The Gospel according to Mark

Chapter 14

14:1-2 When Jews went up for the Passover (the Feast of Unleavened Bread) in Jerusalem they thought of a period of at least ten days. The actual Passover meal (Exodus 12:6) was followed by seven days in which unleavened bread was eaten (Exodus 12:15). Jews counted a day from sundown to sunset the next day, so the Day of Preparation began the evening before the Passover meal (seen clearly in Matthew 26:5; 27:62; Luke 23:54; John 19:14, 31, 42). . And the religious leaders knew they had to get Jesus arrested, tried, and crucified in that period of 24 hours before the actual Passover meal began (14:2).

14:3 "You mentioned (11:11, 12, 19) that Jesus would teach in the temple courts by day, and he would go out with his disciples to a home in Bethany in the evening. Did anything significant happen in that home?" It was actually the home of Simon the leper (as in Matthew 26:6). Though he had been healed in one of Jesus' tours (as in 1:40-45) he was probably still in quarantine, and Martha ran the home (see Luke 10:38) though Lazarus was viewed as the man of the house (John 12:1). A woman brought a jar of very costly perfume (the Greek word nardos is from the Sanskrit nalada) from India and poured some of it on Jesus' head (as in Matthew 26:7. John who was there said she anointed Jesus' feet, and wiped them with her hair, John 12:3). Peter explained that the anointing was of his body beforehand for its burial (14:8), so anointing both the head and feet would have been appropriate. And John added that the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume (John 12:3).

14:4 "Who was this woman?" We prefer not to mention her name since she is from a very prominent family in the city (This is perhaps why Luke omitted this section from Mark's Gospel. But when John later wrote his Gospel he named her as Mary, Martha's sister, and Peter was present and obviously knew this). "What was the reaction of the others who were there?" There was an expression of great indignation (John named Judas as the main complainer, John 12:4-6).

14:5 "What was the reason for such anger?" The ointment (probably purchased for Mary's wedding day) was worth 300 denarii (a denarius was pay for a day's work, Matthew 20:9 margin, so the ointment would have been worth the equivalent of $25,000 in our day). Keeping it for her wedding day was one thing, but wasting it in this way instead of selling it and giving the money to the poor was quite wrong.

14:6-9 "What did Jesus say about this objection?" He stood up for her, and obviously appreciated her devotion. He said the needs of the poor would always continue, but this was a recognition of his imminent death (missed by the disciples, 8:31, 9:31, 10:33). Then he made an astonishing statement. Looking beyond his death and resurrection, his good news would be proclaimed all over the world (as in 13:10, 27), and her costly devotion would be remembered in every church we planted (which is already happening as he said).

14:10-11 "What did Judas say when Jesus so publicly rejected his opinion?" He went to discuss a betrayal with the chief priests. This was just what they needed (11:18) and they promised him a reward if he would arrange this.

14:12 "Can you explain the communion meal Jesus ate with his disciples. How could it be a Passover meal which is always celebrated with one's family?" Peter explained that the meal Jesus wanted the disciples us to get ready was a chaburah (gathering of friends from the Hebrew chaber meaning companion, see John 15:14, 15). A rabbi would gather his closest disciples for a meal to go over the meaning of the feast the next day. This meant the Last Supper was a preparation for the Passover seder which would take place with each of the disciples' family the next evening after the crucifixion.

14:13-16 "Where did you gather for this chaburah meal?" During the afternoon before the Day of Preparation (see 14:1,2) two of the disciples us were to follow a man carrying a jar of water to a house where they would be shown a large upper room. That's where the meal was prepared. This could have been by previous arrangement between Jesus and the owner of the room, or Jesus as a prophet might have seen in a vision what would take place.

14:17-21 After sundown Jesus came from teaching in the temple, and the twelve took their place for the supper (John remembered the failure to prepare for the usual washing of feet see John 13:3-10). "What happened when you began eating?" He said that one of us would betray him, and he indicated who it would be by giving Judas a piece of bread dipped in the bowl of tasty meat stew. He added some awesome words. It would have been better if the betrayer had never been born. The betrayal had been foretold by the psalm writer (Psalm 41:9). But it is significant that none of the disciples had imagined that Judas would betray their Master.

14:22 "What about the bread and wine of our communion service?" He took a piece of pita bread, solemnly gave thanks for it (the Greek verb is the aorist of eulogeo which means to speak well of, praise, and or give thanks to God. The idea of blessing or consecrating is a secondary meaning). It reminded us of his giving of thanks before feeding the 5,000 (6:41). As he gave each of us a piece of the bread, he said "This is my body." I didn't grasp what that meant at the time, but the words have been wonderfully enriched as we think of the church in each city as his body (Ephesians 4:1, 16).

14:23-24 "In our Passover seder we have several cups of wine. Did he explain what that could mean?" He connected the cup with the covenant Moses made with our people on Mount Sinai (He took the book of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, "All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient." Then Moses took the blood and dashed it on the people, and said, "See the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you" (Exodus 24:7-8). He then said of the cup which we all drank from "This is my blood of the new covenant which is poured for many" (some manuscripts leave out the word 'new" but the last supper covenant is obviously new in relation to the covenant with Moses). Twenty years later Paul spoke of the newness of the communion service (1 Corinthians 10:16-17; 11:23-26).

14:25 "How did the chaburah gathering end?" Jesus said this would be the last time he would drink wine with us till he drank the new wine of the Kingdom with us in our church gatherings (as he said to the church in Laodicea, "Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you, and you with me" (Revelation 3:20, see 1 Corinthians 10:21-22). But others interpret this as the new wine of heaven which Jesus would enjoy immediately after the resurrection.

14:26 Then he led us in singing the concluding psalms (perhaps the Passover Psalms 115-118) and we went out to the Mount of Olives.

14:27-28 "What did Jesus do there?" He warned us that all of us would desert him and he quoted a verse to that effect from one of the prophets (Zechariah 13:7). But then he went on to say we would see him in Galilee after his resurrection (as in John 21:1-14. Luke added that Jesus prayed that Simon Peter's faith might not fail, Luke 22:31-32).

14:29-31 "How did you feel about this?" I was hurt by the suggestion I would betray him, and I said even if all the other disciples deserted him, there was no way I would do such a thing. To my horror he said that before the cock crowed I would deny him three times. As we will see in a moment, I did exactly that. But I said I would rather die than deny him. But I wasn't the only one to make that rash promise, the others said the same.

14:32-36 "Then what happened?" The disciples went to a place called Gethsemane (John explained that this was a public garden where Jesus often went to be with his disciples, John 18:1-2). Jesus told the other disciples to wait there, but he took the three in the inner circle (as in 5:37, 9:2) to pray with him. We could see he was very distressed, and he went on a bit further where he prayed flat on the ground. "Could you hear what he was concerned about in prayer?" He talked to God using the word Abba (like a little child's "Daddy" compare Romans 8:15-17). He asked ,if it was possible, for him to be spared the cup of suffering but he ended with submission to the will of the Father (Luke noted from another source that an angel came to help him as his prayer was so intense that his sweat came out like drops of blood, Luke 22:44)

14:37-41 "How long did his prayer go on?" I tried to pray, but I fell fast asleep, and he woke me up and told me to keep awake and pray that I would not fall into temptation. He realized that I wanted to support him, but sleep got the better of me. The third time he was astonished that I could not keep awake. But by then he knew Judas had arrived to arrest him.

14:42-43 Sure enough Judas came with a big crowd of people armed with swords and clubs with a warrant from the Sanhedrin priests, theologians, and synagogue elders (see the council gathered the next morning, 15:1).

14:43-46 "What did Judas say?" The soldiers did not know who was the Jesus, so Judas had arranged to give them the signal that the one he kissed was to be arrested. So he came up and just said one word "Rabbi" and kissed him. So the soldiers grabbed Jesus and arrested him.

14:47 "I thought you said you would be willing to die for him. Why didn't you put up a fight?" We did have a couple of swords (Luke 22:36-38) with us and there was a quick fight. The slave of the high priest got his ear cut (John tells us it was Peter who wielded the sword,and the slave's name was Malchus, which suggests he may have become known as a Christian? John 18:10. Doctor Luke noted that it was the slave's right ear that was severed, and that Jesus pushed it back in place and it healed immediately, Luke 22:50-51).

14:48-49 John reported that the soldiers fell back when Jesus used the word I AM to claim he was the LORD that Moses met (Exodus 3:4, John 18:5-6), but this gave him the opportunity to ask them why they did not arrest him when he was teaching in the temple.

14:50 "What did the disciples do when it was obvious Jesus was being taken away to die?" Except for Judas, all the disciples quickly left the scene in case they were also arrested. Peter did come, he hoped incognito, to the trial at Caiphas' house, as did John (John 18:5). But none of them were there to support Jesus during the crucifixion the next morning, except for John who was charged with taking care of Jesus' mother (John 19:25-27).

14:51-52 Mark, who has so far been interviewing Peter, now adds his signature to the record. When the soldiers grabbed the light linen garment he was wearing, he managed to run away leaving it in their hands. It seems that the style now changes from an interview with Peter to Mark's vivid eye-witness account. . We might guess that Mark ran home to get dressed, told his mother he must go and see what happened to Jesus. In that case he could have recorded what he saw at the trial before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin the next morning, and he might even have been present at the crucifixion, entombment and the women finding the tomb empty. (14:51-16:13). The end of the Gospel (16:14-20) would be a concluding comment on what happened after that (we will later explain how the longer ending of Mark 16:9-20 became canonical).

14:53 We imagine that Mark did not get back in time to see and record the preliminary hearing at the home of Annas, the deposed high priest (which John must have attended , John18:13-23).  Having gone home to get dressed, Mark might have arrived later at the home of Caiphas (named in Matthew 26:27) where the whole Sanhedrin was assembled for a preliminary hearing (the actual trial could not legally take place till dawn (15:1).

14:54 By then Peter had recovered sufficiently (see 14:50) and he had slipped into the courtyard warming himself at a brazier with the guards. He assumed he would not be recognized as a disciple of Jesus (see 14:66-71) who was being tried in the main hall above..

14:55-59 It is possible Mark went up to listen in on the council, and heard the false and contradictory witnesses being examined.

14:60-62 When Jesus was questioned he at first refused to say anything in his own defense. Then when the High Priest asked him if he was the Messiah, Jesus quoted "I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven ( Daniel 7:13).. That was a Messianic text and Jesus applied it to himself (as he had explained in 13:26. See the note in that text about the meaning of coming with clouds).

14:63-65 On the assumption the Jesus the preacher from Galilee that they hated could not be the Messiah, this was certainly blasphemy, and they all agreed he should be condemned at the gathering of Sanhedrin high court the next day (15:1). Since the court had not met officially to pronounce judgment, it was certainly against the law to mock him, and let the guards beat him.

14:66-72 The account of Peter's denial could have come from Peter himself. But its narrative style might suggest that Mark went down from the council chamber and saw what happened. When Peter had denied knowing Jesus before the servant girl, the servants, and the bystanders gathered around the fire the cock crowed a second time to announce the dawn. That was when the self-confident Peter broke down and wept (Matthew wrote that he wept bitterly, Matthew 26:75).

Chapter  15