Mark 14. Thinking the Unthinkable. Pt. I. He Was Captured.

Key Notes: Thwarting the conspirators. Preparing the body. The meaning of the symbols. The most dangerous hour. Are you the Christ?

The Son of God goes forth to die? That is unthinkable. Yet the agony begins.

Mk.14:1–2 The conspirators intended to kill Jesus, by stealth, after the Feast. They were thwarted on both of their conditions. He died in the plan of God during Passover when there was a massive crowd in Jerusalem, and He died in the most conspicuous way imaginable—lifted up for everyone to see.

14:3–9 He was in Bethany at the house of Simon the Leper, having supper. We guess that Simon had been healed of his leprosy. Mary (Jn.12:2, not named here) took an alabaster flask, a bottle made of a soft stone like marble,  broke it and poured it over Him. It was a pound (Jn.12:3), about two cups, and would be drenching, head to foot. Imagine two cups of Chanel #5 poured on you? That would be a shock to everyone in the room, especially the person who was soaked with it. It would wet His garments, and drip on the floor . It was an extravagant gift, and totally used up. “Such a waste!” Two drops would have been enouigh. That kind of money could sustain a family for a year! We suppose that the disciples were among the grumblers.

Jesus saw the situation quite differently. He was not shocked, but pleased. She was preparing His body for burial. He would carry the perfume on His body to the grave. Since it was the season of the Feast, they could give alms to the poor, but Jesus would not be there for long. Hers was also an act of extravagant devotion, of pure love that no one in the room could really understand. Her story is told to this day, as Jesus prophesied. In a sense, she had also done an anointing, so there are two spiritual concepts for us.

We should not confuse this with the story of the woman who came to Simon the Pharisee’s party. (Lk.7:36–50). She crashed that party as a sinner seeking forgiveness. Jesus had to teach Simon the Pharisee a lesson on forgiveness. Mary, on the other hand,  was one of Jesus' followers and her act was one of pure devotion.

14:10–11 Judas went away to betray Jesus to the chief priests, who were happy to work with an insider. Whether the anointing triggered his rejection of Jesus, we do not know, and it is useless to speculate about the nature of evil. We always look for the motives of murderers but the mystery of iniquity is still a mystery.

14:12–16 The Passover meal was arranged without fuss. Jesus knew what to do as He did at the Triumphal Entry. A man with a water jar would be easy to recognize; if a man carried water, it was usually in a skin bag. They went where He said, and sure enough, the arrangements were already in place. The disciples did the cooking. The Upper Room remains with us as an image of a place for intimate fellowship.

14:17–31 Jesus led the Passover discussion with the announcement of three defections of the disciples, instituting the Lord’s Supper in the middle. That would be enough to break the heart of everyone in the room, especially the One betrayed and abandoned. The first Easter feast (Passover) was not celebrated in joy, but in sorrow and dismay.

“One of you will betray Me”, as it is written. (Psa. 41:9)
"You will all fall away….” (quoting Zech 13:7).
“…before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.”.

But there was good news mixed in.
  His life was a fulfillment of OT prophecy “…as it is written of Him.”
“This is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many.”
"Take; this is my body. "
  …after I am raised, up, I will go before you to Galilee”.

14:21 “The Son of Man goes as it is written of Him but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed.” The statement of Judas’ betrayal illustrates the impenetrable puzzle of divine sovereignty and human responsibility. It is not explained here or anywhere else. Recent attempts to solve the mystery begin by assuming free will for all humans. We then preserve human freedom at the expense of God’s foreknowledge--perhaps invoking “the openness of God”. Then God must somehow think the way we think or at least as we can imagine.

14:22–25 The sadness of betrayal was followed by the comfort of Jesus’ New Covenant. The Church has struggled long with the meaning of “Take; this is My body” and “This is My blood of the covenant.”
They are best understood as symbols in the same way that “Living water ” (Jn.7:38),“the Bread of Life” (Jn.6:35) ,  “the Word” made flesh (Jn.1:14),Seed in the ground (Jn.12:24) and “The Temple” (Jn.2:19) represent much larger truths without becoming icons in themselves.

Let us not miss “the Covenant” established under Moses and wonderfully revised by Christ's atonement.

“Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you….’ (Ex.24:8)
”But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord; I will put My law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And no long shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying 'Know the Lord', for they shall all know Me, from the last of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity and I will remember their sin no more." (Jer.31:31–2 ; Heb.8:8–12)

There is also a note of hope, even of triumph, in the last words, ”…until that day when I drink it new in My Father’s kingdom.”

14:26 In the Mount of Olives Jesus gave His second warning, of their mass defection. He cited Scripture, “I will strike the Shepherd and the sheep will be scattered.” (Zech.13:7). Then He followed it with a word of hope: He will go ahead of them into Galilee after the Resurrection.
Peter and the rest assured Jesus that they would never defect, but Jesus told Peter that he would fall the hardest.

14:32–42 The scene at Gethsemane is breath-taking. This was the most critical and dangerous hour in the history of the world. Would it have happened if He had refused the cup and foiled the plan? The Son of God was tempted to the breaking point. Gethsemane means “oil press” and is in harmony with the oppression He felt. He was distressed, troubled, overwhelmed, sorrowful to the point of death. Twice He begged “Abba, Father, all things are possible with Thee; remove this cup from Me.” He begged God to let Him escape the torture and death that awaited Him. Many men have faced death with less fear, but no one has ever had to face what He faced—separation from the Father-- a death beyond imagination. And twice He surrendered to the Father’s will. After the third prayer, He was resolved and steeled to face the brutality and pain and rejection to come. We must understand that the Father’s answer to the Beloved Son’s most ardent prayer was “No.”

Peter, James and John were to watch with Him but they were exhausted and useless. “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”

14: 41–52 Judas led the posse of the spiritual leaders of Israel that captured Him. Clubs and swords were not appropriate for a peaceful temple teacher, but one of Jesus’ band had a sword and tried to kill the High Priest’s servant. His disciples ran away, including a youth in a sheet. Why that flash is in the narrative is hard to understand and we are tempted to amusement. Some think it was the future author, young John Mark himself.

14:53–65 Jesus was taken to the High Priest’s house. The scene was not so much a trial as a preliminary hearing, a grand jury that could ask any question, but could not convict or sentence. The witnesses garbled Jesus’ prophetic word. (Jn.2:19). What they should have said was “Destroy this templeof my body and in three days I will raise it up.” Everyone knew that they were saying it wrong. Finally, in frustration,  the high priest invited Jesus to incriminate Himself: “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”

In order to ask such a question, the high priest must know that The Son of God exists ( a problem for monotheists) and he must have heard on good authority that Jesus had made such a claim. Really, the only other person who had said that was Peter: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!” (Matt.16:16),  but He had said it in the company of the other disciples, not in a crowd where it would be telegraphed. The High Priest used the “Blessed” in order to avoid using the name of God. Jesus confirmed his statement.

Jesus’ ringing declaration can be separated into three parts

•“I  AM”. That is, He is "the Son of the Blessed". But He is also the great I AM (JHWH in Hebrew) as He previously told his Jewish audience. (Jn.8:58).
•“…you will see the Son of Man seated [as Lord] at the right hand of Power.”
David wrote prophetically, “The LORD says to my Lord, Sit at My right hand till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” (Psa.110:1).And Hebrews amplifies: “When He had made purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high….” (Heb.1:3)
•“…and coming with the clouds of Heaven.” Daniel describes Him “…with the clouds of heaven there came one like a Son of man and He came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him….” (Dan.7:13–14. See Acts 1:9–11--"coming with the clouds of heaven.")

Let no one say that He did not claim to be God! He claimed the sacred name for God (JHWH in Hebrew). He claimed the Lord’s right to the place of power. He prophesied His return in glory as the Son of Man. He did so in the most official and authoritative setting of His day.

We should not miss the phrase “ and you shall see….” The Jewish rulers all died some 2000 years ago.

Zechariah said  “…when they look on Him who they have pierced, they shall mourn Him, as one mourns for an only child....” (Zech.12:10).
And John says  the same: “Behold, He is coming with the clouds and every eye will see Him, everyone who pierced Him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of Him.“ (Rev.1:7)
And Jesus Himself said  “…then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.’ (Matt.24:30)

Can it be that Jesus' contemporaries will see His return? The resurrection of the unrighteous dead is rarely discussed but is a definite Scriptural teaching. (Dan.12:2; Jn.5:29). Jesus’ word came as a serious warning to these unbelieving men.

" the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father." (Phil.2:10–11)

The cry was “blasphemy” and the abuse began.

14:66–72. Meanwhile, Peter came into the courtyard of the high priest’s house, and stood by the fire, keeping warm. He came farther than any of the rest of the disciples, but he was tired, dismayed, angry and scared. A servant-girl recognized him as being with Jesus and he denied it. The second time, she enlisted the bystanders who thought he was from Galilee. The third time the bystanders were sure he was from Galilee and Peter damned himself to get away from them. Why he did not run away at the first encounter is hard to understand. The sound of a chicken crowing woke his memory of Jesus’ prophecy and he crashed.

In summary

•Acts of pure devotion are precious in the sight of the Lord.
•Sleeping on the job was forgiven. Desertion was forgiven. Denial under pressure will be forgiven. Betrayal was not forgiven.
•Jesus was carrying out a plan which included small details like where to eat supper, and planning a briefing session that would occur after He died and was raised to life again!
•Jesus submitted to the Father’s will to the point of death.
•Jesus is seated at the right hand of Power. (Heb.1:3)

He was faithful to death for you. You can trust Him with your life.