And they led Jesus to the high priest. And all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together. 54 And Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he was sitting with the guards and warming himself at the fire. 55 Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. 56 For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. 57 And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying, 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” 59 Yet even about this their testimony did not agree. 60 And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” 61 But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” 62 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.” 63 And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? 64 You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death. 65 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.
66 And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, 67 and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” 68 But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean.” And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed. 69 And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” 70 But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” 71 But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” 72 And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Questions to Consider
1. Briefly review lesson 21 (link above) for context.
2. List the various people and groups named in verses 53-55 who assembled to hear testimony against Jesus. Describe the ideas, people, or positions these people/groups represented, and why each of them might have wanted Jesus killed (55). Consider past interactions Jesus had with them (you might want to review previous lessons to refresh your memory) as well as the religio–political climate of the day.
3. Was the Council (Sanhedrin) seeking honest, accurate testimony about Jesus so they could arrive at a just verdict about Him? (55) What kind of testimony did they receive? (55-57,59) What would the Council’s verdict about Jesus have been if they had not been driven by an agenda and had received honest testimony? (55) Compare verse 58 with John 2:18-22. What did Jesus mean by this statement, and how were the “lie-witnesses” trying to twist His words?
4. In a few sentences, describe the general way Jesus was treated by the Council, witnesses, and others present in verses 53-65. How did Jesus react and respond? (60-62) Why didn’t Jesus defend Himself when verbally (56-60) and physically (65) attacked? What was Jesus’ ultimate mission and how might defending Himself have distracted Himself and others from that mission?
5. Compare the way Jesus was treated in verses 53-65 with these passages. What kind of treatment from unbelievers can followers of Jesus expect? Why? Word of Faith heresy teaches that those who have enough faith will receive wealth, adulation, and success, and that if you experience problems or suffering in your life, it’s because you don’t have enough faith. How does the suffering the perfectly faithful Jesus experienced (and the passages about Jesus’ followers suffering) blow that false teaching out of the water?
6. Jesus said, in Luke 6:45, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” List some of the “evil treasures” (contempt, hatred, etc.) that came out in the words and actions of the “evil people” in verses 53-65. How did Jesus demonstrate the following attributes (and others you might observe) in this passage: longsuffering, love, meekness, mercy, self-control? Read Matthew 5:43-48. How did Jesus “practice what He preached” in verses 53-65?
7. Describe in your own words what’s going on with Peter in this passage. (54, 66-72) Compare this scene with Peter to Jesus’ earlier prophecy about this event in 14:27-31. How does this demonstrate Jesus’ omniscience, deity, and office of Prophet? Observe this fulfilled prophecy in light of what Jesus was ordered to do at the end of verse 65.
8. How does Peter keep physical/geographical distance between himself and Jesus in verses 54, 66, 68? As the moments go by, is Peter getting (physically) closer to Jesus or farther away from Him? How does Peter distance himself relationally from Jesus in verses 68, 70, 71? As the evening passes, is Peter drawing closer to Jesus, relationally, or increasingly distancing himself? How does Peter’s physical proximity to Jesus mirror his relational proximity to Jesus?
9. Considering what was simultaneously happening to Jesus (53-65), why did Peter deny knowing Jesus? What might he have been afraid would happen to him if he admitted being Jesus’ disciple? What went through Peter’s heart and mind when the rooster crowed the second time? (72) Have you ever – maybe more subtly – denied knowing Jesus or hidden the fact that you were a Christian? Why? What were you afraid would happen? Was this a good reason to conceal your relationship with Christ or distance yourself from Him? Have you repented of this?
10. Compare 14:27-31 and 54, 66-72 in light of what Jesus said in 14:38: “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” How was Peter’s spirit willing in the earlier passage and his flesh weak in the latter passage?
11. As Mark is “God’s good news for the Gentiles,” imagine you’re a first century Gentile reading today’s passage. What impression does this passage give you of Peter? The Jewish rulers? The way Jesus responded to persecution and abandonment by His own people? How might the Gentile perception of the way the Jews – including Jesus’ own disciples – treated Jesus at His trials and crucifixion have had an impact on the first century church (made up of both Jews and Gentiles)?
Meditate on the way Jesus responded to persecution and mistreatment in verses 53-65. Recall an incident from your own life in which you were persecuted or mistreated by others. List the ways you responded in the same way Jesus did. List the ways you responded that were not Christlike. Is it always necessary, and godly, to defend yourself against attack?
Suggested Memory Verse
Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Mark 14:38