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Jesus Must Be Killed
The Passover is the foundation of all other feasts. It is the remembrance of the redemption from Egypt and the deliverance of the judgment of the first-born (Psa 78:51; Psa 136:10). The Feast of Unleavened Bread is closely related to this. It follows it, is the result of it. It represents the sanctification of the whole life of the redeemed.
The Passover speaks of the Lord Jesus as the sacrifice through which we are delivered from the power of the world (Egypt) and the judgment of God (the death of the firstborn). The Lord Jesus is presented in this Gospel as the sin offering (in Matthew: trespass offering; in Luke: peace offering; in John: burnt offering). Whoever is delivered by Him should lead – and will want to lead – a life dedicated to Him. This is what the Feast of Unleavened Bread speaks of. That feast lasts seven days. It is a picture of the whole life of the believer, in which sin – of which the leaven is a picture –, may have no place.
The feasts instituted by the Lord Jesus Himself – He is, after all, Yahweh – become an opportunity for the chief priests and scribes to seize and kill Him Who instituted these feasts. The worst enemies are always those who have been most in touch with the light. These religious leaders, who had to teach these feasts to the people in a God worthy manner, deliberate how they will kill Him Whom these feasts speak of!
But: Man proposes, but God disposes (Pro 16:1). We also see this here. They say: Not during the festival. God says: During the festival. And what do people’s deliberations mean when God has long since decided that it will be during the festival? It will happen on that day and on that feast, the feast that is in fact the foreshadowing of the death of Christ. God’s sovereignty is evidenced by the fact that He uses man’s evil will to carry out His plans.
Their submission not to do so at the feast is motivated by fear of a riot among the people. They know that the people admire Christ for His works and His goodness.
Anointing by Mary
Opposite the cold hatred of the religious leaders against the Lord radiates here the warmth of a woman’s affection for Him. Opposite the many haters stands this one person. She admires Him not only for His works and goodness, but also for the work He is going to do. It is Mary. Her name is not mentioned here because it’s not about who does it; it’s about what she does.
What she does happens in Simon’s house with the addition “the leper”. That he is no longer, otherwise he couldn’t dwell there, but it’s a reminder of what he was. The memory of what we were makes us thankful for Who the Lord is and what He has done. The Lord loves to be with thankful people. This is also the atmosphere in which the anointing can take place as a sign of worship.
The woman breaks the vial. It does not need to be used for anything else after this act. By breaking it, the contents can flow over His head unhindered. The vial shouldn’t get the attention, but the balm. Our life is like that vial. The more our lives are broken for Him, the more He gets from our lives the honor that is due to Him. Admiration should not be for a human being, but only for Him.
Reactions to the Anointing
The reaction of some of His disciples is disappointing. Here it appears that not only Judas blames the woman. Judas reacts out of greed for money. That doesn’t have to be the case with the other disciples. With them it may be more the insensitivity to what occupies the Lord. They understand nothing of Mary’s deed. They think what she is doing is just a waste of money that in their opinion could have been spent so much better. In this way they show that He is not precious in their eyes. What is done to Him is never a waste. He deserves the best we have.
Supposedly, they also have a noble motive with which they believe they can substantiate their indignation about her deed. It would have been better given to the poor. We can apply that to today. A lot of time and money is spent on all kinds of social work, but if the Lord Jesus is not given the honor, the work is for the glorification of man himself.
We hear no defense from the woman. The Lord stands up for her. He asks His disciples why they are bothering her. What’s the real reason? They should think about that. He says of the woman that she did a good deed to Him. She has come to do so because she has chosen the good part: sitting at His feet (Lk 10:39; 42). Nor has she done anything for Him, but to Him. Doing good to the poor is also a good work, but only if it is done at His command and in fellowship with Him. The poor will always be there, but He will go away from them, back to heaven.
The Lord gives her the compliment that only He can give. When He says that she has done what she could, it is with the perfect knowledge of all her efforts to come to this deed. That includes not only saving for this fortune, but also performing the deed. The incomprehension that this gives her makes her act even more impressive. What is misinterpreted by Judas, and the other disciples, is clothed by the Lord’s testimony with the light of Divine understanding. What a world of difference of judgment! Misunderstood by men, recognized by the Lord, that is the part of those who, through true love for Him, accomplish deeds which mean a waste of energy and resources for carnal Christians.
The woman, perhaps the only one, has sensed that the Lord will die. He has told the disciples several times, but they have never understood its reality and it has not marked their actions. This woman is unique to Him. He has not found such sympathy with anyone else. She has anointed Him beforehand for the burial. Others will also want to anoint Him when He is buried. Although that is also a good deed, they will come too late for it to be done.
The act of Mary will always be inextricably linked to the gospel that is preached. In other words, the salvation of sinners must result in God being worshipped. The Father seeks worshippers (Jn 4:23). Christ’s work is to ensure that the Father will also find these worshippers, as Mary was. What deeds do we do which are worthy to be proclaimed to the world in connection with the Lord Jesus and have the effect that the Father is worshipped?
The Betrayal of Judas
What Judas is about to do contrasts sharply with what Mary has done. She has done a good work; he is going to do an evil work. Judas is called “one of the twelve”. It is particularly painful that someone from the circle of the disciples is going to do this extremely bad deed.
The chief priests think of Judas as a gift from heaven, but he comes into contact with hell. The hypocrites don’t care either, as long as they can get rid of this Jesus. That someone comes out of His company is very pleasing to them. They rejoice about it with a devilish joy. No one can give them more reliable information about Jesus than someone who has been with Him for years.
They want to tie the traitor to themselves with some money and make him their accomplice. Money is exactly why Judas wants to commit his betrayal. Greed has him in its grip (1Tim 6:10). The agreement is made and Judas goes looking for an opportunity to surrender the Lord. He will get that opportunity at the convenient time, which is the time determined by God.
Preparation of the Passover
While Judas is busy looking for an opportunity to deliver up the Lord, the other disciples want to commit themselves to Him that He can eat the Passover. It has now become Thursday, the fifth day of the week that will be the most memorable of all the weeks that have ever been on earth. The Lord knows that during this Passover, He will be slain as the Lamb in order to work a better salvation than that from Egypt.
As visitors to Jerusalem for the celebration of the Passover, He and His disciples have no home of their own. With the hustle and bustle it will also be difficult to find a vacant building. Their question shows that their hearts go out to this celebration. Above all, they understand that it is His desire. They want to make preparations for the Passover so that He can eat it.
What seems to be a practical difficulty is not a difficulty for the Lord. He knows where He can go. He sends out two of His disciples and gives them directions to come to the place where He wants to celebrate the Passover with His disciples. He does not give an address, but some characteristics. This means that they must be careful to see if they can perceive the attributes He has given.
They have to look for someone to meet them - they don’t have to pass anyone - who is carrying a pitcher of water. Normally women carry the pitchers, but this is a man. If they see that man, they must follow him. The water in the pitcher is most likely the water with which the Lord will wash the feet of the disciples (Jn 13:5). The place of the Lord is a clean place, where cleansing takes place.
Here we have a beautiful picture of how Christ brings believers to the place where He meets with them. It is not about an address, but about the heart of the seeker. The man carrying the pitcher of water represents a believer who is guided by God’s Word, of which the water is a picture (Eph 5:26). The Lord Jesus wants to bring believers seeking the place of gathering around Him into contact with believers who place their lives under the authority of God’s Word. Such believers can from that Word teach others about the gathering of believers and show them what, according to Scripture, are the spiritual characteristics of that place of gathering. We prepare it for Him when we are there in accordance with what befits Him.
The disciples should follow the man to the house where he enters. Then they may ask the owner of that house in the Master’s name for His “guest room”. They may also say what He needs that guest room for. “Guest room” is the same word as “inn”. Both words are wonderful names for what the church is supposed to be. We are guests with Him, the Master, and He has brought us, who once were in the power of satan, into the inn of the church (cf. Lk 10:33-35). As a church we are allowed to have this ‘inn function’ for others as well.
It is “My” guest room, the guest room of the Lord Jesus, because the church is His. The word ‘inn’ is the same as in Luke 2 (Lk 2:7), in which there was no room for Him at His birth. In the world where there is no place for Him, He Himself has an inn for His own, where He receives them with Himself.
The disciples will discover that there is not only a large upper room furnished and ready, but also a prepared heart with the lord of that house (cf. Mk 11:3). The upper room has the following characteristics:
1. It is a “large” upper room, there is room for many.
2. It is a “furnished” upper room, everything is present, nothing needs to be added.
3. It is a “ready” upper room, the room is ready to use, nothing needs to be organized to make it all run smoothly.
4. It’s an “upper room”, it’s a space elevated above the bustle of the world.
In such a place, believers may come together to honor the slain Lamb for the work He has done.
As always, it also happens now as the Lord has said. Only those who obediently do what He says will experience this. All those who know this do not boast of it, but acknowledge that it is a great grace that they were allowed to obey and act according to His Word.
Celebrating the Passover
It is evening, the evening before the last night of the Lord Jesus’ life before His death. He is perfectly aware of all that will come upon Him. He does not flee, but “came” with the twelve. Every step of Him is a conscious step toward His death.
Then they recline and eat the Passover. While they are at rest and eating the Passover, they will have thought of the exodus from Egypt and the miraculous deliverance that God has worked. Suddenly their thoughts are startled by a remark of the Lord Jesus. He does not want them to be occupied now with a memory, with the past, but with the present, with the fulfilment of what the Passover refers to.
He introduces His remark with “truly”, emphasizing the certainty of what He is about to say. Then He speaks of His being betrayed by one of them. He does so without mentioning a name. He wants everyone to test themselves (1Cor 11:28) and wonder if he is able to do so. It is also to ask oneself: Why am I here: Out of love or out of habit?
His remark disturbs the festive character of the meal. The disciples are saddened and ask Him one by one: “Surely not I?” There is no spokesperson here to ask on behalf of the other disciples who it is. Each one comes personally with his question to the Lord about a possible involvement in this betrayal.
That gives the question that each of the eleven disciples asks, something that is beautiful and striking. None of them, except Judas, thinks about betraying Him. His word, however, is true. Their hearts recognize this, and there is a great mistrust in each one of them in the presence of Christ’s words. There is no proud self-confidence in them that they will not do it, but their hearts bow down to these serious and terrible words. They have more confidence in the Lord’s words than in themselves. This is a beautiful testimony of their sincerity.
The Lord does not mention a name, but makes it clear by an act who will do it. This act of affection, an expression of friendship, should strike the heart of Judas, if it were not yet completely hardened.
The Lord says that He will go to the cross, a way that is in accordance with what is written about Him. However, that does not take away the responsibility of the human being who will deliver Him to that way. He declares that it would have been good for this man that he had not been born.
What He says has to do with the responsibility of Judas. Judas is fully responsible for what he does. He too has had enough chances to repent, but he didn’t want to. The closer a person is to God’s blessings outwardly, the further away he becomes from them spiritually if he doesn’t take them in his heart.
Institution of the Supper
While they were eating the Passover the Lord institutes the Supper. So the Supper is different from the Passover. At the same time it is very closely related to it. Like the Passover, the Supper speaks of Himself. But there is a difference. The Passover is the memory of an event. It is not a memory of the lamb, but of the passing of judgment. The Supper, on the other hand, is first and foremost the memory of a Person.
The Lord does not take a piece of the Paschal lamb, but of the bread. He takes something new and institutes something new. In the bread He introduces Himself. The broken bread represents Him in His surrender on the cross. Paul later, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, adds another new thought to the bread. The one bread represents the whole church (1Cor 10:17). The church is also called the body of Christ (Col 1:18).
The Lord Jesus gives His disciples the broken bread. It is His meal and He is the Host. Judas is no longer there. The Supper is only for children of God and not for unbelievers. With a short and therefore meaningful “take” He invites them to take from the bread. He explained what they were allowed to take: they were allowed to take His body. It is that body in which He has served God perfectly as the true Servant and Prophet. Everything He is and has done is made available to us in the ‘take’. He was able to do this because He surrendered His body to death, for He gives the bread as broken bread.
The doctrine of the roman catholic church that the bread changes into the real body of Christ is a pernicious error. When the Lord here says to His disciples “this is My body,” He Himself is still physically present. He means to say that this bread represents His body, that it is a symbol of it. We can compare it to a picture that someone shows to someone else and says: “This is my wife.” No one’s going to think of seeing his wife in that piece of paper. It’s about the picture. Thus the bread at that moment is the picture of the body of Christ, while it is and remains ordinary bread.
The cup is also part of the Supper. The Lord takes it, gives thanks for it, and gives it to His disciples. They all drink from it. The cup goes round. It symbolizes the fellowship they have with one another. The drinking cup was not part of the Passover either. It’s not spoken of in Exodus.
The Lord says what the cup represents. The wine in it represents His blood. He says of the blood: “My blood of the covenant.” Thus He points to the result of His work. The disciples know the blood, but as something that protected against judgment in Egypt (Exo 12:13). But here the blood is the foundation of the new covenant. Because of His shed blood, many will participate in the new covenant that God will make with His people.
On the basis of the old covenant, Israel has forfeited all promises and awaits only the judgment. The old covenant has also been ratified with blood, but that is the blood of judgment (Exo 24:8). Through the blood of Christ, God can make a new covenant with His people. While the people have failed to fulfill all of God’s demands, Christ has fulfilled them perfectly. The new covenant asks nothing of man. He has done everything necessary for the new covenant. All those who repent to God and believe in the Lord Jesus will receive the blessings of that new covenant. For Israel these are the earthly blessings promised in the Old Testament and for the church these are the spiritual heavenly blessings.
He Himself will no longer drink from the fruit of the vine. This means that the blood represented by the wine, the fruit of the vine, speaks not only of the forgiveness of sins, but also of the joy resulting from the shedding of His blood. The wine speaks of the joy of those who belong to Him. This joy contrasts with the fear that characterized the Passover night. Paul therefore speaks of the cup of blessing (1Cor 10:16). That our sins are forgiven is a cause of joy.
In connection with the new covenant, it also speaks of the blessings of the kingdom of peace on earth. The kingdom of peace in which the new covenant will be fulfilled is not yet there. Because of His death there is no more earthly joy for Him. Therefore He not any longer drinks of the fruit of the vine. But the time will come when the kingdom of God will be established on earth. Then He will drink of the fruit of the vine in a new way. Then He will enjoy to satisfaction the great joy of the glorious results of His work concerning Israel (Isa 53:11). For us, that joy is there already now in the kingdom of God (Rom 14:17).
Despite the suffering that awaits Him, the Lord sings the praises of God with His disciples at the end of the meal. That must have been the Psalms 113-118. Then they go out to the Mount of Olives. There, in Gethsemane, He will fight the toughest spiritual battle ever in view of the work He has just set out for the hearts of His disciples in the Supper.
Denial by Peter Foretold
The Lord warns His disciples of what will happen to them. He speaks of how the cross will test them. The striking down of the Shepherd here is not the judgment of God that will afflict Him. By the judgment of God that has come upon Him, the sheep have not been scattered, but rather gathered together and formed into one flock (Jn 10:16). Here is the other aspect of the cross: His complete rejection as Messiah. When the disciples see this, they will fall away and flee. That will happen even before their Master is actually struck down.
The Lord also points out His resurrection and the place of humble service that He will then take together with His disciples. He will go ahead of them to Galilee, the area where He has performed the greater part of His service. That is where He has begun, and there He will instruct His disciples as to the service they will begin when He is no longer with them.
Peter does not agree with Him and promises to remain completely faithful to Him, no matter what happens. Even if everyone were to fall away, at least he would not. He is sincere in his statement, but his statement stems from self-confidence and a complete lack of self-knowledge. He thinks he will never deny the Lord. Others might, but he certainly wouldn’t. He does not know himself and thinks he is better than others. Sincerity is not enough to save someone from a fall. A man’s heart is so bad, and man himself so weak, that only the awareness of Divine grace can save him from it.
The Lord tells Peter unequivocally that he will deny Him even three times. And that denial will not be long in coming. He does not predict anything that Peter might simply have forgotten as the years go by. How sad it must have been for him to notice this self-confidence in the best of his disciples. How little Peter had learned from Him about himself. Have I already learned more?
Peter sticks to his pronunciation and adds to it. He contradicts the Lord. Then the fall is inevitable. We can only be saved if we allow ourselves to be warned by the word of the Lord and not stubbornly hold on to our conception of our own loyalty to Him. By the way, Peter is not the only one who says of himself that he will never deny the Lord. The other disciples also say that they will not. It speaks, on the one hand, of their adherence to Him and, on the other hand, of not knowing the weakness of the flesh.
The Lord is nearing the end of His trial, a trial that only reveals His glory and perfection, and at the same time glorifies His Father. He is approaching the battle and suffering with a full knowledge of its contents, and not with the lightness of a Peter who throws himself into it because he is unfamiliar with its meaning. The Lord grants His disciples rest as He prepares Himself for the fiercest battle of prayer ever fought.
He takes Peter, James, and John with him because these three disciples will later do a special work. In order to prepare them for this, He wants to introduce them deeper into the work He is going to do. They have seen how He made the daughter of Jaïrus alive from the dead and they have also seen His glory on the mountain. Now they will see the foundation on which He was able to raise a dead one and show His glory. It was only possible because He Himself would die. Our service depends on the awareness we have of the work He accomplished on the cross and what that meant to Him. We will never be able to gauge the full depth of it, but we will increasingly admire Him.
The Lord communicates His feelings to His disciples. Then He must go the last part alone. The disciples must stay where they are because they cannot follow Him to the end. What they can do is keep watch, stay awake until He returns from His heavy prayer struggle. When a deep trial awaits, the effect of prayer is that the trial is felt even more intensely. The Lord is facing a suffering that of all people will affect only Him: being forsaken of God because of being made sin.
He places Himself in the presence of His God and Father, where everything is weighed up and where the will of the One Who imposed this task on Him is clearly affirmed in His fellowship with Him. Precisely the intimate fellowship with his God will be broken in the hours of darkness on the cross by God Who will let loose the whole heat of His wrath over sin. This agony of soul was not found among people, as was the case with Stephen (Acts 7:55; 59). Here we see what the death of the Lord Jesus meant: bearing our sins in His body on the cross (1Pet 2:24a).
The Lord prays that that cup may be removed from Him. He is not insensitive to what that cup means. On the contrary, it proves His perfection. The awareness of being made sin fills His soul with abhorrence. At the same time, He surrenders Himself in this as the perfect Servant to the will of His Father. He wants nothing more than to do His will; there is no opposite will with Him.
He prays in full confidence that anything is possible for the Father. He speaks to Him as “Abba! Father!” This indicates the Son’s most intimate relationship with the Father. There is no distance here, no abandonment by God. ‘Abba’ is the expression of complete trust. The Lord has introduced us into that relationship. We may also say “Abba, Father” (Rom 8:15; Gal 4:5-6). It is the childlike trust with which a son comes to his father. He asks: “Only if My wish is in agreement with Yours, remove this cup, otherwise not.”
When the Lord goes back to the three disciples, He finds all three of them sleeping, even though all three of them had said they would never abandon Him. He speaks only to Peter. He speaks to him with his old name “Simon”. Peter has just sworn his complete loyalty to Him and now he is sleeping, while the Lord has asked him to keep watch. Faithfulness to the Lord is seen in the first place in keeping watch with Him. To keep watch is to have a watchful eye on events so that we are brought to prayer. When we are sleeping, we are eliminated and the enemy can do his work. Peter’s inability to keep watch for one hour heralds his fall.
The Lord advises Peter to keep watching and praying, or else he will come into temptation. He knows the good intentions of Peter and His other disciples, but He also knows that the flesh is weak. All good intentions do not preserve from a fall. That only is done by keeping watch and praying. We never find that the Lord’s own suffering prevents Him from thinking of others. He thinks of His mother and John on the cross, and of the murderer who was crucified with Him.
But His battle is not yet finished. He will battle again by praying what He has prayed before. This shows His perfection. It means that He takes on the task He has to accomplish completely out of God’s hand and puts it into God’s hand.
Despite His warning words, the disciples have fallen asleep again. It also takes so long. The Lord’s prayer battle lasts another hour. That is too long for weary people to keep watch and stay awake. We can only do that if we’re completely seized by a certain matter. The disciples should have been aware of what awaited Him. He sought this compassion, but did not find it (Psa 69:20b). He finds them sleeping again, they have lost the battle against sleep. How difficult it is to really sympathize with someone who is in need. They feel ashamed that they have been sleeping again.
For the third time the Lord prays for an hour. His three times one hour of prayer corresponds to the three hours He will be made sin on the cross. In prayer He has lived through all that work in His soul in the presence of God in order to actually enter and endure those three hours without God.
Because His battle is over, they don’t have to keep watch with Him any longer. They can now remain at rest spiritually. He announces that now what He has said three times before will happen. In perfect rest which is the result of His surrender in prayer, He commands His disciples to rise. The time of keeping watch and praying is over. What remains is to undergo all the actions that evil people will perform with Him and His work on the cross where God will deal with Him. Peter will fail because he has slept. The Lord has been waking and praying and can confidently go on in dependence on His God and will remain standing.
The Lord is ready. Therefore His enemies can come to take Him captive. God’s time has come, and therefore the power of the enemy can manifest itself. They are not aware that they are going to fulfill God’s plan in God’s time. That is not up to them either. They are entirely responsible for this crime, which can’t be compared to any other, and will be judged for it.
Judas is coming. He is still referred to as “one of the twelve” to indicate that he has lived so closely with the Lord Jesus. He leads a crowd, armed with swords and clubs. It is an armed crowd, because it is a dangerous “criminal” who could fiercely resist with His little army of disciples. They come from the religious center, from where the good words of God should have flowed, and from where God’s people should be governed according to the law. It is precisely they who are insisting that the Name they represent be wiped from the face of the earth. The contradictions cannot be greater!
When it comes to his deed, the name of Judas is not mentioned, but is said “he who was betraying Him”, thus emphasizing his terrible deed. This treacherous act is linked to what is the proof of love: a kiss. He will appoint the Lord by kissing Him. It means that the Lord is not directly distinguishable from His disciples. It is also dark. They shouldn’t arrest the wrong person.
What a tragic ignorance about Him by suggesting that they should lead Him away “under guard”. Has Judas learned nothing from His power? No, he didn’t. Unbelief cannot be persuaded by the power of the Lord.
When Judas reaches Him, he goes straight to Him. He falls around His neck, greets Him with “Rabbi” and kisses Him “intimately” or “many times”. He has never called the Lord Jesus ‘Lord’. He greets Him with the proof of the most profound love, while there is only falsehood and greed in His heart. The ‘Judas kiss’ will become proverbial as the act of a traitor who commits treason by abusing intimacy. It does not ambush the Lord, but it hurts His soul to the depths (Psa 41:9).
Mark does not mention the Lord’s addressing of Judas. He immediately describes that the Lord is captured. He does not defend Himself, but allows evil people to seize Him.
Peter who slept during his Master’s serious prayer awakens to strike, while his Master surrenders Himself like a lamb to be led to the slaughterhouse. Once again, he disagrees with his Master’s path and comes to an act that is wrong and irreparable for him. There can be no good fight for the Lord without prayer. Just as he previously, out of love for his Master, took too great a word for himself, he is now, also out of love for his Master, performing an overconfident act. As if his Master needed his defense. Nor does Mark mention the healing of the ear that Peter cut off. It is not mentioned because this Gospel is not about the power of the Lord, but about His submission as a Servant. Mark also doesn’t mention the fact that the Lord speaks to Peter about his deed.
The Lord speaks to the crowd. In full dignity He responds to the crime that is done to Him. He speaks to their conscience. In Gethsemane, in the presence of God, He went through everything in the spirit, and was therefore in the presence of people in perfect peace and tranquility. Is He a robber that they came at Him so armed to capture Him? What has He ever robbed? He Who only gave to and never took from others.
He points out that He was with them “every day”. This is a beautiful expression that indicates that He had come so close to them. And not occasionally in a sudden appearance, but He was among them daily, He was One of them. They heard Him speak in the temple. His teaching has always been a blessing, He never used inflammatory language. He spoke the words of God to them, and He did so with authority.
That they did not catch Him then is because it was not yet the time of the fulfillment of the Scriptures. That time has now come and that is why they are given the opportunity now. He wishes to give testimony to the Scriptures in all things. If they announce His death, He must die. As a Man on earth, He takes them as a rule and motive for everything He says and does.
If the disciples see that the Lord allows Himself to be bound and does not use His power to liberate Himself, they all flee, as He foretold (Mk 14:27). He goes the way completely alone. We are all at a great distance, as once the people stood at a great distance when the ark entered the Jordan (Jos 3:3-4).
There is still a young man who wants to follow Him. But the way the Lord goes can only be gone by those who are called to it. One’s own will will always fail. He must go this way alone. He has asked in Gethsemane to pray and keep watch with Him. It did not happen there. Now it doesn’t have to and can’t be done.
The further a person dares, without the power of the Holy Spirit, to go on the path where the power of the world and death are, the greater the shame with which a person escapes. If God at least allows the possibility to escape. The young man flees undressed. The “linen” from which the garment is made is also seen in the piece of “linen” in which Joseph of Arimathea wraps the Lord Jesus (Mk 15:46). It is a shroud. The young man had to leave it behind.
To the High Priest
With devilish joy the religious leadership gathers under the presidency of the High Priest. The Lord Jesus is led away to him. This is the moment they looked forward to with intense longing. They have their great adversary in their power, they believe.
The Lord here undergoes the first interrogation of the four to which He is subjected in this one night. After this interrogation He comes before Pilate (Mk 15:2-5), then before Herod (Lk 23:6-12) and finally again before Pilate (Mk 15:6-15).
Peter ventures to follow the Lord even further on the way He must go than the young man who also wanted to, but who was seized and fled in defamation. Peter will have an even more defamatory descent than the young man. In Mk 14:47 Peter has fought the enemies of the Lord, now he makes himself one with them. He warms himself with them at the fire, while the Lord exposes Himself to the hatred of cold hearts in the cold of the night.
Interrogation by the Council
The trial that follows is not an investigation of His actions, but an attempt to cover murder with a semblance of righteousness. In their hatred they want only one thing: They must and will have something that they consider a valid reason to kill Him.
They deliberately look for witnesses who can bring something against Him, no matter how false the accusation may be. Any witness who testifies against Him can only give a false testimony. Each time it turns out that the witnesses contradict each other. There are no two witnesses who bring the same slander against Him. They fall short, not in their wickedness, but in the certainty of what they testify.
Then there are some who seem to give the prosecutors the necessary motive for their murder. The content of their testimony has to do with something the Lord said at the beginning of His performance (Jn 2:19). But if the prosecutors ask about it, that testimony, too, is not consistent.
It strongly seems that the leaders of the people have attached great value to the appearance of justice. Otherwise they would have persuaded two witnesses to say the same thing. But apparently they did not want to go that far, probably in view of possible questions that could be asked afterwards. They cunningly covered themselves up for this in advance.
At this point the judges should have released Him. However, the verdict was already final, only a ground for His conviction still had to and would be found. They will get it, and it will be the testimony of the truth. The Lord will be condemned on the basis of His own confession of the truth.
Interrogation by the High Priest
The high priest stands up from his chair. He stands up and comes forward, he is part of the troop of prosecutors and is not an independent judge. All honesty is lacking in this sham trial against the Son of God. The high priest now takes charge of the interrogation himself. He is surprised that the Lord does not answer to all the witnesses who have spoken.
But the Lord does not defend Himself against false accusations. He does not respond to what the high priest says. He is both the Suffering and the Ruling. He determines what happens and what He says. Then the high priest says something to which he does respond. This is not a false accusation, but a question about His Person, whether He is the Messiah, the Son of God. Well, the Messiah is the Son of God.
To the high priest’s question as to whether He is the Christ, the Son of the Blessed, the Lord gives an affirmative answer. Yes, He is. But in His answer He goes far beyond the high priest’s question. He adds His glory as the Son of Man. The high priest’s question has to do with Psalm 2, the Lord’s answer with Psalm 8. He is the Son of God after Psalm 2 (Psa 2:7), but He is also the Son of Man Who will reign over the universe according to Psalm 8 (Psa 8:4-7). He is the Son of David and He is also the Lord of David.
Now He is as the Rejected among them and they can do with Him whatever they want. But there will come a time when they will see Him as the Son of Man sitting at God’s right hand and He will come back with the clouds of heaven. That is, after His rejection He will take up a new position, as mentioned in Psalm 110 (Psa 110:1), and then come as the Son of Man according to Daniel 7 (Dan 7:13-14).
The religious leaders know only too well that in doing so He is saying that He is the Messiah. And this testimony concerning the truth of His own Person becomes the basis of His condemnation. What He has now said is for the high priest the requested evidence for His condemnation. He tears his clothes, entirely against the law (Lev 21:10), as proof of his indignation at that presumption, while his heart cheers. All witnesses can go, for they are no longer needed.
The supreme blindness of man, and of religious man in particular, is evidenced by the fact that he accuses Him, Who is the Lord of glory, of blasphemy when He speaks the truth and condemns Him to death for it (1Cor 2:7-8). The Lord is not condemned on the basis of a false testimony of man. His own confession, His faithfulness in speaking the truth before the whole council, is the cause of His condemnation.
His judges and prosecutors celebrate because they have succeeded in finding a reason for His condemnation. The Lord is not spared mockery and humiliation (cf. Job 30:10). After the mighty testimony of Mk 14:62, this is now His share. Where has it ever been shown that during a trial both judges and prosecutors after a verdict both spit and beat the condemned person (Mic 5:1c)?
The Lord allows everything to happen to Him without defending Himself once or repelling punches. His opponents enjoy themselves with Him. They want Him to entertain them by once more showing His qualities as a prophet. They blindfold Him, beat Him with their fists, and then ask Him to show them who beat Him. It is all written down in God’s book (Psa 56:8c). Man will have to account for every mocking word and every mocking act to Him Whom they now abuse so much.
Denial by Peter
While the Lord is mocked and despised, something happens in the court that affects Him more deeply than all the defamation of the Council. Peter is in a place where he should not be and in a company where he does not belong. This puts him in a position where satan can tempt him and where he cannot stand in the evil day. The evil day is the day when satan is especially aimed at the believer and a believer can only stand if he is wearing the whole armor of God (Eph 6:13). Satan has abundant servants in that environment. The servant he uses first is one of the high priest’s maids.
She sees Peter warming himself. She observes him and recognizes him as someone who was also with that Jesus. She calls him “the Nazarene”. In her voice, the contempt that befits the pronunciation of this name could be heard. The word of a maid was enough to lead Peter to deny his Lord. So powerless is he who has expressly said to give his life for Him (Mk 14:31) to be able to face death.
Peter denies that there is any relationship between him and the Lord. He is not aware of anything. He does not understand what she is saying. He keeps himself even more ignorant than all the enemies. He denies belonging to the Lord as the Despised. By his denial Peter adds an even harder blow to the Lord than the blows that had already hit Him.
Peter’s denial is mentioned by all four evangelists because the lesson that we should distrust ourselves is so important. The sinner must be broken, but so must the believer! The fall of Peter takes place in stages:
1. First he boasts in his own strength (Mk 14:31);
2. then he is sleeping when he should have been keeping watch and praying (Mk 14:37);
3. then he draws the sword when he should have bowed (Mk 14:47);
4. he follows the Lord at a distance (Mk 14:54);
5. he sits with the enemies to warm himself by their fire (Mk 14:54);
6. finally there is a triple denial (Mk 14:68; 70; 71).
After his first denial the rooster crows, but it does not bring Peter to contemplation. He continues on his way. His fall must become complete because the Lord cannot teach him the lesson of self-denial in any other way.
As the enemies of the Lord discuss events with each other, the maid makes others aware of Peter. Peter’s statement that he does not belong to the Lord did not convince her. She now speaks of him being one of them, that he belongs to the company of disciples which followed the Lord. Peter denies it again. He does not belong to Him nor does he belong to His followers. He denies any relationship.
Then others say that he does belong because they say he is also a Galilean. That is what they hear in his dialect. Peter now feels so cornered that he speaks of his Savior in the strongest terms as “this man”, and swears that he does not know Him. What a contrast with his earlier confession: You are the Christ (Mk 8:29).
Then the rooster crows a second time. This awakens the conscience of Peter. He remembers the word the Lord said. This brings him to repentance and tears begin to flow. The work of repentance and conversion began through the remark or the word that the Lord had said to him. The Word of God is always the means by which a man comes to confession and repentance and by which he is cleansed (Eph 5:26).
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Mark 14". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13