Monday, 2 April 2012

Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin: The Third Station

Third Station: Jesus condemned by the Sanhedrin

55 The chief priests and the whole Council tried to find some evidence against Jesus in order to put him to death, but they could not find any.56 Many witnesses told lies against Jesus, but their stories did not agree.

 57 Then some men stood up and told this lie against Jesus:58

We heard him say,
I will tear down this Temple which men have made, and after three days I will build one that is not made by men.59 Not even they, however, could make their stories agree.

 60 The High Priest stood up in front of them all and questioned Jesus,

Have you no answer to the accusation they bring against you?

 61 But Jesus kept quiet and would not say a word. Again the High Priest questioned him,

         Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed God?
I am, answered Jesus,
 and you will all see the Son of Man seated at the right side of the Almighty and coming with the clouds of heaven!

 63 The High Priest tore his robes and said,

         We don't need any more witnesses!64 You heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?
   They all voted against him: he was guilty and should be put to death. [Mark 14.55-64]

We are all familiar with the injustice of Jesus’ trial: his assumed guilt was a foregone conclusion in the minds of his accusers, so all they had to do was to pile criticism upon criticism until it turned into a case in their minds. Much more convenient than simply saying, ‘Let’s just murder him; that way he’ll never cause trouble again.’

What’s more difficult is to work out what Jesus might have been thinking. None of us is content simply to stand by and take false accusation after false accusation. But in Jesus’ case, he knew that this was God’s will, the journey of redemption, the task for which he had come into this world. I can’t really believe, however, that he simply stood there and thought, ‘This is all going my way.’

Rather, I guess that he was deeply weighed down by the injustice of it all, but the greatest weight was the sense that he was carrying the injustice on behalf of all whom he loved; that he was beginning to be ‘bruised for our transgressions.’ So the inner battle was a twofold one, against the human desire to be rid of pain, whether physical or psychological, and against the weight of ‘the sins of the whole world’. I have a vivid word picture of Jesus standing there, sin upon sin being piled upon him until his whole being shakes under the pressure, and still he stands.

Two more things: none of these people had a clue what he was doing, and it must have been the  loneliest place in the world. We, who mostly need someone to hold our hands in order to bear the simplest pain, watch him whose hand no one held. And last for now, what did it cost him to find the strength to go on proclaiming the truth of his vocation: I am the Messiah, and you will all see the Son of Man…

Lord Jesus, you were the victim of religious bigotry:
be with those who are persecuted by small-minded authority.
You faced the condemnation of fearful hearts:
deepen the understanding of those who shut themselves off from the
experience and wisdom of others.
To you, Jesus, unjustly judged victim,
be honour and glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
now and for ever.

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