IN THE GARDEN

Mark 14:32-51

BRIEF INTRO:

We are about to enter the garden with Jesus and the disciples on the night Judas Iscariot betrayed Him, thanks to Mark and the other gospel writers who take us there through their written accounts of this event. If you somehow missed seeing the humanity of Christ throughout this book so far, you won’t be able to do so in the garden.

In the garden of Gethsemane, we see the humanity of Jesus Christ displayed in jaw-dropping transparency. Jesus is shown to be anything but above temptation. “Far from sailing serenely through His trials like some superior being unconcerned with this world, He is almost dead with distress” (Moule gospel of Mark, pg. 117).

It appears illogical to assume that the early church would have generated a story like this one and then included it in the “written Word” if not for the fact that it is true. Just as the rest of scripture is given to us with “astonishing fidelity,” so is this account of what happened in the garden. How can we possibly fathom what that means, much less what it looks like, without such deliberate honesty from the gospel writers?

Did I grab your interest yet? Let’s dig in!

32 They *came to a place named [a]Gethsemane; and He *said to His disciples, “Sit here until I have prayed.” 33 And He *took with Him Peter, [b]James, and John, and began to be very distressed and troubled. 34 And He *said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and [c]keep watch.” 35 And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began praying that if it were possible, the hour might [d]pass Him by. 36 And He was saying, “Abba! [e]Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.”

FOCUS ONE: Jesus and the disciples in Gethsemane 32-42

Gethsemane “*was a garden located somewhere on the lower slopes of the Mount of Olives, in which there were olive trees and olive presses. It was one of Jesus’ favorite spots (Luke 22:39; John 18:2).” It was here where He faced one of His most crucial tests. He enters the garden with the remaining eleven disciples (remember Judas Iscariot left them to betray Jesus to the Chief priest). At some point and some distance into the garden, He tells eight of them to sit at the spot they are at, and He takes Peter, James, and John with Him.

I cannot say with absolute certainty why He took these men with Him further into the garden, as He is facing sorrow so gripping to His soul. Most people would try to be alone during a grievous time like this, but not our Lord. Perhaps, as MacArthur opines, “Jesus likely had them accompany Him into the garden because they were the leaders of the twelve and had to learn an important lesson to pass on to the others.” Or, as one commentator puts it, “He must have felt the need for their presence in this time of crisis.” Whatever the reasoning, He takes these three men with Him a little farther into the garden.

As they walk, Jesus expresses His feelings to them. Men take note of this. It is not weak, unmanly, or abnormal to share our “feelings” with those we trust. Jesus tells them. “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death.” Was He exaggerating for effect? Doubtful. In these very expressive words, Jesus described an extremely acute emotion. A mix of Fear, uncertainty, and anxiety “that is nowhere else portrayed in such vivid terms as here.”

What He is going through at this time is directly related to what He is about to experience for the world’s redemption. In other words, His sorrow was so severe that it threatened to cause His death as He spoke to them! Don’t just read over that and move on without some pause.

After expressing His feelings, He tells these three men to remain there, and He goes a little further on His own into the garden (v. 35). He tells them to “remain here and keep watch.” A little later, He tells them to “keep watching and praying.” His words were not suggestions; instead, they were imperatives (commands) in the original language (Both verbs in the aorist tense, imperative mood, and active voice). Perhaps He wanted them to stay awake and keep watch for those He knew would be coming to seize Him. At this point in the account from Mark, we get an intimate view of the sorrow of Jesus as well as a “fly on the wall” hearing of His prayers to the Father!

His prayer begins with Him asking His Father if it were possible to let the cup pass from Him (v. 36). Jesus knew that it was within the Father’s power and omniscience to fulfill His redemptive will in any other way, an “alternate plan of redemption.” And, He also knew that whether such an alternate plan was according to His will, He would be obedient, even to death, on a cruel cross. 

Again we find much practical application for us in these verses. Jesus knew what the Father’s will was and was deeply burdened by it. So much so that He asks if there could be any other way to fulfill it. He took His burdens over God’s revealed will to Him before His Father in prayer. It is ok for us to bring our burdens before our Heavenly Father. He wants to hear from us (1 Peter 5:7). But just like Jesus (the other side of the coin, if you will), we must be willing to move forward in obedience to His revealed will when it is clear that His divine will has not changed! His will MUST always supersede our own (v.36).

37 “And He *came and *found them sleeping, and *said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not [a]keep watch for one hour? 38 [b]Keep watching and praying, so that you will not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 And again He went away and prayed, saying the same [c]words. 40 And again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy; and they did not know what to say in reply to Him. 41 And He *came the third time, and *said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? That is enough. The hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is being [d]betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Get up, let’s go; behold, the one who is betraying Me is near!”

FOCUS TWO: The importance of prayer

“Keep watching and praying” are words that are meant for the reader. How easy it this for you and I to become complacent, apathetic, and indifferent in our Christian walk. Yes, they were tired; they had a busy couple of days before they entered the garden with Jesus, but as we read in this portion of scripture, Jesus still commanded them to “keep watch” and to “pray.” Constancy and vigilance were required at this time as prophecy was about to be fulfilled when the betrayer would soon be upon them.

We witness a contrast in Mark’s count between Jesus and Peter, James, and John. 

Jesus:                                                               Peter, James, and John

Tired but prayed. Tired and slept

Deeply grieved over coming events Indifferent to coming events

Discerning Lacked discernment

Relied on the Father Self-confident

Sought strength from His Father. Spiritually unprepared 

Willing to do the Father’s will Spirit willing, but the flesh was weak

We are so much like these men that we would do well in withholding judgment against them. They did not understand that spiritual victory only comes to those alert in prayer, depending on God, and confident in His omnipotence and omniscience in all things. We would do well to learn this lesson.

Jesus was “deeply grieved to the point of death” (v. 34). He was about to endure “the fury of God over sin.” Not for His sins, He had none, but for the sins of the world (John 3:16). But even though He carried this heavy burden, such sorrow beyond our comprehension, His resolve to be obedient to His Father and do His will was absolute! “Yet not what I will, but what you will” (v. 36). 

But, as seen above in the comparison I listed, those three men couldn’t stay awake and keep watch for Judas Iscariot and the crowd that was coming for Jesus. “Are you stillsleeping and resting? It is enough” (v. 41).

The hour has come. What does He mean by that? You might remember that at other times Jesus stated that “my hour has not yet come” (John 2:4). Jesus was working on a divine timeline, not a human one. Before the foundations of the world were laid, the triune godhead made the plan for the redemption of fallen mankind. So many things would have to be fulfilled over a vast amount of time before the “lamb which takes away the sins of the world” would be handed over to evil men and be crucified. That time has arrived. Judas Iscariot was on the way with an unruly crowd behind Him (Psalm 41:9).

43 “And immediately, while He was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, *came up, [a]accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs who were from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. 44 Now he who was betraying Him had given them a signal, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the one; arrest Him and lead Him away [b]under guard.” 45 And after coming, Judas immediately went to Him and *said, “Rabbi!” and kissed Him. 46 And they laid hands on Him and arrested Him. 47 But one of those who stood by drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and [c]cut off his ear. 48 And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me, as you would against a man inciting a revolt? 49 Every day I was with you within the temple grounds teaching, and you did not arrest Me; but this has taken place so that the Scriptures will be fulfilled.” 50 And [d]His disciples all left Him and fled.

51 A young man was following Him, wearing nothing but a linen sheet over his naked body; and they *seized him.”

FOCUS THREE: Betrayed with a kiss (43-51)

Judas comes with an armed crowd into the garden, where he knows from experience that Jesus would be there. He is not alone. A mob of people wielding swords and clubs is with him. Unlike many “unruly” crowds that gather today and wreak havoc in our cities, this mob was a carefully selected group of people brought together to arrest Jesus so He could be put to death.

This was no small crowd. It consisted of people from among the chief priests, scribes, and elders, as well as a full Roman cohort (could have been as many as 600 soldiers) that sought to arrest Jesus and take Him to Annas first (John 18:12). But how would Judas Iscariot be able to “point out” Jesus? How would this crowd know who to take prisoner? Judas had thought of this and so gave them a signal so that they would recognize Jesus. The signal? “Whomever I kiss” (v. 44).

It seems odd to me that a signal of any type would be needed. After all, Jesus spent a lot of time teaching in the temple, a very public place. They should have known what He looked like! They would have seen Him often. 

Notice how Jesus was treated. They come out for Him with violent, hate-filled fury. A man that has only done good for everyone that came around Him. A man, the messiah, filled with love, healing the sick and offering forgiveness of their sins! And none of that matters; they only want one thing-to silence Him for good!

Things have not changed much, have they? When a person speaks out about their faith in Christ today when they stand for biblical virtue in defiance of the current culture and its morality. When they say no to evil and share the only hope of forgiveness-Jesus Christ, they too are hated with much fury, and the “crowd” seeks to silence (cancel) them.

Judas approaches Jesus and embraces Him. He betrays Christ with a kiss, an act of respect and affection. He chose an action that showed “1the closest love and affection, normally reserved for one with whom a person had a close, intimate relationship.” This scene always grieves my heart. It grieves me because such a signal was grossly evil and highly hypocritical. Think about it. Even today, what Judas Iscariot has done is used in a derogatory way when someone betrays us: “you Judas.” The rock band Nazareth released a song entitled “please don’t Judas me” in 1975.

Jesus is seized. Simon Peter draws his sword and cuts off the ear of a slave of the high priest (John 18:10). Mark leaves out various details such as this in his short account. Jesus expresses a “Righteous resentment” against their seizure of Him, especially how they had one it (vv. 48-49). And then we read these heartbreaking words: “And they all left Him and fled” (v. 52). It is so disheartening to read of the failure of His disciples that day, but even more grievous to my soul knowing that I would have been one of them as well if I were there that day. So would you.

We believe that the young man who fled with nothing but a linen sheet over his body was the writer of this gospel, John Mark! But even the linen sheet was left behind (v. 52)! Fear triumphed over faith at that moment, and they all fled the area, not wanting to be taken with Him.

There is much speculation regarding why Mark was in the garden “wearing nothing but a linen sheet,” That would be an excellent topic for further study on your own. 

Lastly, but not unimportant by any means, is the fact that what is happening at this time in the garden is the fulfillment of scripture (Isaiah 53:7-9,12)! The Bible reveals myriads of prophecies about the messiah being fulfilled in Christ (for example, Genesis 3:15-Galatians 4:4; Micah 5:2-Luke 2:4,5,7)! 

“do not try to make the Bible relevant. It’s relevance is axiomatic. . .Do not defend God’s Word but testify to it. . .It is a ship loaded to the very limits of her capacity” (Bonhoeffer). 

*Expositors Bible Commentary 

1John MacArthur 

I WILL NOT DENY YOU

Mark 14:27-31

BRIEF RECAP:

What a fantastic dinner. From the disciple’s perspective, they would enjoy the Passover meal with Jesus and spend some much-needed and vastly overdue time alone with their teacher, messiah, and Lord. Some of which they did not understand fully. The sights and smells in the upper room that day were familiar to these men. The bread they would soon be eating and the cups of wine they would shortly be drinking were well-known objects of this feast. But to their surprise, Jesus establishes the truth of the New Covenant while eating a very familiar Passover celebration!

I am not sure what their faces may have looked like as Jesus said those words, “take it, this is my body” and “this is my blood of the covenant,” as they partook of those elements, but I can imagine a slight bit of pause and some weird looks to one another! 

At the end of the meal, they sing one of several hymns that were sung during the celebration. They then leave the upper room and walk to the Mount of Olives. This mountain stood between Bethany and Jerusalem. This is where our current study begins.

27 “And Jesus *said to them, “You will all [a]fall away, because it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I am raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”

FOCUS ONE: Jesus said to them

Jesus and the eleven disciples had just left the upper room where they had celebrated the Passover. Judas parted their company to betray Jesus (Matthew 26:14). 

Take notice of how different the tone of the conversation is now that they have left the upper room, and Jesus is much closer to the garden of Gethsemane, where He will be betrayed by Judas Iscariot and handed over to evil men. In those words, “I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered” (v. 27); Jesus predicts their fear and falling away when He is handed over (v. 27).

Jesus quoted from the prophet Zechariah (Zechariah 13:7):

“Awake, sword, against My Shepherd,

And against the Man, My Associate,”

Declares the Lord of armies.

“Strike the Shepherd and the sheep will be scattered;

And I will turn My hand [a]against the little ones.”

Zechariah is speaking of a future event. Preface to this section, the prophet was focused on the false prophets that were “*wounded in friends houses,” but now is speaking of the “true prophet wounded in the house of His friends, Israel.” MacArthur writes: “He compressed events of both the first (13:7) and second (13:8,9) Advents into this brief section. It spoke of Christ’s crucifixion (v.7) and the Jewish remnant at His second coming (vv. 8,9).” That is why Jesus refers to it with the disciples. 

These men will not only witness fulfilled prophecy but are the “scattered sheep” of the prophecy!

It is never wise to leave a person with only bad news. People need hope; they need encouragement to carry on. That is what Jesus gave them when He told them that He would rise again and go ahead to Galilee (v. 28)!

Take notice of the tense used when He speaks of being raised again. Not hopefully, or possibly, but after I have been raised! Christ speaks of His resurrection as an absolute fact! This is attested to elsewhere in the Bible. (Matthew 28:16; 17; Genesis 3:15, for example). We do not simply witness fulfilled prophecy in these verses, but in it being fulfilled, we glory at the Omniscience, omnipotence, and sovereignty of our God over all things!

29 “But Peter said to Him, “Even if they all [a]fall away, yet I will not!” 30 And Jesus *said to him, “Truly I say to you, that [b]this very night, before a rooster crows twice, you yourself will deny Me three times.” 31 But [c]Peter repeatedly said insistently, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And they all were saying the same thing as well.”

FOCUS TWO: Peter says to Him

Can you remember a time, maybe recently, when you affirmed your behavior or attitude would be a certain way regardless of the outcome of some future event, conversation, or meeting? Did it pan out that way when the time came? 

This is the case with Peter. Directly after the Lord tells them that all of them will flee, He makes a bold statement signifying the opposite. “Everyone else might, but not me.” Peter’s sincere but prideful statement is based on his false evaluation of himself. He views himself as more spiritually mature than he is, more steadfast in his devotion to Christ than the others. One other way we can define this moment would be “presumption.” Peter is overconfident in his future behavior even though his past behavior doesn’t back him up!

So, Peter Denied the Lord’s claim (does he know himself better than the Lord does)? If we’re honest, we’ll admit that we are just like Peter. We struggle with the same problem. Presuming things regarding ourselves, others, or the Lord, usually doesn’t end well. Scripture proves this time and time again (Deuteronomy 17:12; Daniel 5:20), and we are counseled against it (Romans 9:20; 15:18). 

The Lord answers Peter’s denial by giving more detailed information about what will happen in the not-so-distant future.

  1. That very night
  2. Before a rooster crows twice
  3. You will deny me three times

Again we witness Peters’s audacity in insisting He knew better than the Lord! “I will die for you!” At this point in the discussion, all the disciples were saying the same thing (v. 31). How little did they realize that their faith in Him would collapse as soon as they realized that He would not resist arrest or perform some supernatural act to save Himself (v. 50). How true the word’s of the Lord was, “The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak (v. 38). Praise the Lord that He is always faithful even when we are not (2 Timothy 2:13)!

How often do we presume something will happen one way or another?

Why do such presumptions betray our confidence and trust in the Lord?

The statement “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” summarizes the battle we face within (flesh vs. spirit). How is this evident in your own life daily?

IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME

Mark 14:12-31

BRIEF RECAP:

At the end of our last study, we left Jesus in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, where Mary anointed Him with some very costly perfume (14:3). Some of the disciples were upset with what she did, Judas Iscariot especially, since he was a thief and in charge of the money bag. We read how Jesus had a different view of her sacrifice and how she would be remembered for what she had done to Him “wherever the gospel is preached” (v. 9).

We also took notice of the sharp contrast between Mary and Judas. Mary was selfless, devoted, and giving. Judas, on the other hand, was selfishdeceitful, and greedy.

We ended that study as Judas Iscariot “went off to the chief priests in order to betray Him” (Jesus). As we continue our study of Mark, We will be meditating on the last Passover meal and how Jesus “transformed” the Passover into the Lord’s Supper, a memorial meal to remember what He had accomplished for us in our deliverance from sin!

12 “On the first day of [a]Unleavened Bread, when [b]the Passover lamb was being sacrificed, His disciples *said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?” 13 And He *sent two of His disciples and *said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you; follow him; 14 and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is My guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”‘ 15 And he himself will show you a large upstairs room furnished and ready; prepare for us there.” 16 The disciples left and came to the city, and found everything just as He had told them; and they prepared the Passover.

17 When it was evening He *came with the twelve. 18 And as they were reclining at the table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will [c]betray Me—[d]one who is eating with Me.” 19 They began to be grieved and to say to Him one by one, “Surely not I?” 20 But He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, the one who dips bread with Me in the bowl.”

FOCUS ONE: The last Passover

The feast of unleavened bread and the Passover are very closely related. The seven days observance of “unleavened bread” directly follows the Passover observance! The feast of unleavened bread lasted seven days, during which all yeast had to be removed from their dwellings. No one could eat anything that had yeast in it or “that person shall be cut off from Israel” (Exodus 12:15). On the first day of the feast as well as the seventh day, they were to hold “holy assemblies” or “holy days.” 

The celebration of Passover then began. The Passover lamb was slaughtered at twilight, and some of its blood was sprinkled on the altar. The lamb was taken home to be roasted and eaten in the evening with unleavened bread, bitter herbs, charoseth (a paste made of crushed pineapples, dates, pomegranates, and nuts, into which the bread was dipped), and wine (Exodus 12).

I share all that background with you because it is helpful to us in understanding the work that lay before Peter and John (the two disciples sent cr. Luke 22:8) as they go to “prepare” the Passover. 

I want to point out something exciting in Mark’s account. Places like this in scripture help us apply some of the big theological themes we hold in our Christianity. In this case, The Lord’s omniscience is on display! Take notice of their question: “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover” (v. 12)? 

Now, observe His answer (read 13-16). I will condense it here. He tells them that they will meet a man carrying a pitcher of water in the city. Follow him wherever he goes and then tell him, “the Teacher says, ‘where is MY guest room in which I may eat the passover with my disciples?” After they telPassoverese things, the Lord says that the man, without any argument, will show them a “large upper room furnished and ready.” So what happened? Everything Jesus said was going to take place, did, and they “found it just as he said” (v. 16).

In the evening, Jesus came with the disciples to celebrate the Passover. What is highlighted here by Mark is the Lord pointing out Judas Iscariot as His betrayer (v.v 17-21). He says, in front of all present, the one who is eating with Him, more clearly the one “who dips with Me in the bowl” (v. 20), is the one who will betray Him!

According to John’s gospel, it is at this point when Judas Iscariot leaves to betray the Lord (John 13:23-30), just as was prophesied in the Old Testament (Psalm 22; Isaiah 53).

As bad as this is, we need to remember and be encouraged by the fact that Jesus was not a victim! Everything that happened was according to God’s “predetermined plan and foreknowledge” (Acts 2:23)!

22 While they were eating, He took some bread, and [a]after a blessing He broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is My body.” 23 And when He had taken a cup and 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 covenant, which is being poured out for many. 25 Truly I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine again, until that day when I drink it, new, in the kingdom of God.”

26 And after singing a [b]hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

27 And Jesus *said to them, “You will all [c]fall away, because it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I am raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” 29 But Peter said to Him, “Even if they all [d]fall away, yet I will not!” 30 And Jesus *said to him, “Truly I say to you, that [e]this very night, before a rooster crows twice, you yourself will deny Me three times.” 31 But [f]Peter repeatedly said insistently, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And they all were saying the same thing as well.”

FOCUS TWO: The Lord’s supper instituted

We do not know at what part of the meal this took place. Some commentators say it’s most likely just before they eat the roasted lamb. 6

There are a few things here that we don’t want to miss. First, it is important to recognize that Jesus “*establishes the truth of the New Covenant while in the midst of eating the Passover.” When He said, “this is my body,” He gave a new meaning to eating the bread. When He said, “This is the blood of the covenant (new), which is poured out for many,” He gave a new meaning to the cup they drank from.

What the unleavened bread symbolized for generations has now been “transformed” by these words! “The unleavened bread symbolized the severing of the Israelites from their old life in Egypt” (slaves). From now on, the bread will represent Christ’s body that was given as a sacrifice for sin! The shedding of blood was always a requirement in establishing any covenant (Genesis 8:20; Exodus 24:5-8). This cup now represents the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed for “the remission of sins,” thereby establishing the New Covenant promised through the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

Another important point to make here regarding the institution of the Lord’s supper is that the elements represent something; they do not become something other than they are. This is contrary to Catholic teachings. The catechism quotes St. Thomas Aquinas in saying that “in this sacrament are the true body of Christ and His true blood  [and]is something that cannot be apprehended by the senses, but only by faith, which relies on divine authority” (CCC1381).

These elements represent something else, something grander, and they do not become it! There are two ways Mark and the other gospel writers could have stated what is going on with the elements. One way would be with the words “Touto estin” representing or standing for. Or, by using the words “Touto gignetai” which means something has become something else. IN ALL CASES, the gospel writers used the first meaning.

Lastly, we notice the promise of Jesus that “I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” What does He mean by this? One commentator explains it this way: “He vowed that He would not drink it in this festive way again until He can drink it anew. He will enjoy renewed table fellowship with His followers in a qualitatively new existence in the kingdom of God.” 

We are witnessing the transformation of the Passover meal into the Lord’s supper, yet everything was not “transformed” regarding the meal. The hymns, or most likely “Hallel,” were always sung in connection with the Passover. “The first two (Psalm 113-114) before the meal and the last four (Psalm 114-115) after it to conclude the evening observance. It’s probably the very one that is being referenced here.

19 “And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body, which is being given for you; do this in remembrance of Me” (LUKE 22:19).

23 “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night when He was betrayed, took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same way He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

27 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy way, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. 28 But a person must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For the one who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not properly recognize the [a]body. 30 For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number [b]are asleep. 31 But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.”

FOCUS THREE: This do in remembrance of me

Since the last Passover meal that Jesus had with the disciples and its transformation into “the Lord’s supper,” the church has understood its meaning and significance in daily life. Because New Testament believers understand that the new covenant promised in the book of Jeremiah has been ratified once and for all by the death of Christ (Hebrews 9:28), they celebrate this “memorial Meal” regularly in their corporate worship.

In the Corinthian passage, Paul uses the same terminology as our Lord did when He instituted the meal: “do this in remembrance of me.” There are important reasons why we observe the Lord’s Supper. The first reason would be focused on the congregation as a whole. “To show the Lord’s death till He comes (v. 26). Christ wants us to remember His sacrifice for us. To remember His being “wounded for our transgressions” (Isaiah 53:5). “There is a vivid portrayal of the redeeming sacrifice of the Christ of Calvary. His matchless life, His victorious sufferings, and His faithfulness even unto death are brought to mind,” and should lead us to bow humbly before Him in praise and thanksgiving.

But this, too, is a powerful presentation of the gospel for those in our sanctuaries who do not know Jesus as their savior. As each of the elements is explained during the meal, they point unbelievers to His physical incarnation, sacrificial death, resurrection, and His coming again for those who are His!

Another reason the church observes this communion meal on a regular basis is directed at the individual. Communion reminds the individual that Christ’s death was for them. More than simply being a “corporate” remembrance, it is an individual assessment. Christ died for us, yes. But Christ died for ME because of my guilt, unworthiness, and for my pardon!

So, we celebrate, meditate, and reflect on our lives in light of this glorious truth. As much as we glory in the cross work of our redeemer, we are also made aware of the wrongness of our sins, base desires, ungodly motives, vain ambitions, and hurtful attitudes, and then we are able to acknowledge our unworthiness and walk the “painful but necessary path of repentance again.”

Paul speaks of self-examination as we enter this meal (vv. 27,28). He cautions believers not to partake in “an unworthy way,” and exhorts his readers to examine themselves honestly in light of the cross. We ought to examine our hearts as we remember Christ. Are we about to “partake” in an unworthy manner? Am I doing this with the mindset of “just going through the motions? MacArthur gives some examples of self-reflection: “Ritualistically, indifferently, with an unrepentant heart, a spirit of bitterness, or any other ungodly attitude.” To do so not only dishonors the ceremony, but it also dishonors His body and blood, treating lightly the gracious sacrifice of Christ for us.”

So, we partake of this memorial meal, not because we are worthy, not because of any righteousness of our own, or because any magical thing takes place as a result. We come, we partake because Christ bids us to come! It is His table, and He has extended an invitation to us, to those He redeemed!

*John MacArthur 

The Bible Knowledge Commentary, pg, 178

Clyne W. Buxton

THE PLOT TO KILL JESUS

 

Mark 14:1-11

BRIEF INTRO:

We are now entering Mark’s passion narrative, the account of Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection. All of these upcoming events take place in or around Jerusalem. We previously meditated on Jesus’ response to the questions put before Him regarding the destruction of the temple and the manifestation of His kingdom. We now find Jesus in Bethany, the hometown of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus (John 11:1). A town located on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives, approximately two miles east of Jerusalem. Chapter fourteen opens with Mark revealing the plot of the chief priests and scribes to kill Jesus. Let’s begin!

14 “Now the Passover and Festival of Unleavened Bread were two days away; and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest Him covertly and kill Him; for they were saying, “Not during the festival, otherwise there will be a riot of the people.”

FOCUS ONE: THE PLOT

Mark begins this narrative by giving the reader a time marker. He mentions that Passover and unleavened bread were two days away. The Passover would have started on Thursday after sunset. Passover commemorated the “passing over” of the homes of the Israelites by the angel of death, who killed the first born of Egypt (Exodus 12:1-13:16). “The Passover began on the 14th day of Nisan (the first month of the Jewish calendar) with the slaying of the Passover lamb, and continued into the early hours of the 15th.” 

Unleavened bread was a feast commemorating the departure of the Israelites from Egypt (Exodus 23:15), and it began immediately after the Passover and lasted from the 15th to the 21st. 

Mark tells us that these celebrations or memorials were to begin in two days. Matthew, however, tells his readers that Jesus predicted that He would be crucified in “two days” (Matthew 26:2), which would be Friday because, as He states, it is Wednesday evening! Mark does not tell us how important that information is to the reader.

The chief priests and the scribes wanted to kill Jesus, but they didn’t know how to seize Him without the people getting upset. Trying to do something like that during the festival might cause a riot. The Greek word for “stealth” or “covertly” is the word(dolos). It means deceit, guile, or betrayal. It involves trickery and deception. They would have taken Him immediately if they could have, but fear of the people necessitated a more concealing approach!

As the passion narrative begins, we find that these leaders are looking for a way to seize and kill Jesus. Later in verse 10, we see Judas ready to betray the Lord. Judas becomes the man that fills in the blank spots in their plans!

3 “While He was in Bethany at the home of Simon [a]the Leper, He was reclining at the table, and a woman came with an alabaster vial of costly perfume of pure [b]nard. She broke the vial and poured the perfume over His head. But there were some indignantly remarking to one another, “Why has this perfume been wasted? For this perfume could have been sold for over three hundred [c]denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they were scolding her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone! Why are you bothering her? She has done a good deed for Me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me. She has done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for the burial. Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the entire world, what this woman has done will also be told in memory of her.”

FOCUS TWO: MARY ANOINTS JESUS

I mentioned earlier that Jesus was in Bethany at this time. More specifically, He was at the home of Simon, the leper. It seems this man is only mentioned in the New Testament concerning this story. At some point, Simon was healed by Jesus and prepared this dinner for Jesus to honor Him. Considering that there are many other “Simons,” a name prevalent on that day, we can be thankful that Matthew and Mark retained the name so we can distinguish him from the other Simons (Simon the Pharisee and Simon Peter, the apostle, for example).

Matthew and Mark both place this meal at the home of Simon the Leper. John informs us that Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were also at this meal and that it was Mary, Martha’s sister, who took the costly perfume and anointed Jesus’s feet (John 12:1-3). Mary comes forward on her initiative, humbly and sacrificially, to show her love and adoration for the Lord. Little did she realize the greater significance of her act!

She offers her costly perfume and pours it over Jesus’ head. One pound of “very costly perfume of pure nard” was equivalent to a year’s wages. This “nard” was an oil extracted from the root of a plant grown in India. She gives freely from her heart! We can picture those eating, reclining at the table with their feet extended away from it, making it easy for Mary to anoint the feet of Jesus. What she did, she probably never realized! Her anointing of Jesus became a symbol that anticipated His death and burial only two days later (Matthew 26:2).

We must take notice of a striking contrast between Judas Iscariot, one of the disciples, and Mary. Judas Iscariot (the one that intends to betray Jesus, cr. v.10) was upset that she didn’t sell the perfume and give the money to the poor. Sounds good in theory, but not in principle! Judas was a thief and had control of the money bag (John 12:6). He wasn’t interested in the welfare of the poor; he was interested in his welfare.

Jesus responds to those that rebuked her by telling them to “let her alone.” The poor of this world will always be with you, Jesus said, but “you do not always have me” (v. 7). In other words, opportunities to help the poor, feed the poor, and minister to them will always be available to you. But My presence is limited in time. This particular moment was not the time for meeting the needs of the poor. Instead, it was the time for “sacrificial worship” of the One who would soon be crucified for the sins of fallen mankind!

His following words are fascinating. “She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for the burial” (v. 8). Mary most likely never realized what she did. “But it became a symbol that anticipated His death and burial.” His last words in this section regarding Mary are a wonderful testimony to her sacrificial love that moved her heart with pure worship of the Lord. The very fact has guaranteed his promise of what Mary has done that it has been included in our New Testament! Every time we read the gospel narratives, we read of what Mary has done, and we talk about it!

10 “Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went off to the chief priests in order to [a]betray Him to them. 11 They were delighted when they heard this, and promised to give him money. And he began seeking how to betray Him at an opportune time.”

FOCUS THREE: JUDAS SEEKS TO BETRAY JESUS

He seeks the priests out! They didn’t come to him; he went to them. That Judas (Iscariot) was not a Galilean like the others should get our attention. “Iscariot” means man of Kerioth, a small town in Judea about twenty-three miles away from Jerusalem.

“It should be clear that Judas never had any spiritual interest in Jesus,” Rather, he was motivated politically. He expected Jesus to manifest His power so that He would overthrow Rome and become an influential political leader, not to the exclusion of being a “religious” one too. Perhaps he thought he would gain prestige, power, and influence because of his association with Him. But when it became clear to him that this wasn’t going to happen, he “went off” to the chief priests to betray Him.

Mark’s account is much less detailed than Matthew’s and Lukes’s. Matthew shares a bit of the conversation that took place. “What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?” Their answer? “They weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him” (Matthew 26:15-16). Exodus 21:32 tells us that this was the price of a slave. That gives us an idea of what Judas thought about Jesus, right? 

Luke tells us something that Mark and Matthew do not. Luke tells us what is going on with Judas at this time. Sure, he was upset that Jesus was not acting as he hoped He would, but then we read: “And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot. . . And he went away and discussed with the chief priests and officers how he might betray Him to them” (Luke 22:3-4). Let’s back up a bit to understand what’s happening with Judas.

In the gospel of John, we are told that “during supper, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him” (John 13:2). This took place at the feast of Passover and does not excuse Judas Iscariot for his actions. Judas, without faith in Jesus, already desired to do the very thing Satan wanted. They agreed, so his actions were the natural outcome of his wicked heart.

Something more eye-opening happens after Jesus washes their feet. Jesus not only speaks about one of them betraying Him, but He also gives direct insight into who it would be! “He who eats My bread has lifted his heel against me” (John 13:18). And then in verse 26, “Jesus then answered, ‘that is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.” 

“The host at a feast (in this case, Jesus) would dip into a common bowl and pull out a particularly tasty bit and pass it to a guest as a special mark of honor or friendship.” Jesus gave it to Judas. Whether or not he ate it is uncertain, but we know that “after the morsel, Satan entered into Him” (v. 27).

We should notice the progression (perhaps digression) from before the feast till after the morsel, from satanic influence to satanic possession. Jesus said that “he who is not with me is against me” (Matthew 12:30). Judas is an example of how tragic it can be for someone who rejects and hardens their heart against Christ. 

“BEHOLD, NOW IS THE ACCEPTABLE TIME, BEHOLD, NOW IS THE DAY OF SALVATION” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

  • * Macarthur Study Bible