An Unexpected Path to Hope: God is On Trial

Passage: Mark 14:53-72
Guide for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection

Sermon Summary

When life is hard, we can easily drift off course in our faith, and we need both a focus on Jesus’ faithfulness and an honesty about our own faithlessness to keep us on track. Both of these truths—Jesus’ faithfulness and our faithlessness—are illustrated in Jesus’ trial.

Mark’s description of Jesus’ trial is sandwiched between two descriptions of Peter’s own faithlessness, as Peter gradually distances himself from Jesus during the trial then ultimately denies him three times. These descriptions of Peter’s distance and denial only serve to highlight the faithfulness of Jesus, as he stood silent before his accusers, even as they held his fate in their hands. While Jesus’ refusal to defend himself appeared to those watching like a succumb to defeat, his silence actually came from his determination to fulfill God’s promises to us…promises to love us with an everlasting love, to dwell with us, and to provide a suffering servant for our forgiveness. When we realize how faithful Jesus has been to us, we become people of integrity and faithfulness ourselves. This faithfulness is compelling to a watching world, and it also stabilizes our own identity.

Finally, it is in light of Jesus’ own faithfulness that we can be honest about our own faithlessness. It is instructive that Mark’s gospel, which most scholars think was compiled from Peter’s accounts of the life of Jesus, includes so many examples of Peter’s own failures. In fact, the Bible as a whole goes out of its way to highlight the failings of the biblical “heroes.” Only a religion based on God’s mercy for the undeserving can inspire such honest humility in its followers.

The gospel ended up forming Peter into a disciple who was confident in Jesus and distrusting of himself, which is the posture we need to stay faithful to Jesus in the grind of life.

Sermon Outline

  • Focus on the Faithfulness of Jesus (14:55-75)
  • Honesty About Our Own Faithlessness (14:54; 66-72)

Group Discussion & Personal Reflection Guide

Re-read the passage (Mark 14:53-72)

Focus on the Faithfulness of Jesus (14:55-75)

Q) Re-read Mark 14:50-54, which sets the stage for Jesus’ trial. Where were the disciples as Jesus’ trial began? Where was Peter? How do these details help color the story of Jesus’ trial?

Q) Re-Read Mark 14:55-65, which describes Jesus’ trial. How would you describe the accusations of the chief priests and the Council? How would you describe Jesus’ response? Why did Jesus respond the way he did?

Q) How does Jesus’ response during his trial serve to highlight his faithfulness—both to his Father, and towards us?

Q) In his sermon, Pastor Bobby said that the gospel gives us “tremendous incentive to keep our promises even when they hurt,” and that the gospel “helps us love others even when they are unfaithful to us.” Do you see yourself as a person of faithfulness, who keeps their promises/commitments even when it costs you? Where have you fallen short? How can you grow in this?

Q) Many people keep their promises, but out of duty only, and often with a sense of pride, accompanied by a quiet grumbling about others who aren’t “pulling their weight.” Have you ever noticed this tendency in yourselves? How might the gospel speak to it, and transform you into a person who keeps promises out of a humble gratitude to God?

Honesty About Our Own Faithlessness (14:54; 66-72)

Q) Re-read Mark 14:66-72. How would you describe the progression of Jesus’ denial in these verses? What affect does it have on Peter himself? What do you think was more valuable to Peter in this moment than staying faithful to Jesus?

Q) Though we might not deny Jesus outright, there are many small ways we disassociate with Jesus throughout the day. What is one recent example of a way you’ve “denied” Jesus in your day-to-day life? What was more important to you at that time than identifying with Jesus?

Q) Pastor Bobby mentioned in his sermon about how Mark’s gospel, which draws heavily from Peter’s accounts of his time with Jesus, goes out of its way to highlight Peter’s failings. How easy is it for you to honestly own up to your sins and failures? (How would your friends answer this question about you?) How does a failure to own up to our sins undermine our witness?

Q) What is one practical way this week that you can more regularly remember Jesus’ faithfulness to you?

Additional Application Questions

Q) How else would you like to engage with God this week?

Q) How can you tangibly care for those in your community this week, both inside and outside of the church?

Prayer

Spend time praying for yourselves, our church community, the North Shore community, and our nation and world—particularly those most vulnerable.

 
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