Mark 15:33-41 A Sacrifice Complete.

Mark 15:33-41 A Sacrifice Complete.

The sacrifice of Jesus was not complete until the following took place. Firstly, because he bore the sins of many, and then the Father forsook him (vv. 33-34). Secondly, he himself gave up his life when the first occurred (v. 37). Those watching were mistaken in thinking he was calling for help from Elijah (vv. 35-36). Perhaps they thought of Elijah since the common notion about Jesus was that he was simply a prophet. It was no accident that the veil in the temple was torn in two, because the old sacrificial system had now come to an end, and Jesus opened up the way for all who the Father has given to him to approach the throne of grace in the Most Holy Place directly through him (v. 38 Cf. Ex. 26:31-33). The tricolour veil was symbolic of Jesus threefold office as Mediator ( There may have been a conversion of one of the centurions at this time as well (v. 39). Mark also highlights the place occupied by the women who travelled with Jesus (vv. 40-41).

Mark 15:16-32 The King Is Crucified.

Mark 15:16-32 The King Is Crucified.

The soldiers clothed Jesus in purple, a symbolic colour for a king, to mock the claim, also putting on him a crown of thorns (vv. 16-18 Cf. Mt. 27:27-31). In the minds of most, this death was a king’s ultimate defeat (Cf. However, biblically speaking, the Christ or anointed One, would occupy all three anointed mediatorial offices in His one person as the Prophet-Priest-King. As the Prophet he had preached the word, now as Priest he would offer himself up as the sacrifice for sin. When he arose and ascended to the right hand of the Father he would then reign as the Prophet-Priest-King, with each office helping to define the other two. A threefold office based on the word, redemptive in nature, and ruling from heaven, but on earth.

They also offered mock worship, after striking him and spitting on him, which since they believed that he was only a man, was idolatry on their part (v. 19). This also fulfilled the prophetic word concerning Isaiah’s Servant, something which could not apply to any other (50:6; 52:14; 53:5). The last ignominy was to rip of the kingly robe as a final testimony to their mock confession (v. 20). Jesus’ cross was transported by another to Golgotha, the place of the scull or death (vv. 21-22 Cf. Mt. 27:32; Jn. 19:17-24). They offered him wine mingled with myrrh, a primitive painkiller, but he refused it (v. 23). Apparently there were four solders because they divided his clothing in four parts, but his tunic was seamless, so as scripture had also predicted, they cast lots for it (v. 24; Jn. 19:24; Ps. 22:18). He was then crucified at the third hour, or 9 am.

As John notes, the Jewish religious leadership did not want the inscription to read ‘The King of the Jews’, but that he said he was (vv. 25-26 Cf. Mt. 27:37; Jn. 19:14, 21). They saw how the pagans had mocked their own religious commitment. He was crucified with two robbers, also fulfilling scripture, that “He was numbered with the transgressors” (vv. 27-28; Is. 53:12 Cf. Lk. 22:37). Those who walked by and blasphemed him, reverted to his claim to destroy the temple, but got it wrong when they said he claimed to raise that temple again in three days (v. 29). These did not understand the transition to the new temple of his body rising. They commanded him to save himself and come down immediately from the cross, but redemption was not yet complete (v. 30), lead by the apostate leadership (vv. 31-32). Although both robbers initially joined in, Luke records one robber’s repentance and faith (23:40-43; Cf. Mt. 27:44).

Mark 15:1-15 A Covenantal Curse.

Mark 15:1-15 A Covenantal Curse.

The apostate Jewish leadership, represented by their council, bound Jesus so that he could be delivered to the Gentile authorities for execution, in the person of Pilate. Pilate had no interest in the charge laid against Jesus, that he claimed to be Deity, Pilates only concern was whether he posed a direct threat to the political order. Jesus was indeed the King of the Jews, but not as a king in the way Pilate would have imagined. The fact that Jesus refused to answer his accusers, caused Pilate to marvel since he did not commit any such political or violent crime. Barabbas, on the other hand, was a rebel who did commit murder during a recent rebellion. Pilate knew that the chief priests were leading their charge out of envy, and being astute politicians, they worked up the crowd in their favour.

When they were repeatedly asked by Pilate what Jesus had done to be deserving of death, the crowd only called out for him to be crucified. Pilate, himself also primarily a politician, “wanting the gratify the crowd, released Barabbas to them; and he delivered Jesus, after he had scourged Him, to be crucified” (v. 15). Pilate released a man who was guilty of murder, and posed a real threat to his reign, in favour of short-term appeasement of the crowd. In taking the place of a murderer, we see Jesus taking the place of all for whom he died – likewise murderers of the Son of Man. “As Paul notes, the crucifixion of Jesus brought Him publicly under the curse of God (Gal. 3:13; cf. Deut. 21:23)” (NGSB 1595). Those not covered by his blood, suffer the covenantal curse themselves.

Mark 14:66-72 Peter’s Denial, And True Witness Bearing.

Mark 14:66-72 Peter’s Denial, And True Witness Bearing.

Peter appears to have gone farther than any of the twelve to follow Jesus as he was taken away. However, a servant girl approached him claiming she saw him with Jesus, and this was the beginning of his threefold denial, and a rooster crowed (vv. 66-68 Cf. v. 30). She was in fact witness bearing – first one on one, then with others (vv. 69-70a), then others joined in the same testimony (v. 70b). With his third denial “he began to curse and swear” (v. 71). He had been convicted in the very fashion in which Jesus gave as a pattern for dealing with controversies, including a sinning believer (Mt. 18:15-20). “A second time the rooster crowed. Then Peter called to mind the word that Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.’ And when he thought about it, he wept” (v. 72). Here even the creation itself bore witness, through a crow, just as Jesus had predicted. Peter could but weep at the confirmation of his firm and complete denial of his Lord. It so often happens that in the midst of such trying times, it may be hard to tell a Judas from a Peter, for we know that Esau also wept at the knowledge of his selling of his birthright (Gen. 27:38; Heb. 12:17). There is weeping of repentance, and weeping only of regret.

Mark 14:51-65 Jesus Condemned By The Council.

Mark 14:51-65 Jesus Condemned By The Council.

Mark is the only gospel record which records a certain young man following Jesus who was clothed only in a linen cloth, which was torn off him by those who took Jesus, so that he fled away naked (vv. 51-52). “Some interpreters have suggested that in this cryptic detail, as in the mention of the linen garment (a sign of wealth), there might be a veiled reference to Mark himself, since he was from a well-to-do family in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12)” (NGSB 1593). The fact that he was alone, surrounded only by adversaries, would suggest that only Mark would have this information. If so, it is a self-effacing confession, at least to those who knew to whom he was referring. However, the real focus is on the apprehension and deliverance to the high priest, and the assembled “chief priests, the elders, and the scribes” (v. 53).

Clearly they had everything planned for this mock trial. However, Mark also makes note of Peter, whom it is believed he wrote for. Peter also followed Jesus, presumably farther than Mark had gotten, all the way to sitting with the servants in the courtyard, warming himself at the fire (v. 54). The council’s planning did however lack any credible witnesses to support charging Jesus with a capital crime (v. 55). The problem with employing false witnesses is the fact that they still must agree with each other, something these geniuses did account for (v. 56). The witnesses could not even agree on the charge that Jesus was going to destroy the temple and build another made without hands (vv. 57-59). Nevertheless, the high priest berated Jesus on why he would not answer this charge (v. 60).

“But He kept silent and answered nothing” (v. 61a). Instead the high priest got to the crux of the matter, “saying to Him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed’” (v. 61b)? This was ultimately why they would crucify Jesus, because He claimed to be God Himself – the “I am.” Furthermore, Jesus would refer back to the previous charge, when he said, “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven” (v. 62). This described, in apocalyptic form, what Mark had recorded regarding the destruction of the temple and the city, and the last days of the old covenant administration, with the inauguration of the new (Ch. 13). The claim to Deity was blasphemy for the high priest, and if it were not true it would have been (vv. 63-64a).

However, the unbelieving high priest, was the bearer of false witness here, and having heard the testimony and verdict of the high priest, those gathered condemned Jesus as the one deserving of death (v. 64b). Couched in the shameful activity which ensued, of spitting on the one who once used his own spit as a healing balm, and blindfolding him while they beat him, is the real crux of what was transpiring here. Jesus, as the Anointed One, was indeed regarded as a true prophet by many. The tests of a prophet were applied to him. His message was in harmony with the prophets of old, often referring to these prophets as witness to his own message of fulfillment and judgment to come. However, here they declare him to be false, because of his unique prophetic claim to Deity, for which he would be crucified.

Mark 14:43-50 Apprehended As Predicted.

Mark 14:43-50 Apprehended As Predicted.

This passage (Cf. Mt. 26:47-56; Lk. 22:47-53; Jn. 18:3-11) begins with some puzzling verses (vv. 43-44). Surely those who sought Jesus death knew who he was. Perhaps the servants sent did not. In any case, Judas betrayed the Lord Jesus with a kiss (v. 45), and as they were taking Jesus away one of the disciples cut off the ear of one of these servants (vv. 46-47). John informs us that this disciple was Peter (18:10), and the incident became an occasion for Jesus to point out that he could have easily called angels to his own defence, but he was allowing what happened to fulfill the will of the Father, even as the Scriptures predicted (vv. 48-49). To that end Luke records that Jesus in fact healed the servant (22:51). Jesus made the point that he could have been taken many times before that point, but the Scriptures indicated that he would be apprehended like a criminal (Cf. Mt. 26:55; Ps. 22:6; Is. 53:7; Lam. 4:20). In any case, all his disciples “forsook Him and fled” (v. 50).

Mark 14:32-42 Praying In The Garden.

Mark 14:32-42 Praying In The Garden.

Jesus went to Gethsemane to pray, and he asked most of his disciples to sit while he did so (v. 32 Cf. Mt. 26:36-46; Lk. 22:40-46). The he took Peter, James, and John with him, “and He began to be troubled and deeply distressed. Then he said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch’” (vv. 33-34 Cf. 5:37; 9:2; 13:3; Is. 53:3-4). Jesus had not yet asked them to pray with or for him, or for themselves. Perhaps the request for them to watch was so that he could pray before the betrayer arrived, and for their own selves. Jesus initially prayed that he might be spared the task ahead of him (v. 35). It is good to know that this is a prayer one might engage in. He knew, as we should also know, that all things are possible with the Father, for he is the sovereign LORD over all (v. 36a). If he was not, prayer of any kind would be worthless, at least to change anything. However, Jesus gave us the pattern to follow here, seek the Father that he might change things, or finally accept His will over our own (v. 36b Cf. Jn. 5:30; 6:38; 12:27; Is. 50:5).

Now Jesus returns to the trio, only to find them asleep. He then tells them to pray, not for himself, but for themselves, lest they fall into temptation. It was only going to be for one hour, but evidently this was too much (vv. 37-38a). Jesus, as a man, knew the reality that “the spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak” (v. 38b Cf. Rom. 7:18-24; Gal. 5:17). He knew the danger of temptation up to but not including giving in to it. Jesus prayed the same words again (v. 39). This is again instructive for us. It is not wrong to pray the same words until the answer becomes clear. However, when he returned he again found the trio asleep, “for their eyes were heavy; and they did not know what to answer Him” (v. 40). It happened again a third time, but by then the hour of his betrayal had come – his prayer was finally answered (vv. 41-42). It is interesting that this all took place at a garden (Jn. 18:1), reminiscent of the original garden no doubt, but now we pray “Abba Father” through being adopted, based on the finished work of Christ (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6; Heb. 5:7).

Mark 14:27-31 Betrayal, Denial, And Stumbling.

Mark 14:27-31 Betrayal, Denial, And Stumbling.

As Jesus and his disciples celebrated the Passover he stated that one of the twelve would betray him. Paradosei means to hand over, which is what the betrayer would do – hand over Jesus to the authorities who wanted him killed (v. 18). They each ask Jesus “Is it I?” This included Judas the betrayer. However, Jesus now states that they all “will be made to stumble” because of him (v. 27 Cf. v. 50; Mt. 26:31-35). However, Jesus was never alone (Jn. 16:32). Skandalisthasesthe, from which we get the word scandalous, indeed indicates how scandalous this would be. However, this would fulfill that which was written (gegraphtai) in the Hebrew scriptures of the first covenant, from the prophet Zechariah 13:7. According to Zechariah the purpose will be to judge the apostate majority, but to save a remnant, and refine them as silver or gold, in the fire of affliction, thereby achieving the ultimate goal of the covenant relationship – they his people and he their God (vv. 8-9 Cf. Is. 53:10).

Jesus also stated that his resurrection would change everything. Instead of stumbling, after he was raised he would go before them to Galilee, they obviously following (v. 28). This was something which the women would announce to the twelve, including Peter (16:7 Cf. Mt. 28:16; Jn. 21:1-2). Peter makes the bold contradiction that he would not stumble, but as Jesus predicted, he would deny Jesus three times (vv. 29-30). They all said that they would not deny him (v. 31). One might imagine that to deny (aparnasomai) Jesus would be the same as betrayal, but here it is not. To deny that they even knew Jesus was a stumbling on their part, but to be the one to actually actively hand him over for death – this was the betrayal. As it turned out, the disciples, including Peter, could not even stay awake to pray concerning what they heard and what lay ahead (vv. 32-42).

Mark 14:12-26 The Passover – Old And New.

Mark 14:12-26 The Passover – Old And New.

Many regard verses 22-26 as Jesus instituting “the Lord’s supper,” but they can only do so by taking these verses out of their context. When Jesus said “Take, eat; this is my body” (v. 22), they were eating the Passover meal. When he passed around the cup, it was the cup of the Passover that he referred to when he said “This is My blood of the new covenant” (v. 24 Cf. Ex. 12). The Passover lamb of this meal would soon find its ultimate fulfillment in the final and true Passover lamb of God (Cf. Jn. 1:29-34; I Cor. 5:7). Jesus instructed his disciples to prepare for the Passover, and directed them to the person and place that had been providentially prepared for them in advance. Jesus celebrated this meal with them even though he knew that there would be a betrayer with them, and that he would soon be the Passover offering of the new covenant spoken of by the prophets (Cf. Jer. 31:31ff.; Ezek. 16:62-63; Hos. 2:19-20; Heb. 8:8-12; 10:16-17). The last days of the old covenant were fast approaching, and the offering up of himself would usher in the new era. In this new era the leaven of sin and corruption would finally be removed (I Cor. 5:8).

Mark 14:1-11 The Passover Lamb Is Prepared.

Mark 14:1-11 The Passover Lamb Is Prepared.

The plotting of the assassination of the King of kings took place just before the Passover, and so it was predestined by the Father to focus on this seminal event. Jesus would be the fulfillment of the Passover lamb. Moses, like all the saints under the first covenant, “by faith…kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood” (Heb. 11:28a Cf. Ex. 12:1-27). Jesus was intent on keeping this Passover as well (Mt. 26:18). Paul would also go on to write that Jesus the Christ himself is “our Passover (who) was sacrificed for us” (I Cor. 5:7). With all of this scriptural witness it is all the more surprising that many miss this basic point – Jesus the Christ is The Passover Lamb. Jesus did not “institute” the so-called “Lord’s supper” – He celebrated the Passover with his disciples as the final Passover Lamb, bringing it to fulfillment in himself.

The Passover was also referred to as “the Feast of Unleavened Bread.” This was not a wafer or bit of leavened bread and sip of wine or grape juice, this was a feast! Part of what made this a feast was the fact that it was “unleavened,” where the participants would remove from their hearts and their houses all pretence and secret sins of thoughts and actions hiding out like leaven in a loaf of bread. How ironic then that as this feast approached the religious leadership were conspiring to assassinate the King of kings! “The chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by trickery and put him to death” (v. 1). There is no more ample proof that God’s sovereign will uses the perversity of men for his own purposes, including their ultimate destruction.

These religious hypocrites were nothing more than political hacks engaging in the most gruesome example of kabuki theatre – impressive masks and maneuvers covering crypts of all manner of evil intent. What was their chief concern? Don’t assassinate the man “during the feast,” not because of the leaven of murderous conspiracy against an innocent man, but “lest there be an uproar of the people” (v. 2 Cf. Lk. 22:1-2). There was less leaven “in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper” (v. 3a). Here the final Passover lamb would be anointed, prepared as the perfect sacrificial offering, once for all (v. 3b). Yet, even here there was leaven deep in the hearts of some, for “there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted” (v. 4)?

For the indignant the oil was wasted – because unlike this woman, they did not look ahead in faith to what was her hope of forgiveness and eternal life. They feigned concern for the poor, and how this was a much greater concern than the eternal destining of the souls of humanity bought at the costly price of the Son’s sacrifice. As is so often the case, they dare not criticize Jesus directly, but instead they go after his followers. Such has always been the great battle of the seed of death waging war against the Seed of life (v. 5). However, Jesus came to her defence, and so he does with all his family (v. 6). He was certainly not against helping the poor, but as he said, they and we have the poor with us always, and so we shall till the end when he returns in judgment, in part for how the poor have been treated.

However, there is something more important than being poor, it is being forgiven! There would be but one burial of the King of kings, and this woman was exercising her faith, doing “what she could,” looking ahead in faith for what was to come about shortly, that which she had always been looking forward to (vv. 7-8). What is more, “wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her” (v. 9). This woman is rich indeed! Contrasted with this woman is the infamous Judas, whose leaven of evil intent and acts were used of the sovereign Lord of history to aid in the accomplishment of this great event. Just like those who feigned concern for the poor, money is what drove Judas and his co-conspirators in this murderous intent and betrayal (vv. 10-11).