But Jesus remained silent, and made no answer.
A second time the high priest questioned him. “Are you,” he asked, “the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”
in the midst of a silence
so deep we are frightened
by our own breathing
a silence bigger than
collapsing on itself
a wee whisper of doubt
makes its way to question
if suffering is a beloved’s way
here before all that’s holy
you stand accused accursed
can you stand any other way
Can you hear the sneer in the voice when “you” is emphasized? How could a nobody from Galilee, and, even worse, Nazareth, presume such?
Wright204 points to this tone when he comments:
Mark is aware of irony here. Caiaphas’s question, in Greek, takes the form of a statement with a question mark at the end: “You are the Messiah?” The words are identical to what Peter said in 8:29. Now Peter is outside, about to deny he even knows Jesus; and Caiaphas, inside, asks the question with contempt, knowing already what answer he would believe.
Not only is Jesus’ background sketchy, so is his present. What Messiah would stoop to the indignity of this scene? This enacted parable contains plenty of irony if only religious leaders could get outside of their righteous need to be right.
We might even see a thought-bubble come from Jesus and comment about the strangeness of a beloved of a Blesser being judged by such as these who wouldn’t stoop to being Messiah’s peer but live out the desire of James and John to be in positions of power just because their guy won an election.
Asking about being a Messiah is the equivalent of asking about being an Anointed one. Caiaphas would be expecting a Messiah to be anointed as a sign of power. The anointing Jesus received by an unnamed woman was an anointing as a sign of death.
The questions and answers of this fraught moment whiz by one another. Shakespeare’s comedies don’t do any better at everyone being someone else.
With Baptizer John and now with Jesus, Mark reveals what prophets continually show—the powerful lie in wait to trap the righteous. They do this with lies, false testimony, and false friendship of enjoying company and betrayal with a kiss.