Daily Gospel Reflection - 29 August 2011
Mark 14.53-65 CEB: They led Jesus away to the high priest, and all the chief priests, elders, and legal experts gathered. Peter followed him from a distance, right into the high priest’s courtyard. He was sitting with the guards, warming himself by the fire. The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for testimony against Jesus in order to put him to death, but they couldn’t find any. Many brought false testimony against him, but they contradicted each other. Some stood to offer false witness against him, saying, “We heard him saying, ‘I will destroy this temple, constructed by humans, and within three days I will build another, one not made by humans’.” But their testimonies didn’t agree even on this point.
Then the high priest stood up in the middle of the gathering and examined Jesus. “Aren’t you going to respond to the testimony these people have brought against you?” But Jesus was silent and didn’t answer. Again, the high priest asked, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the blessed one?”
Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Human One sitting on the right side of the Almighty and coming on the heavenly clouds.”
Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “Why do we need any more witnesses? You’ve heard his insult against God. What do you think?”
They all condemned him. “He deserves to die!”
Some began to spit on him. Some covered his face and hit him, saying, “Prophesy!” Then the guards took him and beat him.
Sometimes, we just want our way. No matter what. Even if that means that we have to exaggerate a little bit to make ourselves look better, we’ll do it. And some of us, if pressed, will even create an entire lie to get what we want.
In this passage, the ‘Jewish opposition’ (see previous post) wants Jesus dead. They have been planning it for quite a while. They were looking for any excuse. They even brought in a bunch of ‘witnesses’ to make false accusations. When even those didn’t work, they finally got him to admit that he was the Messiah (Christ in Greek) and sitting in the place of power with God. That was plenty for them to justify their own desires.
Apparently, Jesus didn’t seem to know a lot about the court system. Even today, you just answer the question - you don’t give more than you need. ‘Let your “yes” mean “yes” and your “no” mean “no”,’ as the saying goes (Matthew 5.37 CEB). Maybe, if he had just done that, he might have made it out alive. But that wasn’t the goal. The goal was to ‘drink the cup’ he was supposed to drink. Maybe he was wanting to get this over with as soon as possible. No sense in dragging it out for longer than it need to take.
The part that gets me the most, however, is the last paragraph: ‘Some began to spit on him. Some covered his face and hit him, saying, “Prophesy!” Then the guards too him and beat him.’ This is really harsh. As we know from history, Rome, in general, seemed to have great enjoyment in torture and violence. No doubt the guards did her, too. But it’s the part about trying to get him to prophesy that bothers me. I mean, I don’t doubt for a moment that Jesus knew full well who it was that struck him. With each blow, an image of the guards face, with their mocking cruel smile, must have flashed before his eyes. And his heart ached with compassion and forgiveness.
How often do we slap Jesus across the face with wanting to do things our way? How often do we mock him by demanding our wants and desires at his expense? Or, when Jesus wants us to go with him in a new or different direction, how often do we refuse? This is where I fall a lot of the time. I see what Christ is wanting to do in me or through me, but I don’t want to do it. I refuse. I look for any excuse I can so that I won’t have to follow him. It reminds me of the Charlie Peacock song, ‘Into the Light’: ‘I’m the king of excuses, I’ve got one for every selfish thing I do.’
Dear God, help us to follow the Wild Goose, your blessed Holy Spirit, where ever we are led, knowing that you walk before us, behind us, below us, above us, and with us. Help us not to crucify Jesus, your Child, all over again, but ourselves instead. Help us to be like him and do your will. Amen.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br Jack+, LC