I suppose I never really followed what Jesus meant when he said, “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10). Of course I do understand that it was Jesus’s intent to go to the cross. But I couldn’t understand why Jesus’s trial and conviction before the High Priest’s court and before Pilate, didn’t count as his life being taken from him.
But then today, my reading came from Mark 14, where Jesus appears before the High Priest. The text says that they brought Jesus to trial and put forward fraudulent witnesses. Witness after witness failed to coordinate their stories. The chief priests had no case against Jesus, and Jesus said nothing. Finally, the high priest asks Jesus straightforwardly, “ Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” In his very first statement before the court, Jesus knowingly and intentionally implicates himself. He says, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” He goes beyond answering the question—he answers it in a way he knows will incense the court.
Jesus knew the priests and elders wanted to crucify him. When he was praying in Gethsemane, he knew he was about to be arrested. When he came before the court, he knew the chief priests and elders were bringing false witnesses, and he kept quiet. When given the chance to speak, he gives the very answer he knew would lead to a death sentence. In light of that, it becomes very clear that no one took Jesus’s life from him. Jesus laid it down of his own accord.