Mark 14  Chapter Study

II. JESUS IN JUDEA        CHS. 10-16

G. The Last Week Chs. 11-16

3. Tuesday 11:20-14:11

l.   the plot to kill Him  14:1-2

1After two days it was the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take Him by trickery and put Him to death. 2But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar of the people.”

The Passover was one of 3 feasts all Jewish adult males living within 15 miles of Jerusalem had to attend in the City.

Anyone living outside that circle could celebrate where ever they lived.

But at least once in his lifetime, he had to do his best to celebrate the feast in Jerusalem.

Many Jews made it a regular practice to travel great distances to celebrate the feast in the City.

These pilgrims filled Jerusalem to overflowing.

In fact, the Jewish historian Josephus said that in 65 AD the Roman governor asked the High Priest to keep track of how many Passover lambs were sacrificed.  The count was 256,500!

The rules said there was to be a minimum of 10 people per lamb, so that means there were some 3 million who participated in the feast that year!

Passover was a celebration of Israel’s deliverance from oppression, and it was always a time when feelings of nationality ran high.

If there was ever a moment when the people yearned to be free of the Roman yoke. It was during Passover.

This is why the Roman governor Pilate, who normally lived in the city of Caesarea on the coast was in Jerusalem.

During Passover, the governor would always come, backed by many new troops to reinforce the Roman position in Jerusalem against an uprising.

The priests knew how easily inflamed the crowds could become and how quickly things could get out of control, so though they wanted desperately to do away with Jesus, they dared not make a public move against Him during Passover.

m. the anointing at Bethany 14:3-9

3And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head.

As Tuesday draws to an end, Jesus leads the disciples back to Bethany, but instead of going to the house of Lazarus, they go to another man’s house – Simon.

We don’t know much about this man, other than that he was no longer a leper because he was living in a house in a village – things a leper was not allowed to do.

Simon was undoubtedly one of those Jesus had healed.

In gratitude he wanted to entertain Jesus by serving dinner.

While they’re reclining at the table, a woman entered carrying a cut stone flask of expensive perfume.

These flasks were made in such a way that once the oil was poured in them & the seal inserted, it could not be removed.

The way you accessed the perfume was by breaking the thin neck of the flask.  Then you’d pour the oil into a new container.

Not only was this perfume very expensive, the flask itself was costly – a work of art.  This was something you purchased as an investment.

This woman, who John tells us was Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha & Lazarus, takes this precious treasure and pours it liberally on Jesus’ head & feet, then lowers her hair and begins to wipe His feet with it.

4But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? 5For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her sharply. 6But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me.

John tells us the origin of this criticism was Judas, and the only reason he complained was because he kept the purse for the group and was pilfering from it.

He would rather Mary had donated the flask to Jesus. That way Judas could have benefited personally from it.

The value of this gift was 300 denarii.

A denarius was equal to a day’s wage – so this was a whole year’s earnings – spent in one lavish act of worship & devotion.

Where would Mary have acquired such a precious treasure?

She lived in the humble village of Bethany – she wasn’t wealthy.

Many Bible students understand that this flask of perfume was Mary’s life savings – given her by her father and meant to be her dowry.

This is what she would give to her husband on their wedding day.

But she spent it all on Jesus head & feet.

Then, as John tells us in his gospel, she let down her hair wiped His feet with it.

The only time a woman let down her hair was in the privacy of her bed-chamber with her husband as an act of intimacy with Him.

A woman’s hair was her glory, and the symbol of her being under authority.

So understand that when Mary poured the perfume on Jesus, then loosed her hair & used it to wipe His feet, she was making a very public statement of giving herself to Jesus – not in a lewd or lascivious manner, but a total giving of herself to Him.

She was saying that there was no man in her life but Him.

She would remain single & a virgin because her heart belonged to Jesus.

While Judas & a few others murmured about the waste – Jesus commended her & said what she had done was no waste at all but a good work.

7For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always.

Judas said the flask could have been better used in giving to the poor.

But Jesus corrects this thinking.

There will always be needs in the world around us because this world is fallen and the effects and evidences of sin are all around us.

There will always be the needy to attend to.

But the primacy & priority of attending to Jesus & cultivating our relationship & intimacy with Him must not be misplaced or pre-empted by anything.

When work for Jesus takes the place of Jesus Himself, we’ve misplaced our priorities.

Jesus commends Mary’s extravagant worship of Him, even when it means the poor are bypassed.

Yet, He had told the parable of the Good Samaritan about religious people who erred by not stopping to help a man in need, excusing themselves because they were on the way to the temple to worship.

Is this a contradiction?  How can Jesus commend Mary but condemn the priest & scribe in the parable of the Good Samaritan?

The answer is simple: Mary’s worship was real & selfless, theirs wasn’t.

And there’s a vast difference between the attitude which says in a general kind of way, “We should help the poor,” and being confronted with an actual case of need, as in the parable with a man lying bleeding to death in the middle of the road.

If you asked the priest & scribe as they made their way along the road from Jericho to Jerusalem if people should help the poor, they would have talked your ear off about how important charity is.

At the same time, if Mary had stumbled across a man lying bleeding in the road on the way to Simon’s house that night to anoint Jesus, she would have stopped and taken care of him.

Jesus in NOT saying that we ought not help the poor; on the contrary, He assumes we will.

What He says is that worship of & devotion to Him must come before & are the basis of all true charity.

8She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial.

Of all of Jesus followers, Mary was the only one who seems to have been in tune with what Jesus had been saying, that He was soon to be killed.

9Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”

What a handful of the disciples had viciously criticized & sought to turn into an act of ridicule, Jesus says will become an example and eternal testimony of greatness.

Our study of this passage right here and now is a fulfillment of what Jesus prophesied.

What can we learn from Mary’s act of worship?

1) It was costly.

2) It was extravagant.

3) It was selfless.

4) It was total.

5) It was uninhibited.

6) It was potentially embarrassing.

7) Its focus was Jesus - alone.

8) It brought a delightful scent to others.

n.  Judas agrees to betray Jesus  14:10-11

10Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Him to them. 11And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. So he sought how he might conveniently betray Him.

The lessons of servanthood, on greatness, on dying to self; all of these had been totally lost on Judas.

He followed Jesus for one reason, and one reason only – personal advancement!

Jesus was the means to Judas’ end – which was to set himself up in a position of influence, power & wealth.

But recently, Jesus’ repeated comments about being arrested & executed had caused Judas to reassess his position.

Things were not working out the way he’d anticipated when he began following Jesus three years before.

His meal ticket had been punched for the last time and this little episode with Mary capped it – Jesus had no concern for the things Judas did and it was time to jump ship.

He calculated how we could turn his relationship with Jesus into cash, and decided to approach the priests whom he knew through his contacts were just itching for some way to get rid of Jesus quietly.

4.  Wednesday 14:12-72

a.  The Last Supper 14:12-25

12Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they killed the Passover lamb, His disciples said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare, that You may eat the Passover?”

As Passover drew near, the disciples asked Jesus where they were going to celebrate it.

Mark tells us they asked this on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

This feast begins on the Day of Passover & goes for 8 days.

Now, I need to let you know that there is much discussion among students of the Bible over how to interpret the gospel record of this period.

Matthew, Mark, & Luke, all record the Last Supper as a Passover meal.

But John says that the Last Supper was before the Passover & that Jesus was crucified when the Passover lambs were being slain.[1]

How do we reconcile this?

There are several rather complicated solutions different commentators & scholars suggest, but the one that does the best job of solving the dilemma is this –

Because the crowds of pilgrims flocking into Jerusalem were so great at this time, there was no way the priests could sacrifice all the lambs in one day, so by necessity they had split the Passover into 2 days – one on the real Passover for all those who live within that 15 mile circle around Jerusalem, and the day before Passover, for all the pilgrims who came from outside that circle.

Because Jesus and the disciples were from Galilee, they would have celebrated their Passover the day before – our Wednesday evening, or Thursday in the Jewish reckoning (since the new day begins in the evening, when the first 3 stars appear.)

This works perfectly. It means . . .

Jesus celebrated the Last Supper as the Passover meal on Thursday.

He was crucified on Thursday (not Friday) and so really was in the tomb for 3 days.

He was crucified as our Passover when the Passover lambs were being slain on the temple mount not far away.

13And He sent out two of His disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him. 14Wherever he goes in, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?” ’ 15Then he will show you a large upper room, furnished and prepared; there make ready for us.” 16So His disciples went out, and came into the city, and found it just as He had said to them; and they prepared the Passover. 17In the evening He came with the twelve. 18Now as they sat and ate, Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you who eats with Me will betray Me.” 19And they began to be sorrowful, and to say to Him one by one, “Is it I?” And another said,Is it I?” 20He answered and said to them, It is one of the twelve, who dips with Me in the dish. 21The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had never been born.”

Jesus knew all about Judas’ deal with the priests & how it would all pan out.

In fact, Jesus knew about Judas 3 years earlier when He first called him to be a disciple.

Yet still, in His infinite mercy & grace, Jesus gave Judas an opportunity to see in as close a way as possible how much God loved him and how wide open the door to forgiveness was.

What Jesus does & says here is something all of us need to take to heart.

Jesus knew Judas would betray Him – how he was already at work to do so.

Yet Jesus is being friendly and gracious to Judas.

Remember what we looked at some time ago- that forgiveness is not something you pass out offense by offense?

Rather, it’s a posture you stand in, so that when offenses come you don’t let them wound you?

A careful study of the gospels shows that Jesus had placed Judas at his left, in the seat of honor though he was the most dishonorable man on the planet at that point.

In fact, Jesus said that it would have been better if he’d never been born.

Judas was utterly lost– he never repented – he died in his sins & will suffer the chief agonies of hell for all eternity.

That’s why it would have been better if he had never been born.

And as dishonorable & despicable as Judas was, Jesus shared His bowl with him.

If you’re like most, chances are, somewhere, sometime, a friend will betray you.

 A loved one will turn his/her back on you & do or say something incredibly hurtful.

You will look back over your friendship & say to yourself, “If I had known, I never would have been so friendly, so kind, caring & giving.”

Jesus knew – He didn’t suspect Judas was a rat, a fink, a narc, He knew!

And He still loved & accepted him & treated him as a friend – right up to the end!

Is there someone who’s hurt you deeply?  A friend who betrayed you?

Do you struggle with anger & bitterness; just wishing you could get back at them for the hurt & betrayal they inflicted on you?

The same Jesus who loved & served Judas lives in you, & He can enable you to let go of that hurt and sense of betrayal.

He wants to set you free, not only from the guilt of your sins, but the hurt of the sins committed against you.

22And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” 23 Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 And He said to them, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many. 25 Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

Jesus inaugurates the practice of Communion, the Lord’s Supper.

He installs a new covenant–a new relationship between God and man.

The previous covenant had been in force since the days of Moses when God made a covenant with the nation of Israel at Mt. Sinai.

That covenant was based on the Law – and agreement that if the Jews obeyed God’s law, He would bless & protect them.

The covenant Jesus makes brings a new relationship between God and man.

This covenant is based wholly and solely in the Person of Jesus.

He becomes the vehicle through which we can enter into unbroken fellowship with God.

In the breaking of His body & the shedding of His blood, our sins are forever atoned for & our relationship to God moves from one of performance to one of identity.  Jesus makes us sons & daughters of God.

Just as God gave ancient Israel a sign and memorial of her covenant with Him in the weekly observance of the Sabbath day, so Jesus gives the disciples a memorial of the new covenant – the bread & wine.

Question - If the memorial sign of the law was observed once every 7 days, how often can/ought we take communion as a marker of our relationship with God?

We celebrate Communion here at CCO once a month – but that ought not be the only time we take communion.

b.  in Gethsemane  14:26-42

26And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

The Passover meal ended with a traditional song.

After this they left the rented room they’d used for the meal & went out to the Mt. of Olives.

Because the Passover was considered an extra Sabbath day, they couldn’t make the trek all the way back to Bethany that night.

The little Garden of Gethsemane there on the side on the Mt. of Olives would be as far as they could go.

27Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written:

Jesus quotes from Zech 13:7 . . .

 ‘I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered.’ 28“But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.” 29Peter said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be.

Peter assumes Jesus is speaking in generalities.

He thinks he knows himself well enough to say that while the others might not have the spine to face what’s coming, he does!

Now really!  Peter ought to have known better than to argue with Jesus.

Not only does Jesus have a really good record when it comes to speaking the truth, He here quoted the Prophet Zechariah.

Did Peter think he could make the Word of God -- wrong?

30Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.”

You would think this would shut Peter up – but it only serves to provoke him more.

31But he spoke more vehemently, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And they all said likewise.

We read this & shake our heads at the utter foolishness of these men.

Yet hold on – we do the exact same thing, almost every day!

Whenever we give in to temptation & yield to sin, in effect we’re saying that the Word of God is wrong & we know better.

32Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane;

Which means “oil press.”

There’s a rather obscure little cave at the base of the Mt. of Olives with some indications it was used as an olive press at this period of history.

A growing number of scholars believe it may very well be the site of Gethsemane.

 and He said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33And He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be troubled and deeply distressed. 34Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.” 35He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. 36And He said, “Abba, [Aramaic = Papa] Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.

This was it, the moment of truth when Jesus had to deal with the reality of the challenge that lay right before Him.

He asked all the disciples to pray, but took Peter, James, & John a bit further & asked them to set up a kind of spiritual guard while He went a few paces further then poured out His soul to the Father.

V. 36 is Jesus’ prayer as a man – asking God if there was any possible way, to deliver Him from the trail to come.

His prayer provides a good model for us.

We don’t know the end – only God sees the end so we must trust Him.

We don’t understand how the incredibly painful trial we’re enduring is actually working for us an exceeding weight of glory.

Jesus sufferings brought salvation for all those who put their faith in Him.

His death brings redemption from the curse.

His life brings victory over death, sin, and satan.

But it could only come through the torments of His trial.

Being totally surrendered to God does not guarantee a trouble or pain free life.

But it does promise that the pain and trouble we endure serves a redemptive purpose.

It is a fire that purifies us and makes us more precious to God.

37Then He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour? 38Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

The reason Jesus had called them to prayer was for their benefit, not His.

They would all soon be faced with the trial of His arrest and the challenge to how they would identify with Him.

Only prayer would prepare them for the coming trial.

Jesus says something crucial here in v. 38 . . .

The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

So what’s the remedy?  Prayer!  Diligent persevering prayer.

39Again He went away and prayed, and spoke the same words.

Critics have asked – “If the disciples were asleep, how did they know what Jesus was praying?”

They didn’t nod off the very second Jesus stepped away from them.

They fell asleep after they heard His urgent requests of God.

Let’s not be too hard on the disciples here for falling asleep.

The hour is very late.

They consumed not a little wine at the Passover meal.

And they are listening to Jesus as He pours over & over the same request which they don’t really grasp.

40And when He returned, He found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy; and they did not know what to answer Him.

They were baffled over what was going on.

41Then He came the third time and said to them, “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. 42Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”

c.  the betrayal & arrest 14:43-52

43And immediately, while He was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. 44Now His betrayer had given them a signal, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him and lead Him away safely.”

It was customary for disciples to kiss their rabbi on the check when they were re-united with them.

Notice that Judas told the authorities to lead Jesus away safely.

Apparently he had no knowledge of what they wanted Jesus for.

Judas may have thought he was only helping Jesus take His rightful place as the King of Israel by forcing this show-down with the nation’s leaders.

Everything up to this point had only been a threat on the part of the priests.

But when they come out to Gethsemane as an armed mob to arrest Him, certainly then He’d call an end to their shenanigans & finally take His place on the throne.

45As soon as he had come, immediately he went up to Him and said to Him, “Rabbi, Rabbi!” and kissed Him. 46Then they laid their hands on Him and took Him. 47And one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.

This was Peter – who with this swing of his sword proved he was only a fisherman & armed warfare was not his forte.

48Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? 49I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.”

Jesus might be referring to either Zech 13:7 He’d quoted in v. 27, or Isa. 53:12 which says He was “numbered among the transgressors.”

50Then they all forsook Him and fled.

While all the disciples took off at this point, at least John & Peter doubled back and followed the mob at a distance.

51Now a certain young man followed Him, having a linen cloth thrown around his naked body. And the young men laid hold of him, 52and he left the linen cloth and fled from them naked.

Mark is the only one to record this and for that reason, many believe the young man was none other than Mark himself.

Very early church tradition says that the Last Supper was held in Mark’s home.

When they sang the final hymn, it woke young Mark up, and not wanting to miss where Jesus was going, he hurriedly grabbed a linen sheet off the bed and wrapped himself in it like a toga.

When the mob that arrested Jesus was on it’s way back to town, Mark tried to tag along, but some of the mob realized he wasn’t part of their party & that could only mean he was one of Jesus’ crew.

When they tried to grab him, he got away by just letting go of the sheet he’d wrapped up in.

d.  the trial 14:53-65

53And they led Jesus away to the high priest; and with him were assembled all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes. 54But Peter followed Him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he sat with the servants and warmed himself at the fire. 55Now the chief priests and all the council sought testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none. 56For many bore false witness against Him, but their testimonies did not agree.

Under Jewish law, a person could not be convicted of a capital crime on the basis of circumstantial evidence or the testimony of just one person.

There had to be a minimum of 2 witnesses, preferably 3, whose testimonies agreed.

They couldn’t get even 2 witnesses to agree in their testimony against Jesus – and this was in a stacked court!

It wasn’t like Jesus had an advocate who was cross-examining the witnesses.

They were giving their own stories, and as the court listened, there were inconsistencies & contradictions galore.

There were so many breaches of justice and violations of Jewish law in this trial it’s incredible.

Actually, the errors the Sanhedrin committed in the trial of Jesus were so many and so severe, every one of the members of the Court ought to have lost their seat.

57Then some rose up and bore false witness against Him, saying, 58“We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.’ ” 59But not even then did their testimony agree.

These men knowingly twisted the Words of Jesus and turned what He’d obviously meant by the temple of His body, and made it sound like He was talking about the physical temple.

Speaking blasphemously about the temple was a serous crime.

When they couldn’t find any witnesses who could make a case against Jesus, the High Priest decided to go right to the source . . .

60And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, saying, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?” 61But He kept silent and answered nothing.

Under Jewish law, a defendant could not be compelled to testify against himself.

So when the high priest put the challenge to Jesus, He remained silent.

Then the high priest, using the power of his office, put Jesus under an oath to God that demanded He answer.

Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” 62Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

There it is!  Jesus not only claims to be the Messiah – He is the Son of God, and the Judge of Earth.

63Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “What further need do we have of witnesses? 64You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?” And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death. 65 Then some began to spit on Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him, and to say to Him, “Prophesy!” And the officers struck Him with the palms of their hands.

In the face of Jesus’ clear claim to be the Messiah and God’s Son, the Sanhedrin has only 2 options:

1) Believe & worship.

2) Reject & ridicule.

They chose the later, & having done so, go wild in the expression of their hatred of Jesus.

e.  Peter denies Jesus 14:66-72

66Now as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came. 67And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with Jesus of Nazareth.” 68But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you are saying.” And he went out on the porch, and a rooster crowed. 69And the servant girl saw him again, and began to say to those who stood by, “This is one of them.” 70But he denied it again. And a little later those who stood by said to Peter again, “Surely you are one of them; for you are a Galilean, and your speech shows it.71Then he began to curse and swear, “I do not know this Man of whom you speak!” 7 A second time the rooster crowed. Then Peter called to mind the word that Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” And when he thought about it, he wept.

We covered this last Sunday.

[1] John 13:1,29  18:28  19:14, 36