April 5, 2023 | Laura Nelson
About the author: Laura and her husband Todd have been attending ZPC regularly since 2011. They were initially drawn to ZPC by the energy in the children’s ministries and their two children, Bryce (age 14) and Jordan (age 12), have been truly blessed to be covenant children at ZPC. Laura enjoys serving as a current elder, in the Middle School Ministry, and with Great Banquet. She cherish spending time with her family hiking, boating, camping, or creating with her latest arts and craft project.
43 Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.
44 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” 45 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46 The men seized Jesus and arrested him. 47 Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
48 “Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” 50 Then everyone deserted him and fled.
51 A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, 52 he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.
Jesus Before the Sanhedrin
53 They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together. 54 Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.
55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. 56 Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.
57 Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’” 59 Yet even then their testimony did not agree.
60 Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 61 But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.
Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”
62 “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
63 The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. 64 “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”
They all condemned him as worthy of death. 65 Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.
This passage begins with Jesus’ betrayal. Jesus has been praying in the garden of Gethsemane while his disciples were to be keeping watch. Judas approaches with an armed crowd, and greets Jesus saying “Rabbi,” kissing him to identifying him to the mob. This is a great pivoting moment — we see Judas give up his identity as a follower of Jesus, and we see Jesus’ identity as "I AM" be solidified.
How often are we faced with such pivotal moments? Do we forfeit our identity in Christ, or do we hold fast to knowing “I AM”?
We live in a world that tempts us to give up our identity in Christ to lessen our consequences, our exclusions, or our hardships. How do we measure up? It’s easy to think of Judas as the exception, the weak one who gave up Jesus for the allure of the world — until we think through our last day. How’d we do staying true to Jesus when we were stuck in rush hour traffic, when the office chatter made the turn towards gossip, when the time perusing our news feed was greater than Bible study, or when we looked at someone as the world sees them and not how God sees them? It turns out that I have more “Judas moments” than I’d like.
In contrast to our fickleness, our brokenness, and our weakness is Jesus who is steadfast and strong. When rejected by Judas and confronted by an angry mob, Jesus did not put up a fight or protest, but remained true to his purpose. When Jesus was falsely accused in front of the Sanhedrin, he was steady, accepting what was to come.
This passage in Mark is a great reminder that Jesus’ identity will not change when we betray him. Yet, our identity changes when we pivot away from Christ in sin. I can picture myself on a pivot, with each thought and action either turning me toward Christ, or turning me away from him. Thankfully, I know I can pull on Jesus’ unwavering strength and love to pivot me back toward him whenever I have one of my “Judas moments.” Holding fast to Jesus’ identity as our Redeemer, acknowledging that he is “the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One,” promises us that we will indeed “see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One” (v61-62).
Dear Heavenly Father, our strength, and our hope,
Thank you Lord for scripture that reminds us that you are steadfast in your love for us. As we near Easter, Lord help us to pivot towards you. Strengthen us to know that our identity is in the Great "I AM" and not in the world that tempts us with lies. Open our hearts to see how you continue to redeem us each and every day.
In Christ’s name,