-The time comes within two days of the Passover and feast of Unleavened Bread where the chief priests and scribes were seeking how to seize Jesus by stealth and kill Him. They wanted to be inconspicuous as much as possible so as not to cause a riot among the people since they feared them knowing that Jesus was a powerful teacher with substantial influence. What they neglected to figure out was that He was the Son of God, the Messiah, the King of kings and Lord of lords. The Christ was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper. While He was reclining at the table, there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume (about a year’s worth of wages). It was pure nard, and she broke the vial of it and poured it over the Lord’s Head. This was a symbolic anointing for His burial, but she may not have even known the real significance of this act. Surely the disciples didn’t. They became indignant with what they considered a wasteful spending of money on this occasion. Jesus rebuked them though. He told they would always have the poor to give to whenever they felt led, but He was only here for this brief time. What the woman was doing was commended by the Messiah, and He prophesied that wherever His gospel was preached, she would be known in memory (Mark 14:1-9).
-The scene quickly jumps in the text to Judas Iscariot and his primary steps in the betrayal of Christ Jesus. He went off to the chief priests to plot and plan. Of course the religious establishment was glad when they heard of this treachery. They promised to give him money for his efforts, and they began to seek an opportune time to get Him (Mark 14:10-11).
-On the first day of Unleavened Bread under the Law of the Jesus at its appointed time, when the Passover lamb was being sacrificed, the Lord’s disciples asked where He wanted them to prepare to eat the traditional meal of Passover. He sent two of the disciples into Jerusalem and told them ahead of time that they would meet a man carrying a pitcher of water. They were to follow him and enter the house to ask the owner for his guest room for the feast with His disciples. The owner would show them a large upper (upstairs) room, which would be furnished and ready. Jesus told them to prepare for the meal there in that appointed place. Many think this was the same place where the Holy Spirit entered the scene post Christ’s return to the Right Hand of God the Father, but this cannot be proven textually. The disciples went and came to the city to find it just as the Lord had said, and they prepared the Passover dinner there (Mark 14:12-16). When it was evening, He came with the twelve. As they were reclining at the table and eating, Jesus began to speak, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me—one who is eating with Me.” The disciples began to be very grieved saying one-by-one, “Surely not I?” He then dipped in the bowl with Judas Iscariot, and once again prophesied as the fulfillment of ancient prophesy. He pronounced woe and ruin on the betrayer knowing his fate and heart fully. His comment that it would have been better had he never been born is a powerful condemnation as to the consequences of this heinous act of intrigue. While still eating, Jesus now took some bread and initiated the first communion. He blessed the bread, then broke it as a symbol of His death and gave it to them saying, “Take it; this is My Body.” After this, the Lord took a cup of wine, gave His Father in Heaven thanks for it, apportioned it to the disciples having them all drink from the same cup. Then He commented, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I say to you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the Kingdom of God.” After they all sang a hymn to the LORD, they went out to the Mount of Olives across the Kidron Valley to the east and outside the gates of the Holy City (Mark 14:17-26). Here, Jesus again predicts Peter’s future denial of Him. He begins the passion like this from the Old Testament prophecy, “I will strike down the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered (Zechariah 13:7, Mark 14:27).” But then He gives them hope. “After I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” Peter pledged his allegiance to his Master at this point, but Jesus plainly stated, “Truly I say to you, that this very night, before a rooster crows twice, you yourself will deny Me three times.” Peter was insistent on his promise guaranteeing to go to his death without denying the Lord. All the disciples were joining in with this fervor, not exactly knowing what was about to go down (Mark 14:28-31).
-*Application* We can also sometimes object to a clearly stated word from the LORD on matters in our lives. This is dangerous and always fallible. It proves to be arrogance against the Almighty who knows all and sees ahead in situations. Instead of false bravado and unscrupulous pride, we would be better served to humbly submit to the King’s word. He always knows better than us as fate would have it. We will continue to see the dynamic of betrayal play out as a theme in Peter and Judas Iscariot with very diverse results. Repentance and return to the LORD we will see is crucial when we have fallen, and God’s grace is always sufficient when we have the proper heart.
-They came to the place named Gethsemane on the lower western part of the Mount of Olives. He wanted His disciples to sit while He prayed. He took Peter, James, and John a little further along, and the Word says He began to be very distressed and troubled in His Spirit. In fact, His Soul was grieved with heartache to the point of death. Another gospel tells us that He was in such anguish that He sweated drops like blood from His pores (Luke 22:44). This was indeed a desperate plea before the Father as He asked to have this cup of suffering removed from Him. Nevertheless, He wanted God’s will above His own wishes facing this torment and torture for the sake of redeeming the world. He returned to find His disciples sleeping. He implored them to wake up, keep watch, and pray, but they were extremely weary. He knew that the spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak. He exhorted them to watch and pray that they may not enter into temptation. He went back to pray again in His distressed and oppressed Spirit, but the disciples again grew tired and slept. When He came back a third time to find them sound asleep, He commented, “Are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough; the hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand (Mark 14:32-42)!”
-While He was still speaking these words, immediately Judas, one of the twelve, came up to Him accompanied by a cohort from the chief priests and scribes and elders of the people. They had clubs and swords looking ready for a fight. Judas kissed the Lord as the prearranged plot to identify Him in the dark of night calling Him, “Rabbi!” They tried to seize Him, but a fracas briefly broke out with Peter cutting off the ear of the high priest’s slave (John 18:10). This resulted in a healing from another gospel account, which appears to be the Lord’s last earthly miracle before His crucifixion (Luke 22:51). Jesus quickly calmed things down in this chaos though. He proclaimed, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me, as you would against a robber? Every day I was with you in the Temple teaching, and you did not seize Me; but this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures.” After this statement of concession, the disciples vacated the scene quickly. They ALL left Him and fled. One dubious young man, who some scholars believe was John Mark himself, had only a linen sheet over his naked body. This sheet was grabbed by the captors, but he ripped away and escaped naked (Mark 14:43-52).
-Jesus was then led away to the house of Caiaphas, the high priest. All the chief priests, elders, and scribes who had illegally conspired together, with forethought and preparation, gathered together to examine this Messiah. Peter regained his moxy for a moment and followed the procession at a distance right into the courtyard of the high priest’s house. He was sitting with the officers there warming himself by the fire. Inside, a council of the Sanhedrin developed in the house, but the testimonies were inconsistent, and they were not finding any convincing proof that would condemn Him to death. His statement about rebuilding the Temple without hands even fell apart in this farce of a courtroom. Finally, the high priest himself stood up and came forward toward the Lord to question Him. He didn’t understand why Jesus was silent in the face of His accusers. When He wouldn’t speak even to the high priest, Caiaphas cut to the quick, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” This was the moment of truth, and Jesus responded, “I AM (emphasis mine); and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the Right Hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of Heaven (Psalm 110:1-7, Daniel 7:13-14).” Now fully knowing the claim by this Man, the chief priest tore his clothes in disgust saying, “What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy; how does it seem to you?” The council ALL condemned Him as deserving of death at that pivotal point. Some began to spit at Him. They blindfolded Him and beat the Messiah with their fists mocking Him to “Prophesy!” As the officers received Him, they too slapped the Lord in the Face (Mark 14:53-65).
-Peter was still below in the courtyard below observing the scene as much as he could. A servant-girl of the high priest came and looked out the disciple and commented, “You also were with Jesus the Nazarene.” Peter, as Jesus had prophesied, denied it saying he neither knew Him nor understood what she was talking about. Fear had gripped his heart as he walked out onto the porch and heard a rooster crow. She came back later and seeing him said to the bystanders, “This is one of them!” Peter again denied it. Sometime later these bystanders were purporting, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean too.” At this point, the man who claimed he would stand up for Jesus no matter what began to curse and swear to the fact that He did not know Jesus and had no idea what they were talking about in trying to identify him with this condemned Man. Immediately a rooster crowed for the second time and triggered Peter’s memory of the Lord’s words. The Bible says that at that point he went outside and began to weep bitterly (Mark 14:66-72, Luke 22:62).
-*Application* We know that Jesus was one with the Father and completely obeyed His good and perfect will on earth. This certainly was not easy as we can discern from the text. It will not be easy for us too to take up our cross every day and follow Him (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23, 1 Corinthians 15:31). But the reward is great and God has substantial mercy. Just remember Peter’s failures and eventually restoration to give strength to persevere when God calls us to do difficult things for His Kingdom’s success.
Verses to Memorize: Mark 14:22-25, 36