Red Letter Year: 2/27

Mark 14:53-72

53 They took Jesus to the high priest’s home where the leading priests, the elders, and the teachers of religious law had gathered. 54 Meanwhile, Peter followed him at a distance and went right into the high priest’s courtyard. There he sat with the guards, warming himself by the fire.

55 Inside, the leading priests and the entire high council were trying to find evidence against Jesus, so they could put him to death. But they couldn’t find any. 56 Many false witnesses spoke against him, but they contradicted each other. 57 Finally, some men stood up and gave this false testimony: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this Temple made with human hands, and in three days I will build another, made without human hands.’” 59 But even then they didn’t get their stories straight!

60 Then the high priest stood up before the others and asked Jesus, “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?” 61 But Jesus was silent and made no reply. Then the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”

62 Jesus said, “I Am. And you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

63 Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror and said, “Why do we need other witnesses? 64 You have all heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?”

“Guilty!” they all cried. “He deserves to die!” 65 Then some of them began to spit at him, and they blindfolded him and beat him with their fists. “Prophesy to us,” they jeered. And the guards slapped him as they took him away.

66 Meanwhile, Peter was in the courtyard below. One of the servant girls who worked for the high priest came by 67 and noticed Peter warming himself at the fire. She looked at him closely and said, “You were one of those with Jesus of Nazareth.”

68 But Peter denied it. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, and he went out into the entryway. Just then, a rooster crowed.

69 When the servant girl saw him standing there, she began telling the others, “This man is definitely one of them!” 70 But Peter denied it again. A little later some of the other bystanders confronted Peter and said, “You must be one of them, because you are a Galilean.”

71 Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know this man you’re talking about!” 72 And immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he broke down and wept.


Not a lot of red letters today. Not a lot of truth telling in this passage. As is too often the case, the “trial” features leaders looking for something to give them an excuse to do what they want, something to support a decision they have already made. When you are only looking and listening for what you want to see and hear, you are blind and deaf to the truth, even when it is plainly stated to you. All of the secrecy about Jesus’ identity that Mark kept emphasizing pays off here in the most direct statement in all the Gospels. Jesus finally lays all his cards on the table and comes clean with the religious leaders. But they weren’t looking for truth and they didn’t want a Messiah. They aren’t the only ones short on truth here. Their falsehood is mirrored by Peter’s, who seems to be the only one of the twelve who didn’t completely desert Jesus, but whose courage fails under the ‘harsh interrogation’ of a servant girl. We can so easily wind up in one of these untruth traps, where our own thinking blinds us to truth or our own fear leads us to deny or disclaim what we know is true. When we are plainly told and can’t see it. When we are plainly asked and can’t say it. It takes a lot of courage to accept truth (especially uncomfortable truth, but it always takes some measure of courage) and even more to share it. I hope we are brave enough for both.

New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.