Tag Archives: guards

THE GOSPEL OF MARK – GUILTY BUT NOT GUILTY

GUILTY BUT NOT GUILTY

53 They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together. 54 Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.
55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. 56 Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.
57 Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’” 59 Yet even then their testimony did not agree.
60 Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 61 But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.
Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”
62 “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
63 The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. 64 “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”
They all condemned him as worthy of death. 65 Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him. Mark 14:53-65

Peter is such a lovable character; larger than life, always in the thick of things, always willing to stick his neck out, first to try anything new! He fled with the rest of the disciples but he was soon back among the servants, trying to appear anonymous but desperate to find out what they were doing with Jesus. Where were the others? Probably hiding somewhere, waiting for Peter to come back to tell them what was going on.

Meanwhile the court had assembled and the trial began. What a fiasco! According to the Jewish High Court, Jesus had already been found guilty. Now they had to dig up legitimate charges against Him to make their verdict stick so that they could pass sentence and dispatch their “thorn in the flesh”. But it wasn’t that easy. What charge could they lay against Him that would be punishable by death? Their hatred of His flawless life and His exposure of their hypocrisy by contrast, was no legal reason to have Him executed.

They tried the “pulling down the Temple and rebuilding it in three days” one but that was a pathetic charge. Jesus didn’t even bother to respond. Then the High Priest tried his biggest weapon – a charge of blasphemy. He was elated when Jesus responded in the affirmative. “Yes, I am.” What more did they need? He had condemned Himself.

But this is where their whole justice system went horribly wrong. They assumed that Jesus was claiming to be what His life did not confirm.  All their witnesses were hostile. Did they genuinely desire to find out the truth? No! Where were the disciples who could bear witness to what they had seen and heard? Where were the crowds who had listened to His teaching, eaten the miraculous meals He had provided and received a fresh start in life because they had been forgiven and healed? In this company Jesus had no chance.

But they still had a problem. How could a charge of blasphemy get past Pilate? He had no interest in their religious quarrels. It had to be something political.

Strangely enough, the charges they eventually laid against Him were actually true, confirmed by His own mouth. He said he was the Son of God – blasphemy, if it were not true. He said He was the King of Israel – treason, if it were not true but…the Sanhedrin made no attempt to test the evidence. Guilty from their perspective? Yes, but guilty from God’s perspective? No! And three days later He would prove it.

 

THE BOOK OF ACTS – WHILE THE CHURCH PRAYED

WHILE THE CHURCH PRAYED

“Then the time came for Herod to bring him out for the kill. That night, even though shackled to two soldiers, one on either side, Peter slept like a baby. And there were guards at the door keeping their eyes on the place. Herod was taking no chances!

“Suddenly there was an angel at his side and light flooding the room. The angel shook Peter and got him up: ‘Hurry!’ The handcuffs fell off his wrists. The angel said, ‘Get dressed. Put on your shoes.’ Peter did it. Then, ‘Grab your coat and let’s get out of here.’ Peter followed him but didn’t really believe it was an angel — he thought he was dreaming.” Acts 12:6- 9 The Message).

While the church prayed, God was up to something! There were a few unusual things about this scenario. Firstly, Peter was on the eve of possible execution yet he was asleep and the guards were awake. Shouldn’t he have been awake, given the circumstances, tossing and turning with anxiety about his fate on the morrow? What does that say about Peter’s state of mind?

Was he, like Paul in similar circumstances later on, at perfect peace knowing that God was in charge? Whether he lived or died was not the issue. To live was Christ and to die was gain. That tells us a whole lot about Christ’s victory on the cross. “Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” Hebrews 2:14-15 (NIV).

While Peter slept, the church prayed. The guards were watching; the church was praying; and God was working! He dispatched an angel and set the ball rolling for an amazing rescue. The prison cell was ablaze with light, yet the guards saw nothing. The angel woke Peter and spoke to him; his shackles clanked to the ground — yet the guards heard nothing. Were they blind and deaf?

Peter responded like a sleepwalker — no questions, no protests. Like a robot he got up, put on his clothes and shoes at the angel’s command and followed him out of the prison cell while the soldiers kept on guarding him! He thought he was dreaming — wouldn’t you?

Even though he had slept like a baby, what was going on in his subconscious mind that would trigger dreams? In the natural, he would probably have been morbidly dwelling on the outcome of tomorrow. Nightmares, not dreams, should have plagued his sleep. But he didn’t. Instead, he thought he was having a pleasant dream about being rescued.

“Past the first guard and then the second, they came to the iron gate that led into the city. It swung open before them on its own and they were out on the street, free as a breeze. At the first intersection the angel left him, going his own way. That’s when Peter realised it was no dream. ‘I can’t believe it — this really happened! The Master sent His angel and rescued me from Herod’s little production and the spectacle the Jewish mob was looking forward to.'” Acts 12:10-11 (The Message).

While the guards continued to watch, Peter and the angel slipped quietly out of the prison, locked doors and gates opening and closing for them, and neither guards nor prisoners stirred. Only when the cold night air touched his face did Peter realise that this was no dream. He really was free! God had miraculously thwarted Herod’s little macabre entertainment and left a whole group of soldiers with egg on their faces.

It is God’s way to partner with His people in getting His will done on earth. John Wesley said, “God does nothing but in answer to prayer.” The church in Jerusalem did not need to be made aware of Peter’s situation. They prayed and God acted. And that’s how God still administers His will on earth today.

While The Church Prayed

WHILE THE CHURCH PRAYED

“Then the time came for Herod to bring him out for the kill. That night, even though shackled to two soldiers, one on either side, Peter slept like a baby. And there were guards at the door keeping their eyes on the place. Herod was taking no chances!

“Suddenly there was an angel at his side and light flooding the room. The angel shook Peter and got him up: ‘Hurry!’ The handcuffs fell off his wrists. The angel said, ‘Get dressed. Put on your shoes.’ Peter did it. Then, ‘Grab your coat and let’s get out of here.’ Peter followed him but didn’t really believe it was an angel — he thought he was dreaming.” Acts 12:6- 9 The Message).

While the church prayed, God was up to something! There were a few unusual things about this scenario. Firstly, Peter was on the eve of possible execution yet he was asleep and the guards were awake. Shouldn’t he have been awake, given the circumstances, tossing and turning with anxiety about his fate on the morrow? What does that say about Peter’s state of mind?

Was he, like Paul in similar circumstances later on, at perfect peace knowing that God was in charge? Whether he lived or died was not the issue. To live was Christ and to die was gain. That tells us a whole lot about Christ’s victory on the cross. “Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” Hebrews 2:14-15 (NIV).

While Peter slept, the church prayed. The guards were watching; the church was praying; and God was working! He dispatched an angel and set the ball rolling for an amazing rescue. The prison cell was ablaze with light, yet the guards saw nothing. The angel woke Peter and spoke to him; his shackles clanked to the ground — yet the guards heard nothing. Were they blind and deaf?

Peter responded like a sleepwalker — no questions, no protests. Like a robot he got up, put on his clothes and shoes at the angel’s command and followed him out of the prison cell while the soldiers kept on guarding him! He thought he was dreaming — wouldn’t you?

Even though he had slept like a baby, what was going on in his subconscious mind that would trigger dreams? In the natural, he would probably have been morbidly dwelling on the outcome of tomorrow. Nightmares, not dreams, should have plagued his sleep. But he didn’t. Instead, he thought he was having a pleasant dream about being rescued.

“Past the first guard and then the second, they came to the iron gate that led into the city. It swung open before them on its own and they were out on the street, free as a breeze. At the first intersection the angel left him, going his own way. That’s when Peter realised it was no dream. ‘I can’t believe it — this really happened! The Master sent His angel and rescued me from Herod’s little production and the spectacle the Jewish mob was looking forward to.'” Acts 12:10-11 (The Message).

While the guards continued to watch, Peter and the angel slipped quietly out of the prison, locked doors and gates opening and closing for them, and neither guards nor prisoners stirred. Only when the cold night air touched his face did Peter realise that this was no dream. He really was free! God had miraculously thwarted Herod’s little macabre entertainment and left a whole group of soldiers with egg on their faces.

It is God’s way to partner with His people in getting His will done on earth. John Wesley said, “God does nothing but in answer to prayer.” The church in Jerusalem did not need to be made aware of Peter’s situation. They prayed and God acted. And that’s how God still administers His will on earth today.