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This is lesson 1 of 2 in the Emptied sermonlink series. See also the kids edition of this lesson.

The events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus are well known by many Christians. They have been depicted in art and movies, and they are remembered each year around Easter. However, we need to be careful of becoming too familiar with these last days of Jesus. The danger is that if we aren’t careful, we will lose out on the impact of what these events meant for Jesus and what they mean for us today. The trial of Jesus before the Jewish Sanhedrin is an example of how far Jesus went to bring us back to God.

Jesus experienced an unjust condemnation for us

After Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane, he was taken to the house of the high priest, Caiaphas. There, Jesus was put on trial. This was an illegal trial before the Jewish supreme court. Jesus had no one representing him and the trial went on under the cover of night. The testimony of all of the witnesses was clearly fabricated, and they didn’t confirm each other’s story (Mark 14:55-59). This was just one of several trials that Jesus faced. And it shows us that in this moment Satan was his strongest in trying to destroy Jesus.

Luke 22:53 Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there every day. But this is your moment, the time when the power of darkness reigns.

Jesus went through this period of darkness for us to save us from our sins.

[Related: Who Is Jesus?]

Jesus refused to defend himself

The high priest and the others in attendance accused Jesus over and over again. Jesus was innocent. He had done nothing wrong. But he refused to answer the charges of those around him.

Mark 14:61 But Jesus was silent and made no reply.

By refusing to answer those who accused him, Jesus fulfilled his role of God’s suffering servant (Isaiah 53:7). Jesus realized that his fate wasn’t in the hands of this court or any other court, but it was in the hands of God. Jesus felt secure in his relationship with the Father and the mission that he had been called to complete. Nothing would throw him off this journey.

Jesus shows us who he really is

Although Jesus refused to answer his accusers, he didn’t remain completely silent throughout the whole trial. Finally, the high priest asked him if he was the Messiah, the one who would come to rescue Israel.

Mark 14:62 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. ”

Jesus replied that he is God. He is the one who has come to rescue his people. He claimed for himself the role of Messiah by referencing Daniel 7:13-14. This passage shows a vision of the Son of Man coming to rule over the nations. And by this statement Jesus lets everyone know that he is the Messiah. But there was a lot of confusion over the Messiah in Jesus’ day. Jesus was telling the people that he would also come back to rule the nations and judge those who rejected him.

[Related: An Explanation of the Messiah]

Every person wants to pass judgment on God

Many of us are probably familiar with what happens next. In mock sorrow, the high priest tore his clothes and the court gave their verdict. They found Jesus guilty of blasphemy and deserving of death.

Mark 14:63-65 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!” 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.

It would be easy for us to condemn the Sanhedrin for their rejection of Jesus. Yet, their actions mirror our own actions before God. The council passes judgment on Jesus. They pass judgment on God. We pass judgment on God too. We hurl insults at God when we don’t like what he has to say. We fight against him. We reject his authority. When we understand this, we realize that all of us are responsible for sending Jesus to the cross. And Jesus knew this, but he went to the cross anyway for us.

[Related: Why God Became Human]

Discussion Questions:

  1. Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
  3. How do you feel when you hear about a story of injustice? Give an example.
  4. Read Mark 14:55-59. List some of the ways that Jesus’ trial was unjust.
  5. Why do you think God had Jesus go through several public trials?
  6. Read Mark 14:60-61. Why do you think it was important for Jesus to be silent throughout most of his trial? What does this reveal to us about Jesus?
  7. Read Mark 14:63. What does Jesus say about himself in these words? Read Daniel 7:13-14. How does this help us understand Jesus’ meaning?
  8. Read Mark 14:63-65. Why do the high priest and the council react so violently against Jesus?
  9. How do you see yourself in the person of the high priest?
  10. What are some ways that we pass judgment on God?
  11. How do you feel about Jesus after studying this story?
  12. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

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