Thursday 28th March – Mark 14:43-72 ‘Witness statements’

Mark 14:43-72

I’ve never yet been asked to give evidence in a court room.  Once I almost did: I’d submitted written testimony and was expecting to be cross-examined.  It was only a civil case, not a criminal one, but even so, I was so nervous I forgot to put a belt on when getting ready at home, only realising when I was halfway along the street.  I had to dive into a shop near the train station and buy one on the way, or I would have had to keep my hands in my trouser pockets throughout to stop a clothing malfunction!  Not a good look before a judge….

Thankfully my written evidence was accepted without dispute, and my trousers stayed secure: but it was a sobering reminder of the power of a witness statement.  In today’s passage Jesus is surrounded by many witnesses, one after the other – however none of them were the sort you’d want on your side at your time of need.  Each witness gave their own ‘testimony’:

A kiss – from his friend Judas.

A sword – to win Jesus’ freedom through terror.

A club – from those crowding round to arrest him.

A garment – left by the young man who fled.  Many have often wondered if this was Mark himself, quietly admitting his own failure of nerve.

A lie – from those recruited by Jesus’ enemies to try and smear his name.

A rip – from the High Priest as Jesus quoted Daniel before him, a gloriously true prophecy which sealed his fate.

A denial – from his best friend Peter.  Or rather three denials, before the rooster declares his cowardice.

As we reflect on the enormity of Jesus’ sacrifice, we hold in our minds Jesus’ call for each of us to be witnesses.  And yet, so often we may feel like one or more of these people, offering faulty testimony.  A denial here, a betrayal there….

It is hard to read today’s passage without being humbled.  But in the midst of the storm, we also claim this truth: Jesus knows.  No failure of ours is new to him: he saw it all in Holy Week, indeed in this one night.  And still he loves.  Still he forgives.  Still he speaks a word of reassurance to us, just as he did to Peter.

We will never plumb the depths of his love: but we can marvel in it, and receive it afresh today.

Faithful Lord, thank you that no failure of ours puts us beyond your love.  You were let down in every way: and still you were faithful to your calling.  Give us grace to receive your astonishing forgiveness, and to be empowered to be your witnesses, for your precious sake.  Amen.