Mark 14:27-52 (Wednesday Evening Bible Study)

Mark 14:27-52

  • Mark 14:27-31
  • 27 Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will fall away, because it is written: I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered. 28 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you to Galilee. 29 Peter told him, “Even if everyone falls away, I will not. 30 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to him, “today, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times. 31 But he kept insisting, “If I have to die with you, I will never deny you.” And they all said the same thing.
    • It is a tremendous thing about Jesus that there was nothing for which He was not prepared
      • The opposition, the misunderstanding, the enmity of the orthodox religious people, the betrayal by one of His own inner circle, the pain and the agony of the cross—He was prepared for them all
      • But perhaps what hurt Him most was the failure of His friends
        • It is when we are up against it that we need our friends most, and that was exactly when Jesus’ friends left Him all alone and let Him down. There was nothing in the whole gamut of physical pain and mental torture that Jesus did not pass through
    • Jesus had supremely, more than anyone who has ever lived, this quality of fortitude, the ability to remain steadfast no matter what blows life assaulted Him with, this serenity when there was nothing but heartbreak behind and torture in front
      • Inevitably every now and then we find ourselves catching our breath at His heroism
    • When Jesus foretold this tragic failure of loyalty, Peter could not believe that it would happen
      • In the 18th century, the Marquis of Huntly was captured. His captors pointed at the block and the axe and told him that unless he abandoned his loyalty he would be executed then and there. His answer was, “You can take my head from my shoulders but you will never take my heart from my king.” That was what Peter was saying that night
    • There is a lesson in the word Jesus used for “fall away”
      • The Greek verb is skandalizein, from skandalon, or skandalethron which meant the bait in the trap, the stick on to which the animal was lured and with snapped the trap when the animal stepped on it
      • So this word came to mean to entrap, or to trip up by some trick or guile
      • Peter was too sure
        • He had forgotten the traps that life can lay for even the best among us. He had forgotten how easy it is to step on a slippery place and fall. He had forgotten his own human weakness and the strength of the devil’s temptations
        • But there is one thing to be remembered about Peter—his heart was in the right place. Better a Peter with a flaming heart of love, even if that love did for a moment fail most shamefully, than a Judas with a cold heart of hate. Let those people condemn Peter who never broke a promise, who were never disloyal in thought or action to a pledge. Peter loved Jesus, and even if his love failed, it rose again
  • Mark 14:32-42
  • 32 Then they came to a place named Gethsemane, and he told his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 He said to them, “I am deeply grieved to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake.” 35 He went a little farther, fell to the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 And he said, “Abba, Father! All things are possible for you. Take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will.” 37 Then he came and found them sleeping. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Couldn’t you stay awake one hour? 38 Stay awake and pray so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 Once again he went away and prayed, saying the same thing. 40 And again he came and found them sleeping, because they could not keep their eyes open. They did not know what to say to him. 41 Then he came a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The time has come. See, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Get up; let’s go. See, my betrayer is near.”
    • The fact that Judas knew to look for Him in Gethsemane shows that Jesus was in the habit of going there
      • In Jerusalem itself there were no gardens. The city was too crowded, and there was a strange law that the city’s sacred soil might not be polluted with manure for the gardens
      • But some of the rich people possessed private gardens out on the Mount of Olives, where they took their rest
      • Jesus may have had some wealthy friend who gave Him the privilege of using his garden at night
    • When Jesus went to Gethsemane there were two things He sorely desired. Human fellowship and God’s fellowship
      • In time of trouble we want friends with us. We do not necessarily want them to do anything. We do not necessarily even want to talk to them or have them talk to us. We only want them there. Jesus was like that. 
      • It was strange that men who so short a time before had been protesting that they would die for Him could not stay awake for Him one single hour. But none can blame them for the excitement and the tension had drained their strength and their resistance
    • Certain things are clear about Jesus in this passage
      • He did not want to die
        • He was 33 and no one wants to die with life just opening on to the best of the years
        • He had done so little and there was a world waiting to be saved
        • He knew what crucifixion was like and He shuddered at the thought of it
        • He had to compel Himself to go on—just as we so often have to do
      • He did not fully understand why this had to be
        • He only knew beyond a doubt that this was the will of God and that He must go on
        • Jesus had to make the great venture of faith, He had to accept what He could not understand
      • He submitted to the will of God
        • Abba is the Aramaic for “my father”. It is that one word which made all the difference
        • Jesus was not submitting to a God who made a cynical sport of men and women
        • Even in this terrible hour, when He was making this terrible demand, God was Father
          • When Richard Cameron, the covenanter, was killed, his head and hands were cut off by one Murray and taken to Edinburgh. His father was in prison for the same charge, and they wanted to add grief to him. They gave him his son’s hands and head, asking if they knew who they belonged to. He kissed them and said, “I know them—I know them. They are my son’s—my own dear son’s. It is the Lord. Good is the will of the Lord, who cannot wrong me nor mine, but hath made goodness and mercy to follow us all our days.” 
        • If we can call God Father everything becomes bearable. Time and time again we will not understand, but always we will be certain that the Father’s hand will never cause His child a needless tear. That is what Jesus knew; that is why He could go on—and it can be so with us
    • We must note how the passage ends
      • The traitor and his gang had arrived 
      • What was Jesus’ reaction? Not to run away, although even then, in the night, it would have been easy to escape. His reaction was to face them. To the end, He would neither turn aside nor turn back
  • Mark 14:43-50
  • 43 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, suddenly arrived. With him was a mob, with swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. 44 His betrayer had given them a signal. “The one I kiss,” he said, “he’s the one; arrest him and take him away under guard.” 45 So when he came, immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46 They took hold of him and arrested him. 47 One of those who stood by drew his sword, struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his ear. 48 Jesus said to them,“Have you come out with swords and clubs, as if I were a criminal, to capture me? 49 Every day I was among you, teaching in the temple, and you didn’t arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” 50 Then they all deserted him and ran away.
    • Here is sheer drama and the characters stand out before us
      • There is Judas, the traitor
        • He was aware that the people knew Jesus well enough by sight. But he felt that in the dim light of the garden, with the darkness of the trees lit in pools of light by the flare of the torches, they needed a definite indication of who they were to arrest. And so he chose that most terrible of signs—a kiss
        • It was customary to greet a Rabbi with a kiss. It was a sign of respect and affection for a well-loved teacher. But there is a dreadful thing here
          • When Judas says, “The one I kiss, he’s the one”, he uses the word philein which is the ordinary word. But when it is said that he came forward and kissed Jesus, the word is kataphilein
          • The kata is intensive and suggests that the kiss was prolonged in order to give a clear signal. But more than that, it was not a mere formal greeting. It was the greeting of a friend. That is the grimmest and most awful thing in all the gospel story
      • There is the arresting mob
        • They came from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. These were the three sections of the Sanhedrin, and Mark means that they came from the Sanhedrin
          • Even under Roman jurisdiction the Sanhedrin had certain police rights and duties in Jerusalem and had its own police force
        • No doubt an assorted mix had attached itself to them on the way. 
        • Somehow Mark manages to convey the pent-up excitement of those who came to make the arrest. Maybe they had come prepared for bloodshed with nerves taut and tense. It is they who emanate terror—not Jesus
      • There is the man who drew his sword and struck a blow
        • John tells us that it was Peter. It sounds like Peter, and Mark very likely omitted the name because it was not yet safe to write it down. In the scuffle no one saw who struck the blow; it was better that no one should know
        • But when John wrote forty years later it was then quite safe to write it down
        • It may be wrong to draw a sword and hack at a man, but somehow we are glad that there was one man there who, at least on the impulse of the moment, was prepared to strike a blow for Jesus
      • There are the disciples
        • Their nerve cracked. They could not face it. They were afraid that they too would share the fate of Jesus, so they fled
      • There is Jesus Himself
        • The strange thing is that in all this disordered scene Jesus was the one oasis of serenity
        • As we read the story it reads as if He, not the Sanhedrin police, was directing affairs
        • For Him the struggle in the garden was over, and now there was the peace of the Man who knows that He is following the will of God
  • Mark 14:51-52
  • 51 Now a certain young man, wearing nothing but a linen cloth, was following him. They caught hold of him, 52 but he left the linen cloth behind and ran away naked.
    • These are two strange and fascinating verses
      • At first sight they seem completely irrelevant. They seem to add nothing to the narrative and yet there must be some reason for them being there
    • We saw in the Introduction that Matthew and Luke used Mark as the basis of their work and that they include in their gospels practically everything that is in Mark. But they do not include these two verses
    • That would seem to show that this incident was interesting to Mark and not really interesting to anyone else. Why then was this incident so interesting to Mark that he felt he must include it
      • The most probable answer is that the young man was Mark himself, and that this is his way of saying, “I was there”, without mentioning his own name at all
    • When we read Acts we find that the meeting place and headquarters of the Jerusalem church was apparently in the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark. If that is so, it is at least probable that the upper room in which the Last Supper was eaten was in that same house
    • There could be no more natural place than that to be the center of the Church. If we can assume that, there are two possibilities
      • It may be that Mark was actually present at the Last Supper. He was young, just a boy, and maybe no one really noticed him. But he was fascinated with Jesus, and when the company went out into the dark, he slipped out after them when he ought to have been in bed, with only the linen sheet covering him. It may be that all the time Mark was there in the shadows listening and watching. That would explain where the Gethsemane narrative came from. If the disciples were all asleep, how did anyone know about the struggle of soul that Jesus had there? It may be that the one witness was Mark as he stood silent in the shadows, watching with a boy’s reverence the greatest hero had ever known. 
      • From John’s narrative, we know that Judas left the company before the meal was fully ended. It may be that it was to the upper room that Judas meant to lead the Temple police so that they might secretly arrest Jesus. But when Judas came back with the police, Jesus and His disciples were gone. Naturally there was an argument. The uproar wakened Mark. He heard Judas propose that they should try the garden of Gethsemane. Quickly Mark wrapped his bedsheet around him and sped through the night to the garden to warn Jesus. But he arrived too late, and in the scuffle that followed was very nearly arrested himself.
  • Whatever may be true, we may take it as fairly certain that Mark put in this passage because it was about himself. He could never forget that night. He was too humble to put his own name in, but in this way he wrote his signature and said, to anyone who could read between the lines, “I was there as a boy.”

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