Mark 14:53-65 – Jesus: The Christ of the Cross

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at the Book of Mark one individual passage at a time. But now let’s zoom out and look at this book as a whole. If the Gospel of Mark were a Netflix documentary series, it would be divided into three seasons:

Season 1: The first season begins with: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (1:1). Mark’s purpose in writing is to portray Jesus, His teaching and His ministry in such a way that you will understand that He is the Christ – the long-awaited Messiah who would free God’s people from their sins and establish an eternal kingdom.

Season 2: The next season begins with Jesus asking His disciples why crowds of people were following Him and who they thought He was (8:28-29a). And Peter answers Him correctly saying, “You are the Christ” (v. 29b). From this moment on, Jesus’ ministry changes – He starts to point the disciples forward to His death and resurrection. He also keeps His identity as the Christ from becoming public.

Season 3: The final season of Mark starts in chapter 11 with Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Here we see the crowds cheering Him on and thinking that maybe He is the Christ. Still, though, they don’t understand what being the Christ will mean.

Today we begin in Mark 14:53, just after Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested.

Jesus Before the High Priest

“And they led Jesus away to the high priest. And all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together … Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none.”

– vv. 53-55

Jesus’ enemies are working hard to find a way to convict Jesus to death, but they can’t find anything because He’s innocent. Some try to bear false witness about Him, but there isn’t enough substantive evidence to incriminate Him (vv. 56-59). Then, in verse 61, we get to the most important part of the passage:

[T]he high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

Up until this point, Jesus kind of kept it secret that He was the Christ. Why does He reveal Himself now? Well, from the rest of the Book of Mark, it seems Jesus is now free to admit that He is the Christ without anyone misunderstanding what it means.

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The crowds were following Jesus not because they wanted the actual Christ – the Christ who would die for their sins so that they could be forgiven and reconciled to God. They wanted the Christ who made miracle bread and wine to feed everyone, who did miraculous signs, who healed sick people and created a great spectacle. They liked that Christ. But they weren’t interested in the true Christ.

Jesus didn’t want everybody to gather around a false idea and keep Him from getting to the essential step of being the Christ: the cross. In front of the high priest, though, He is headed toward the cross and is now free to say who He is.

Jesus is the Christ

Not only does Jesus declare that He is the Christ, He also says that “you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” This hearkens back to the Old Testament prophecies in Psalm 110:1 and Daniel 7:13-14. He basically tells the high priest that He is the Christ, and that he will one day see Him seated beside God and coming with divine power, authority and judgment.

That statement shocks everyone.

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 as deserving 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 him with blows.”

– vv. 63-65

They have what they needed, and they got it from Jesus Himself. He claimed to be the Christ, the Son of God. They call it blasphemy, and swallow Him up in abuse and mockery.

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Jesus is the Christ, Therefore …

There are many things we can take from this. But here is one reminder with many implications: Jesus is the Christ. That’s who He is. We’re not free to make believe that Jesus is anything other than the long-awaited Savior-King who would free God’s people from their sins and establish an eternal kingdom.

Jesus came to solve our number one problem: sin. Nothing and no one else can solve this problem. Peter wrote, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).

There are many who can’t see Jesus for who He is. They might be like the crowd in Mark who heard things about Him or tried to mold Him into a Christ of material comforts in this world, but that’s not who He is. Or they might be like the high priest: so close to Jesus, but unable to recognize Him (see Matthew 7:21-23).

Jesus is the Christ, and He is coming back. Therefore, let’s renew our faith in Jesus as the Christ. Let’s refocus our lives on following Him personally. Let’s repent of our sins and receive His forgiveness and cleansing. And let’s pray for those who don’t know Jesus as the Christ.

Discussion Starters

  • Why do you think Jesus kept His identity as the Christ hidden until He answered the high priest in Mark 14:61?
  • Why was Jesus’ answer so shocking?
  • What does it mean for Jesus to be the Christ?
  • Why is that important?
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