Monday, November 12, 2018

Devotional: Facing Our Own Inadequacy: Mark 14:53-72

Mark 14.53-72 outline

The rest of chapter 14 looks at Jesus’ trial before the Jewish Sanhedrin. Mark frames the trial within an account of Peter’s “trial” before the servants of the high priest to contrast Jesus’ faithful response to Peter’s denial and cursing of Jesus. Jesus is seen to be much more (Son of God, Messiah, the Son of Man who shares power with YHWH) than anyone expected, while Peter and the Jewish leaders have their inadequacies, blasphemies and evil exposed. Peter’s pledges of fidelity to Jesus are revealed as empty boasts and the Jewish leadership is exposed as self-righteous, selfish power-seekers. The only difference between Peter and those that punched and insulted Jesus is that Peter, when he came face to face with his own inadequacy, recognized what he had done and broke down in tears.

The big issue in Jesus trial is his identity. The Sanhedrin cannot get their false witnesses to agree on the charges they they want to bring, temple destruction, so they focus in on Jesus’ claims to be the Messiah. Ironically, God will allow the temple to be destroyed because these very leaders failed to recognize who Jesus was. At the trial, for the first time, Jesus publicly reveals himself as the Messiah, but he expands that idea far beyond what they were expecting. He knew here that their wrong, shortsighted views of what a Messiah should do would lead to the cross and accomplish God’s real plan to save the world.

This highlights the issue we all face when we are confronted with the claims of Jesus: Who is He? The Jewish leaders inadequate view of Jesus led them to oppose him, which destroyed the nation. Peter’s inadequate view of Jesus led him to rely on his own strength and deny Jesus. The other disciples were no different as they dispersed and abandoned Jesus. It is easy to understand why they saw Jesus this way. Jesus’ claim to be equal with YHWH is a big claim and went way beyond what everyone expected the Messiah to be. Perhaps the disciples should have seen it after three years living with Jesus, but God had a bigger evidence in store for them. Jesus had predicted that his claim would be verified when he rose from the dead. It was only when the disciples saw Jesus for who he really was that they would be able to see accurately their own needs and find them met in Jesus.

The main reason that we fail to see ourselves accurately is that we fail to see Jesus accurately. We are not adequate to be what we are created to be without that intimate contact and relationship with God. Jesus is the one who provides that. He is the temple, built without hands, where we meet God. Peter came face to face with his own inability at that trial in the courtyard and walked away broken and hopeless. Thankfully, Jesus is more than Peter thought. The risen Jesus would restore Peter and make him part of the apostolic foundation of the church. Like him, Jesus forces us to admit our own inadequacy. But, also like with Peter, Jesus still lives to forgive, even the one that cursed him, and enables a life that goes beyond what is humanly possible. We can’t. But he always can.

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