Accused, Blasphemed, Denied: Mark 14:53–72

If I said to you that God can relate to you when you feel abandoned, falsely accused, misunderstood, attacked, and denied, would you tell me that God is God and it is impossible for him to relate to these feelings precisely because he has all power, all knowledge, and all authority?

Is there any way you can imagine God being able to experience the loneliness, the hurt, the vulnerability, and the disappointment of being treated in these ways? How can we relate to God, omnipotent and unassailable, perfect and invincible? Is it possible for God to know what we feel when we are lonely, vulnerable, wrongly-accused, and betrayed? Yes, God is all knowing and all powerful, but can he know what we feel? Can God relate to us?

Jesus can relate to us. Jesus can relate to us in our loneliness, our abandonment, our sense that we are condemned for believing and speaking the truth, and our experience of being betrayed by those who ought to be loyal to us.

Mark 14:53–72 is full of impossibilities. We should not become so familiar with it that we cease to feel its shock value: How could it be possible that Israel would reject its Messiah? How could it be possible that the High Priest of Israel, who himself symbolizes the true mediator between God and man, would accuse the one he represents of blasphemy? How could justice be perverted to the point of Jesus being condemned to death? How could Peter, the boldest of the disciples, deny Jesus? How could these things possibly happen?

The Jewish leadership means to kill Jesus. They mean to kill the best man who has ever lived, the only man ever to live without sin, the incarnation of the everlasting God, the healer of the sick, feeder of the hungry, giver of life, epitome of love, teller of truth, hope of the world, King of kings, Lord of all. Their response to him is to want him dead.

Mark has done such a good job of telling the story that we understand why they want to kill him. They do not believe that he is the Messiah. He has not met their expectations. They love themselves.

When the High Priest asks Jesus if he is the Messiah, Jesus turns the tables in his reply: as Jesus answers, he shows that he is the one in charge. The reality is not what it seems. He is not the one on trial. Though the High Priest and those accusing Jesus think they have him on trial, in reality they are on trial. In reality their choices and actions will determine their destiny when they come before the world’s righteous Judge.

Jesus makes three offensive statements.

1)    I Am

2)    Psalm 110:1

3)    Daniel 7:13

Here he asserts that he is Lord, that he is the descendant of David, that he is the Son of Man who will receive everlasting dominion.

After Jesus is falsely accused and blasphemed, Peter denies him.

Have you been in a position where you wanted to do the right thing, and you simply broke? You hoped to have backbone, you hoped to have courage screwed to the sticking place, you meant to be the hero, and you quailed, played the part of the coward, and found yourself denying what was most precious to you?

The evil is so large, so black, so powerful that only Jesus can stand before it. It crushed him and killed him, but he did not quail. Because he did not flinch in the face of evil, the last defense against evil held. Jesus broke its back. Jesus overcame evil.

If you do not side with Jesus, when he comes on the clouds of heaven, he will condemn you in an awesome display of almighty justice. Your condemnation will be right, and God will be as faithful to you then as he is being faithful to you now.

If you say to me: how can he receive me. I’m such a failure. Look at what Peter does here. Peter knows that he has betrayed the one who is trustworthy. Peter knows that he has denied the one worthy of his allegiance. Peter knows that Jesus stood alone and that he abandoned him. And Peter feels the crushing weight of his sin, and weeps.

Let me invite you to consider how good God has been to you, how magnificent God’s creation is, how privileged you are to be a human being made in the image of God.

And in light of the gifts God has given to you, let me invite you to consider how ungrateful you have been, how presumptuous, how proud, how perverse, how complaining, how defiled and profane.

Weep over it. It’s ugly.

But oh, sweet the sound of the Savior’s love!
Low we were, in woe and shame, without hope,
And then he came, from on high, from above,
And took our sin and shame in fullest scope

On Sunday, July 24, it was my privilege to preach Mark 14:53–72, “Accused, Blasphemed, Denied” at Kenwood Baptist Church.

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