Devotional # 37. 6/11/13.
This week’s Reading: Mark 14: 26-50.
Introduction. Last week we saw Jesus prepared for burial, Judas commit to betray Him and He instituted communion. Now Jesus will set Himself up to be captured but we see both the human passion and the Godly heart poured out leading up to it.
vv. 26-27. It says they sang a “hymn” then headed up to the Mount of Olives. The hymn could possibly have been from Psalm 118 as this was the traditional Hallel sung at Passover. Also Judas must have slipped away around this time, it’s interesting that none of the disciples are mentioned as wondering where he is. Also Jesus’ famous Olivet discourse (look over Devotionals 34 and 35) happened on the Mount of Olives where He has now returned to be arrested.
Jesus tells them that all of them will “stumble” which literally means to “fall away” but He says “this night” which insinuates that it is temporary. Jesus says that they must abandon Him since it was prophesied in Zechariah 13:7, which He quotes. He continues plainly telling them that he will rise from the dead and meet up with them in Galilee. It is interesting that He knew exactly what would happen and went through with it anyway. It’s not just that He would rise from the dead and they would have to have faith but He promised to meet up with them afterwards.
vv. 28-31. Peter indignantly says he will not abandon Jesus. Peter made these type of bold professions (like when he demanded that Jesus let him walk on water) without thinking it through. Peter is relying on his own strength and pride thinking that He will stick with Jesus through thick and thin. Jesus knows the truth and prophesized that before the rooster crowed twice Peter would already have denied even knowing Jesus three times. Only Mark records the rooster crowing twice and Jesus was actually giving a specific time. The rooster crowing twice meant around 3 AM. Notice that Peter is adamant that he won’t deny Jesus and all of the other disciples say the same thing. We are like this. We can be so sure that we can handle things on our own when God is telling us that we need to trust in Him. The good news is that once Jesus’ crucifixion was over He promised us that if we are persecuted for His sake He will be with us and give us the strength to not deny Him.
vv. 32-36. “Gethsemane” means “oil press” because there were a lot of olive trees. But this is where Jesus would be pressed spiritually as we see in these verses. He asks His inner circle of disciples (“Peter, James and John”) to pray then He goes away continuing to pray. He is so distressed (see Hebrews 5:7-8) that He sweats blood (Luke 22:43-44) and falls to the ground. He asks for God the Father to take this “cup” from Him. The “cup” was one of wrath and judgment (from Psalm 75:8) so He was asking if there was a way for Him not to die. But He sets an example by praying that God the Father’s will be done because it is best.
vv. 37-42. In a picture of the three failures Peter would later commit by denying Jesus, His disciples fall asleep three times when they are supposed to be praying. It is interesting that Jesus calls out Peter but by his Hebrew name (“Simon” or “Simeon”). “Simeon” means “hearing with acceptance” but he was not living up to that name and he was probably shocked that Jesus used that name. Peter does what all of us are guilty of: falling asleep on the job. Have you ever been going through a lot of pain but no else realizes the severity and importance of your pain? Jesus is asking His friends to pray with Him but they just keep sleeping. He finally sees Judas coming and knows He is about to be arrested.
vv. 43-45. Judas leads a “multitude” of people to give up Jesus. The “swords” mentioned were regular hand weapons of the Romans whereas the “clubs” were traditionally carried by Jewish temple police so we see both Romans and Jews there to arrest Jesus. Judas gives the secret sign of who Jesus was by kissing Him on the cheek (which was a common greeting).
vv. 46-50. At this point we must read John 18: 1-7 because in-between Judas turning Jesus over and Peter cutting off the servant’s ear something amazing happens. Jesus asked all of the Romans and Jewish religious leaders who they were looking for and they say, “Jesus.” His response was “I AM”, which as we’ve talked about is the name God gave for Himself in Exodus. It was forbidden to say this phrase but when Jesus says it everyone falls to the ground at His feet! Then they all pick themselves up and still go to arrest Him. At this point Peter (John 18:10) grabs his sword and cuts off a servant’s ear. According to John 18:10 the servant’s name was Malchus, a high ranking slave of Caiphas, the chief priest. But from Luke 22:51 we see Jesus healed Malchus’ ear. And in Matthew 26:53 Jesus says that He can call down thousands of angels to help Him. He is saying ‘Peter, I don’t need you to defend me, this is what I need to do.’
Verse 50 is very sad but was exactly what Jesus had been telling them: “they all forsook Him and fled.” Jesus was left with no friends, no sleep and no dignity as He was led off for his trial and death.
Conclusion. I find it strange that everyone who went to arrest Jesus was knocked flat on their face (in a position of worship!) and then watched Jesus put an ear back on a man and still they arrested Him! We are the same, we see the works Jesus does all around us but we refuse to believe. It is the most important decision we will ever make to give our lives to Christ. Remember at the beginning of this Devotional (vv. 26-27) I said that Jesus knew the disciples would temporarily abandon Him? But once He rose from the dead their faith would be so strengthened that 10 of 11 would die a martyr’s death for Him. We now live in the age of Jesus’ strengthening. We have the opportunity to not falter as we share His story with others and this strengthens our own faith in Him.
Jesus willingly provided Himself as a sacrifice for our living in heaven. Is it too much to give our lives (which are already His) to Him?