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 

GRIEF HAS ITS SEASON

Extended reading: Ecclesiastes 3:1-15

Devotional reading: Verse 4

“A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.”

It’s ok to grieve. You’re not alone and you’re not abnormal. You are a healthy person expressing deep anguish over the heart-rending loss of someone near and dear to you. The emotional turmoil you are facing is normal and healthy, but it needs to be worked through in a biblical way.

The writer of these lines is using sharp contrasts to express an important reality. From crying to laughing and grieving to dancing we can acknowledge a vast distance between the two.

None of them are forever. We may laugh and dance during the celebration of a wedding or graduation. But laughing and dancing is only for a season. Then, at some point in our earthly existence, we experience the death of someone we love and cherish.

Our laughter turns into crying and our dancing into grieving. Such things are inevitable BUT not insurmountable!

In these eight verses the writer directs our thoughts to a higher plane, a better place. He reminds us that God is in complete control of everything that happens, even the death of a spouse or other ones we love (v.14). He is the One who set the times for all these events.

I believe we grieve so deeply, not only because of our loss, but also because we do not understand the “full scope” of God’s eternal plans (v. 11). We cannot change what God has allowed, but we shouldn’t let those things we don’t understand drag us down and hold us there.

We can have hope and confidence in this: Just like our season of dancing at some point will turn into grieving, so too will our crying turn into laughter once again (v. 12-13).

JESUS HEALS ON THE SABBATH

Mark 3: 1-6

BRIEF INTRO: In this chapter, we witness a continuation of Christ’s healing power and authority. Christ’s popularity is on the rise, while His ability to have “alone time” is greatly hindered due to the multitude’s continuous presence. This chapter begins with the Pharisees “watching” Him to see if He would heal on the Sabbath so they could accuse Him. It ends with His brethren and family members believing that He is out of His mind, and so they attempt to remove Him from the people to a “safe space!”

Sandwiched in the middle of all that, Mark tells us about Jesus appointing the twelve to apostleship and their purpose OR function.

He entered a synagogue again; and a man was there whose hand was withered. And they were watching Him [a]closely to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. He *said to the man with the withered hand, “[b]Get up and come forward!” And He *said to them, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath or to do harm, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent. After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He *said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately began [c]conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might put Him to death.

FOCUS ONE: Pharisees are watching

The Pharisees were the religious leaders of the day. They sat on “Moses seat,” which means that they had the highest authority to instruct people in the law. But they “*had gone beyond the any legitimate authority and were adding human tradition to the Word of God” (Matthew 15:3-9) and constantly opposed Him, for that Jesus condemned them.

The Pharisees are often exposed for this very thing elsewhere in scripture (Mark 10:2-12; Luke 18:9-14; Matthew 19:3-12; John 7:43-49; John 8). These examples must suffice for now, but these few samples prove that they always tested, challenged, and opposed the Lord.

On this particular day, we read that they are watching. They stood aloof of the people in the synagogue, just observing all that was transpiring. They were not innocent bystanders by any means. Instead, they were purposely, thoughtfully, and maliciously waiting for Jesus to do something that they could accuse of before the authorities. In this case, they waited to see if “He would heal on the sabbath” (3:2).

 He *said to the man with the withered hand, “[b]Get up and come forward!” And He *said to them, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath or to do harm, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent. After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He *said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored.

FOCUS TWO: Jesus challenges the Pharisees

The tension grows! Jesus sees the man with the withered hand in the synagogue. The man’s deformity was likely a “*form of paralysis or deformity from an accident, a disease, or congenital defect.” He tells the man to “rise and come forward.” Jesus sees the man; He knows the Pharisees are watching and why, and He calls this disabled man forward anyway! Obviously, Jesus has a higher purpose for what He is about to do. A good and righteous purpose, unlike the Pharisees.

The man appears to obey Jesus’ command to come forward. I can picture this man in front of Jesus, perhaps a bit nervous, as Jesus asks the Pharisees this question. “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or evil, to save life or to kill?” this rhetorical question “1destroys their argument by forcing a logical conclusion: Would your interpretation of the law ever demand you to destroy life or do evil? No answer.” Matthew records Jesus using a sheep analogy to help them understand and form a correct conclusion (Matthew 12:11-12).

This question elevates the issue from a legal to a moral problem. “* Jesus was forcing the Pharisees to examine their tradition regarding the Sabbath to see if it  was consistent with God’s Old Testament law.” The clear understanding would be that any failure to do good or save a life was wrong and would not be in obedience to God’s original intention for the sabbath observance. 

The Pharisee’s silence showed their refusal to answer the question, and in not doing so, the implication was that their views of the OT law were false!

Jesus becomes angry, grieved at their hardness of heart. Does that statement trouble you (3:5)? The Greek word for “anger” is (Orge). 2It means to desire eagerly or earnestly; Wrath, anger as a state of mind. It is used in the anarthrous, which means that there is NO definite article in the original, and it is a noun, not a verb in this usage.

Jesus certainly had displeasure at their hardness of heart and unwillingness to repent. BUT His reaction was consistent with His divine nature, not outside it. His anger is ALWAYS consistent with His holiness! Christ’s righteous indignation, expressed at times throughout our bibles, is always in total alignment with His divine character and nature. Unlike our anger.

But don’t miss the “other side of the coin” here. The Pharisees hardened hearts grieved the Lord. It weighed on Him, causing sorrow within Himself at such willful stubbornness. I have grieved myself when I think of how my willful sinfulness, stubbornness at times, or callousness affects my Father, Redeemer, and sustainer. BUT I am thankful that His mercy is new each day (Lamentations 3:22-24).

FOCUS THREE: Jesus heals the man

Jesus took a moment and looked around at these men, allowing them to respond to His question. They don’t, so He tells the man to “stretch out your hand.” He does, and it is healed! 

In some instances, Jesus touches those He heals; in others, He speaks, and they are healed. That is what we read here. This man experienced complete and perfect restoration of his withered hand by the words of Jesus! Everybody in the synagogue witnessed it. They all knew the situation of this man. They knew what his arm was like before that day and what it is like now. 

We are not told how they responded. We can only imagine. BUT we are told how the Pharisees responded (v.6). They immediately leave the synagogue and begin plotting to “destroy” Jesus. With their minds already made up, they join forces with the “Herodians” (v. 6). This group is said to be much smaller than the Pharisees and “tended toward political opportunism.” To them, Jesus would have been a threat to their status quo of the Roman rule, which was a big plus for them.

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” This ancient proverb is what we see being put into practice by these two groups. “The Herodians opposed the Pharisees on nearly every issue, but were willing to join forces with them because they both wanted desperately to destroy Jesus.” All the gospels record their intent (Matthew 12:9-13; Luke 6:6-10; John 11:53).

After the Pharisees left the synagogue, Jesus moved on to the sea with His disciples. Despite the frequent confrontations with the Pharisees, Jesus’ popularity grew so much that we read in verses seven and eight that “multitudes” came from all parts of Palestine to see and hear Him for themselves!

*Macarthur Study Bible pg. 1463

1 Liberty Bible Commentary pg. 1972

2 The complete Word Study NT, pg. 941