow in me that same kind of inner reliance on God’s approval. Amen.


* Craig A. Evans and Stanley E. Porter, ed. Dictionary of New Testament Background. Downers Grove, IL: lnterVarsity Press, 2000, p. 983.

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Ginny Howell

Ginny Howell

Ginny Howell serves on the Resurrection staff in Guest Connections. She is mom to three adult daughters and g-momma to one sweet little grandson, Hezakiah.

I used to work in the job placement field and did career coaching for several years. I enjoyed leading workshops for job seekers and found it rewarding to help people make significant changes in their lives. I spent a good deal of my time helping people prepare for job interviews. I worked with a broad spectrum of the professional population, from people looking for very entry-level part-time jobs to those requiring extensive, specific experience and advanced degrees. I had clients with very solid work histories and impeccable references. I also worked with individuals recently released from prison who needed to learn how to use a cell phone or set up an email account because they hadn’t been in the workforce for 20+ years.

People rarely looked forward to job interviews regardless of their skill level, experience, professional or criminal background. If I had offered a workshop called “How to Get a Job Without Interviewing,” every one of my clients would have signed up and showed up for that workshop. As it was, many signed up for job interview workshops, fewer actually attended, and even less really looked forward to them. And the least loved job interview question, regardless of the industry, was almost always the dreaded “Tell me about yourself…”

The answers are usually pretty telling about what someone values and how they view their identity or calculate their worth. Even the most accomplished or highly qualified person can struggle with this question, most often because they do not know when to stop talking. It’s so open-ended (which is why employers keep asking it), many people aren't sure where to wrap it up. People who enjoy talking about themselves can go on and on about different aspects of their life/identity, both professionally and personally. They run the risk of over-sharing, taking the attention away from the key details pertinent to the specific job or employer. People who do not enjoy talking about themselves often ramble, because the anxiety of wondering if they have said enough, or the right thing, leads them to trying to say everything.

When questioned about his identity, Jesus took a different approach. Now he certainly wasn’t applying for work, but his actions, experience and motives were being questioned. Being accused of ‘many things’ (verse 3), I imagine Jesus had more than ample evidence he could have presented eloquently if he'd chosen to do so. But he knew this wasn’t a chance for dialogue. It was an ousting. His actions, attitude and popularity threatened the current establishment. Jesus knew dialogue wasn’t going to change the outcome. It’s human nature to defend yourself against false accusations. Even with an abundance of self-control and perspective on a situation, most of us can’t sit back and remain silent when we know others are out to get us.

It is also human nature to expect a fight when you confront someone with highly charged accusations. Accusers who are not met with resistance often become confused, as Pilate was. He expected Jesus to protest, to address ‘all these’ (verse 4) accusations. In effect, he was inviting Jesus to participate in his own ousting, but Jesus, knowing his purpose and fate, wouldn't do it. This wasn’t a lack of engagement on Jesus’ part, or failure to defend himself. His silence made it clear that he didn’t answer to this authority.

In a society where motives are constantly questioned and values often seem blurry, clarity about where our authority rests can give us peace and remove our need to engage in hostile dialogue or unnecessary arguments. Jesus' example of commitment to purpose shows a divine model of how to remain focused on what is important, even when those around you might be trying to divert your attention. Are there areas in your life where you feel your identity is being/has been challenged? Do you have confidence in your purpose and values enough to avoid accepting the invitation to sabotage your own well-being?

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