Mark 14:27-31… Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for 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 into Galilee.” 29 Peter said to him, “Even if they all fall away, I will not!” 30 Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, today – this very night – before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I must die with you, I will never deny you.” And all of them said the same thing.
As the Jesus and the disciples left the upper room they proceeded towards the Garden of Gethsemane. Then Jesus told them that they would all fall away. The Greek word for “fall away” translates in English as “scandalize.” This act of the disciples was prophesied 500 years prior by Zechariah (13:7), but its prophetic meaning was shrouded in mystery until Jesus spoke it. What he was telling them was that upon being arrested, just like sheep would scatter when their shepherd leaves them, so too would the disciples flee. Therefore, “fall away” (scandal) basically means “to take offense at someone or something” and thereby turn away and fall into sin.
Though speaking specifically of the disciples’ scattering once he was eventually arrested, in a broader sense the scattering of the sheep was also a picture of Israel who, 37 years later, were scattered during the destruction of Jerusalem. They remain so even today. Understandably the disciples were afraid of arrest and death, and their union with Jesus would certainly doom them. But it’s difficult to grasp how quickly they left the man they considered to be the Messiah. After all, they had witnessed first hand what no one has ever witnessed since.
Now Peter, upon hearing Jesus’ prediction, outwardly disagreed with him. Though Jesus told them that they’d all flee, Peter was confident that he alone would remain faithful. But Jesus knew Peter better than Peter knew himself. Peter not only contradicted what Jesus said, he felt he was better than the other disciples. His overconfident boast would later prove to be hot air. Jesus knew better of course, and he passed on to Peter that not only would he abandon Jesus with the rest, he would also deny him three times (fulfilled later than night). If pride goes before a fall (Prov. 16:18) then Peter illustrates it. But it brought him to the only point in which God could work in his life because Peter’s eventual humility over the matter changed him forever.
Now at the risk of justifying the later defection of the disciples (who abandoned Jesus in his darkest hour), if they had not fallen away they would have been arrested and killed. God used their cowardice as evidence of their later conversion when the Holy Spirit came upon them. There is no other explanation for their change of behavior after the resurrection when one considers that they all died martyrs and laid the foundation for Christianity (cf. Eph. 2:20-21).
Jesus told them that once he was raised (clearly showing that he would die) he would meet them in Galilee which was where they all lived and worked. And this is exactly what happened according to Matthew 28:16-20 when the disciples met the resurrected Jesus on a mountain in Galilee after his resurrection, and there he gave them the Great Commission.
Food for Thought
Like Peter we must make God laugh when we tell Him our plans. But even when we act like fools and temporarily fall away from the Lord, He restores us when we confess (1 John 1:9). And we should also help to restore ones such as these (Gal. 6:1). Let us be careful in assessing our own spirituality. Overconfidence might be our fall! We can rest assured that God knows all about us however. Therefore we should hope in the Lord, and He will renew our strength (Isa. 40:31). Let all of our boasting be about what Christ has accomplished in us – not because of us.
Mark 14:32-36… Then they went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James, and John with him, and became very troubled and distressed. 34 He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, even to the point of death. Remain here and stay alert.” 35 Going a little farther, he threw himself to the ground and prayed that if it were possible the hour would pass from him. 36 He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Take this cup away from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Right after Jesus celebrated the Passover feast with his disciples they went out together into a garden called Gethsemane which was probably a private garden owned by someone he knew. Jesus knew exactly what awaited him as all the Gospel writers attest to through the many predictions he made about certain events (i.e., the whereabouts of the colt & donkey, the upper room, Peter’s denial, etc.). Now it’s late at night, and he takes his closest three friends to pray.
The text says in v. 34 that Jesus was “grieved and distressed” – even “to the point of death.” It’s no surprise that Luke, being a doctor, speaks of an angel that was sent to strengthen Jesus because his agony was so great he was actually sweating drops of blood (Luke 22:44). This rare medical condition is called “hematidrosis.” It occurs when capillaries directly under the skin burst as a result of severe stress in a person, then the blood mixes with perspiration and exits through the sweat glands. Surely Jesus’ agony over becoming sin on behalf of man and enduring the full wrath of God was, in itself, enough to kill a person. But Jesus’ time was still not yet. Now while Jesus’ was filled with the terror of taking God’s wrath upon himself for the sins of others, the others were more concerned with sleep! Told by Jesus to “stay alert,” they were catching Z’s. And contrary to Jesus’ intense grief and loneliness, not once is it recorded that the disciples felt his pain. There’s no mention of them even praying!
Jesus’ grief was that he would literally become sin on man’s behalf. He wasn’t worried about the pain men would inflict on him, for it was he himself who had said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (Matt. 10:28). In fact, death was Jesus’ mission on the earth (John 12:27). The agony he felt reveals how severe God’s wrath is on sinful humanity, and Jesus was going to bear it all. J.F. MacArthur says, “His very soul was repulsed by the encroachment of his sin-bearing.” The “cup” Jesus asked to pass from him wasn’t death, the physical pain of the cross, the humiliating and painful beating, the torture of having nails driven through his body, or the disgrace of being spit upon and beaten over the head. Jesus had already preached not to be afraid of these things. But he did preach for man to be afraid of God, “who after He has killed, has the power to cast into hell” (Luke 12:5). Clearly, what Jesus dreaded the most was the cup of God’s divine wrath – the outpouring he would have to endure from his Father. No wonder he cried out “Abba Father!” (Daddy) – for he was the lonely sin-bearer.
Food for thought
God’s wrath is a recurrent theme in both testaments of the Bible. People don’t seem to be much afraid of it, for the lost world continues on in their pagan idolatry. If God’s wrath put the kind of fear it did into Jesus prior to his death, then it ought to do the same with us. For those of us who are saved as a result of knowing Christ personally, it ought to make us rejoice on one hand for being saved, and on the other hand put us on our knees for our unsaved friends and family members. God’s wrath isn’t finished either. The final tribulation “week” (7 years) awaits its future fulfillment, and if unbelievers really understood what that time period has in store for them they too would be “sweating drops of blood.” We must evangelize no matter the cost!
Mark 14:37-42… Then he came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Couldn’t you stay awake for one hour? 38 Stay awake and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 He went away again and prayed the same thing. 40 When he came again he found them sleeping; they could not keep their eyes open. And they did not know what to tell him. 41 He came a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough of that! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Get up, let us go. Look! My betrayer is approaching!”
After Jesus prayed that God’s cup of divine wrath pass from him, he also appropriately prayed for God’s will to be done instead of his own. This is the Son of God in his humanity. Then he came back to the place where he left Peter, James, and John, but they were sleeping. He woke them up, questioned them sternly as to why they could not even pray for one hour with him, and admonished them to stay awake and pray to not fall into temptation. He knew that they wanted to pray, but he also knew that because their will (literally “flesh”) was weak it would override their good intentions. In other words, it was late, and Jesus knew why they were asleep. That moment in the history of mankind, however, was the most pivotal time ever, so their need to pray was as great as ever. Unfortunately they didn’t even come close to recognizing this.
Then Jesus went away in his distraught condition and prayed by himself again. When he returned to the disciples he once again found them sleeping. They were so tired they simply could not keep their eyes open, but they were also overwhelmingly embarrassed by Jesus finding them asleep again. Verse 40 says that they didn’t know what to say to Jesus this time even though nothing is recorded about what Jesus said – if anything.
So Jesus went away a third time alone to pray only to return again and find the disciples in a sleeping slumber. On this final time, however, he rebuked them asking, “Are you still sleeping… Enough!” The time was then at hand as Jesus alerted his fair-weathered friends that his betrayer was approaching. While Jesus was sweating drops of blood his closest friends were sleeping peacefully. When he woke them up he woke them to an entirely new world – a world where God would suffer and die – and then be raised for eternity to intercede on behalf of those who cannot pray for themselves (cf. Romans 8:34).
As Judas approached with the chief priests to arrest him, Jesus said, “Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.” The term “Son of Man” describes Jesus as the ambassador for all of mankind. This has reference to Adam, and while Adam led the human race into sin on earth, Jesus, the “last Adam” from heaven leads the human race to salvation (cf. (1 Cor. 15:45, 47) through faith in his name. The irony is that this exalted Son of Man, the God of the universe, was delivered over to be crucified on a cross by sinful man. Truly the Son of Man provided forgiveness on behalf of the acts of sinful man. Hence, the Son of Man.
Food for thought
In many ways we are just like the sleeping disciples in the midst of the most chaotic moment in history. While the Savior of the world was enduring the most traumatic event a man has ever endured, his closest buddies were sleeping peacefully. So it is today. While God’s plan for mankind is unfolding all around us, we’re sleeping! We store up money and think only of ourselves – oblivious to the dying world around us. We, like Peter, have good intentions and plan to be faithful, but we’re weak. How spiritual are we in God’s eyes? The truth is all of us have the capacity to deny Christ if pressed to do so. So stay alert, and pray like there is no tomorrow.
Mark 14:43-46… Right away, while Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived. With him came a crowd armed with swords and clubs, and sent by the chief priests and experts in the law and elders. 44 (Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I kiss is the man. Arrest him and lead him away under guard”). 45 When Judas came, he went to Jesus immediately and said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46 Then they took hold of him and arrested him.
As Jesus drew the disciples’ attention toward Judas who arrived with an army of people to arrest Jesus, it appears from Mark’s wording that they were immediately upon them in the garden. The sleepy-headed disciples must have been oblivious to the commotion.
Amazingly Judas is simply called “one of the twelve” by Mark. In fact, none of the Gospel accounts take the opportunity to slander Judas even though the Gospels themselves were written many years after the actual events took place. It seems as though the writers did not think it appropriate to judge Judas with harsh names but left all judgment to God. Maybe in hindsight the writers were simply mature enough to note their own weaknesses and possibly even recognized their own susceptibility to betray their Lord. Maybe they learned their lesson from Peter’s over-confidence in his loyalty to Christ and decided to refrain from condemning Judas.
The crowd that Judas led appears to have been an angry mob. They had swords and clubs and were ready for a fight. Luke 22:52 and John 18:3 say that Roman soldiers, Jewish temple police, and the chief priests were also there. One commentator surmises that there could have been as many as 1,000 people who came with this angry mob to arrest Jesus. One can only imagine the fear the disciples must have felt looking out over this scene led by their friend Judas.
Judas had prearranged with the soldiers a sign in the form of a kiss that he would lay upon Jesus so that they would know exactly who to arrest. He could have just pointed to Jesus, but it seems clear that he was still trying to keep his intentions a mystery to his fellow disciples. Since a kiss in that culture acted as a greeting and a form of respect for a Rabbi or others in positions of authority, possibly Judas thought that he could casually walk up to Jesus, greet him, then pretend to watch in horror as Jesus was arrested by the mob. In v. 45 the kiss Judas gave to Jesus is signified in the Greek text, not as one of respect, but one of fervent affection – one that one lover would give to another. Judas must have affectionately embraced Jesus and lingered with his kiss on Jesus’ cheek. He was either completely sinister in doing so, or maybe he was simply heartbroken over what he knew he was doing to his Master and clung to him in despair.
Judas had given strict instructions about how Jesus was to be arrested. He left nothing to chance probably because he had seen Jesus slip away from death on so many occasions. He told the guards in v. 44 to “arrest” (literally “rule over”) Jesus, take him away, and put him under guard (literally “secure him”). And after Judas kissed Jesus, the guards “took hold of him” and arrested him. To take hold of someone was to literally “lay hands on them” – an idiom for taking something with forceful violence. From the get-go Jesus was treated like a common criminal.
Food for Thought
Like Judas, all of us are susceptible to betraying our Lord. I think the Gospel writers themselves knew that they too could do so, and that’s why they didn’t condemn Judas with slanderous terms but simply referred to him as “one of the twelve.” Let us be careful in our judgments of others. Those that fall into sin through the many temptations that surround us should be prayed for and forgiven upon repenting of such sins. We’re no better than they. And remember Peter who boasted of his loyalty to Christ – Peter! He later denied him with an oath.
Mark 14:47-52… One of the bystanders drew his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, cutting off his ear. 48 Jesus said to them, “Have you come with swords and clubs to arrest me like you would an outlaw? 49 Day after day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, yet you did not arrest me. But this has happened so that the Scriptures would be fulfilled.” 50 Then all the disciples left him and fled. 51 A young man was following him, wearing only a linen cloth. They tried to arrest him, 52 but he ran off naked, leaving his linen cloth behind.
As the soldiers attempted to arrest Jesus one of the disciples drew a sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s slave. Matthew, Mark, and Luke (synoptic writers) do not record who did this, but John 18:10 says it was Peter. It’s possible that the synoptic writers kept Peter nameless when they wrote in order to keep him out of trouble with the Roman authorities. John, who wrote much later than the synoptics, probably named Peter because Peter had already died.
Peter was obviously aiming for the man’s head, so the man must have ducked just in time to save his neck. Matthew records that Peter’s act brought a sharp rebuke from Jesus who said, “All those who take up the sword shall die by the sword” (26:52) – a warning that those who kill with the sword will be subject to the death penalty. Matthew also records that Jesus told Peter he didn’t need his help, for he could have called down “12 legions of angels” to save him if he wanted (72,000 angels). Clearly Jesus was allowing himself to be arrested, for he was going to the slaughter as the Lamb of God on behalf of all mankind – even for those who would brutally murder him. Peter’s zeal, however, seems awfully shallow in light of the fact that he would later deny knowing Jesus on three occasions when questioned about his relationship with Christ.
In v. 48 Jesus sarcastically addressed the soldiers asking them why they came to arrest him with weapons of warfare when he was among them at the temple for the past week every single day. But then he clarified why this had to be so because it was “so that the Scriptures would be fulfilled.” What the mob was unwittingly doing was fulfilling their own Scriptures. Consider Isaiah 53:10 which says, “The LORD says, ‘It was my will that he should suffer; his death was a sacrifice to bring forgiveness. And so he will see his descendants; he will live a long life, and through him my purpose will succeed.” And as they arrested Jesus, true to his prophecy about them scattering once he was struck (14:27), the disciples fled the scene to save their lives.
Mark is the only one who mentions the peculiar event found in vv. 51-52 where a naked young man fled the scene. The term Mark used is one that describes an unusually strong and valiant young man. It’s noteworthy that the prophet Amos spoke of a judgment day so horrible that “even the bravest among the warriors will flee naked in that day” (2:16). It was the norm that outer garments in that day were made of wool. Only the rich had linen ones, and the fact that he was naked signifies he was there in haste. The idea then was that all fled leaving Jesus alone. None remained; not even the valiant young man who came out in haste that night to follow him.
Food for thought
Most Christians have at one time or another fled the scene of Christianity in a manner of speaking. They’ve been embarrassed by their association with Jesus. Now the disciples teach us that their problem was spiritual immaturity. They were overconfident in themselves, and yet they hadn’t even prayed! Immature Christians defect from the faith because they don’t read their Bibles and pray through the Scriptures. When times get tough they’re like the seeds that fell upon rocky and thorny soil (Mark 4). They have nothing to stand upon when tough times come around. So make sure that you feed your soul a steady diet of God’s Word – and pray fervently!
Mark 14:27-31… PREDICTIONS & CONTRADICTIONS
- Note Christ’s deity & omniscience in his predictions
- Pride goes before a fall (Prov. 16:18)
- God later used Peter’s pride to humble and restore him
- God used the disciples’ cowardice who later laid the church’s foundation
- God restores (1 John 1:9; cf. Gal. 6:1) and renews us (Isa. 40:31)
- Self-confidence produces self-deception & self-destruction
o We mock God when we play with fire (reap what you sow)
o Watch out when you think you’re better than others who are better than you!
U Challenge: Don’t tell God your plans; you’ll make Him laugh!
Mark 14:32-36… PRAYER IN THE MIDST OF LONELINESS AND DESPAIR
- Luke 22:44 (hematidrosis).
- Holiness is repulsed by sin… “…You cannot look on wickedness w/favor” (Hab. 1:13).
- While Jesus grieved the disciples slept with no mention of prayer
- “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (Matt. 10:28).
- Death was Jesus’ mission on the earth (John 12:27).
U Challenge: When lonely pray! Jesus was tempted in all matters & w/o sin (Heb. 4:15)
Mark 14:37-42… STRONG WILLS CAN’T OVERCOME WEAK FLESH
- Jesus was tempted three times; he prayed three times (Paul prayed three times)…
- We’re just like the disciples – self-indulgent when we should be praying
- No wonder Peter said, “Stay alert…” (1 Peter 5:8)
U Challenge: The devil lurks… being watchful is about being prayerful
Mark 14:43-46… THE TRAITOR’S KISS
- Judas called “one of the twelve”… a lesson learned in humility by the disciples?
- This was the “preordained plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23).
U Judas’ in our midst: 1) disagrees w/Bible, 2) motivated by self-interest; not Christ or elders, 3) Deceitful/hypocritical kisses (mouth & heart are opposite), 4) Is sorry for actions but not repentant (2 Cor. 7:10), 5) withers when confronted w/a price to pay for association w/Christ.
U Challenge: Humility in light of those who have gone before us and fallen.
Mark 14:47-52… SHALLOW ZEAL FROM HOLLOW FAITH
- Peter not mentioned in synoptics as the swordsman
- Peter’s sword-like zeal seems shallow
- Jesus was allowing himself to be arrested so as to go to the slaughter
- “Scriptures fulfilled”… the mob unwittingly fulfilled their own Bible (Isa. 53:10)
- None remained; not even the valiant (cf. Amos 2:16)
U Challenge: Ashamed of Jesus? Those who pray and study aren’t.
U Therefore, prayer doesn’t change God – it changes us! True prayer is about yielding to God
U Steps to destruction: False confidence… sleep (indifference)… temptation (appealing to personal rights and rebelling against God)… sin… destroyed life
U Steps to spiritual victory: Confidence in God, not self… moral & spiritual attention… resisting Satan’s temptations by staying alert… Being obedient instead of rebellious