Jesus on Trial
Mark 14:61–62 (ESV) — 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.”
In Mark 14:53–65, the religious authorities bring Jesus to the high priest for trial. It’s a kangaroo court. Jesus has done nothing wrong, but they intended to condemn him. Without any evidence of a crime, the high priest demands Jesus identify himself: “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Jesus’ answer is breathtaking:
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.” (14:62)
With this brief answer, Jesus weaves together two important Old Testament messianic texts: Psalm 110 and Daniel 7.
In Psalm 110, David wrote of a future messianic king: “The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool’” (Ps 110:1). When Jesus said the Son of Man will take his seat at the “right hand of Power,” he had Psalm 110:1 in mind.
By alluding to Psalm 110:1, Jesus claims that the entirety of Psalm 110 is about him. The high priest would have known the content of this psalm, especially verse 4: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek’” (Ps 110:4). Here’s irony: The high priest Caiaphas has put the real high priest in the dock. Jesus is on trial, but all authority really belongs to him. Jesus is an even greater priest after the order of Melchizedek.
After Jesus’ resurrection, the author of Hebrews argued that Jesus alone qualifies for the office of the Melchizedekian priesthood. Only Jesus has an indestructible life (Heb 7:16), and only Jesus is “able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb 7:25).
In addition to Psalm 110, Jesus evokes Daniel 7:13–14 by referring to himself as the Son of Man, “coming with the clouds of heaven.”
Daniel 7:13–14 (ESV) — 13 “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.
Daniel prophesied of a messianic Son of Man that would ascend in the clouds to the throne room of God. God would grant this Son of Man dominion over all the earth. His kingdom would be an everlasting kingdom and all nations would serve him forever.
In essence, Jesus tells the high priest, “You remember Daniel’s Son of Man? That’s me.” Jesus could not have been any clearer in answering the high priest’s question. It’s as if Jesus said, “Since you asked, I am the Davidic king your scriptures talk about. I am the great priest after the order of Melchizedek. I am the one who will rule the nations from the right hand of God. I am the Son of Man that will receive everlasting dominion and a kingdom that will not fade away. I am the Son of God and all nations will serve me.”
No wonder the high priest tore his garments and threw a fit. He knew exactly what Jesus meant by his answer. The council condemned Jesus and sent him away to be crucified on a Roman cross for blasphemy. What they didn’t realize was that his suffering and death would be the path to his glory and exaltation as the Melchizedekian priest and Danielic Son of Man.
Our Only Hope
In Jesus’ trial we discover his true identity in what appears to be a moment of weakness. The high priest and the council did not understand. But here again we discover the paradox of true Christianity. We only come to know Jesus and his true power through the weakness of his passion and the weakness of his cross. If we want to be forgiven of our sins; if we want eternal life; if we want true and everlasting joy with God; then we must discover the power of God in the weakness of a crucified king. His humiliation is the path to his exaltation to the right hand of God. We must come to him in humble submission and with the empty hands of faith. We don’t get to come to God as his accuser. We do not have the right to prosecute him. We cannot think we will cross-examine him in our arrogance. We must come to Christ in humility. We must see Christ for who he is: David’s Lord, Daniel’s Son of Man, God in the flesh bearing our sin in weakness so that we might discover the power of his salvation.
*If you would like to listen to Matthew Emadi’s full sermon on this passage, click the link below and select sermon #7 titled “God in the Dock.”