The Passion according to Mark – Session 2 (14: 53-72)

Points made by Raymond Brown in A Crucified Christ in Holy Week (p. 25-27)

  • Mark has left the testimony about the destruction of the Temple incoherent for his readers, for he never explains what is false in the words the Sanhedrin attribute to Jesus:
    • Did Jesus never say anything like this about the Temple?  Or maybe he did with a different tone than intended here?
    • Did he prophecy destruction and restoration but not make himself the agent (John 2:19)?
    • Or is it more complicated…is Mark offering a clue for later Christians that the Temple would be replaced by the Church?
  • See the connections with Isaiah’s Suffering Servant (53:7, 50:6).
  • “You will see the Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven,” shows Jesus’ conviction that even his enemies will be forced to recognize his triumph.  The warning is rejected; not a voice is raised in jesus’ defense.
  • Some scholars think Peter may have been cursing Jesus.  This would truly have Peter reaching the depths of degradation in his discipleship.
  • Note the irony that at the very moment when Jesus is being mocked by the Sanhedrin challenge to prophesy, his prophecies are coming true in Peter’s actions. 

What is the Sanhedrin?  The word ‘Sanhedrin’ – sunedrion in Greek – is an exact translation of the word ‘consistory’:  it meant an assembly, a senate, a boule, as they would have said in Athens, or perhaps even a permanent commission; and it sat at Jerusalem.  By the time of this Gospel, we see the Sanhedrin solely as a tribunal, as the supreme court.  It also played the part of a pontifical college, charged with the study of religious question, and that of a political council.  It voted the laws, it had its own police, and it intervened in relations with the occupying Romans, H. Daniel-Rops’ Daily Life in the TIme of Jesus, p. 53.  R. Brown expands on the Sanhedrin in An Introduction to the New Testament that Josephus, a 1st century historian, seemed to indicate that the group was no longer a fixed number of members and may just have been called together when there was an issue or a need for advice or support, p. 146). 

From R. Leonard SJ’s Where the Hell is God?, p. 42:  God the Father’s role in the context of accompanying his Son in and through the crucible of anxiety in the garden might be seen in terms of a just and good army commander.  A good friend of mine who has led troops into battle in Afghanistan says, “I love my troops so much that I would never want to commit them to death.  I have gone with them into battle only so that we can all serve the higher good of liberating people from tyranny and offering them a better life than anything they’ve known before…the higher calling is to remain focused on the mission, and be committed to the people, among the poorest people in the world, to whom we are sent to serve.  Believing in the rightness of the cause means we can overcome our worst anxieties, look death in the face, and make sure evil does not have the last word.

Reflection Questions

  1. Where do you see yourself in this story?  What feelings in your gut are stirred?
  2. How do you react to confrontation?  How do Jesus and Peter react?
  3. Pretend you had to explain these events to someone who doesn’t know anything about Jesus.  How would you do it?  
  4. What does it mean to you to have a savior that went through all of this?

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