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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Mark 14

 

 

Verses 1-72

Mark 14:1-2. After two days was the passover, when the chief priests and the scribes sought to form their plan, how they might surprise the Saviour and put him to death. Their scheme to do it after the passover was sacrificed, and the people returned to the country, was very prudent, in order to prevent an insurrection. But how then would the scriptures have been fulfilled, in regard of the sprinkling of the Lamb’s blood for our redemption from sin, and the tyranny of Satan.

Mark 14:3. There came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard, very precious, and she poured it upon his head. Oils and ointments were much used among the jews for the removal of diseases. The name is in Hebrew and Greek, pistaca, and ναρδου, nard; of which exquisite perfumes were compounded for feasts and private uses. But the rabbins had a canon against scholars making use of perfumes. Judas therefore, and others, were emboldened to exclaim against such profusion. The nard of the Hebrews is thus described by Dr. Blaney. Nardicus Indica is of the order gramina, and is of a different species. In India it grows as common grass in large tufts near to each other, and from three to four feet high. So strong is its aroma, which principally resides in the husky roots, that when trodden upon, or otherwise bruised, the air is filled with the fragrance. Yet no Indian perfume can equal that charity, which is to God a sweet smelling savour.

Mark 14:5. It might have been sold for more than three hundred pense. The learned Bude, of Paris, has spent much time on the Hebrew and Syrian weights, measures, and coins; and he coincides with the general opinion, that the silver denarion was in value about sevenpense halfpenny. In that case, the oriental jar which Mary unsealed, would be worth more than nine pounds sterling: proofs of the wealth and opulence of Lazarus’s house.

Mark 14:6-8. Let her alone — she is come afore-hand to anoint my body to the burying. An elegant turn to repress the murmuring. She was prompted with a religious feeling by the Holy Spirit to do what she did not perfectly understand; and the great Prophet improved that feeling into a luminous prediction, that he was come up to the passover to be the very paschal lamb, sacrificed for our redemption. This act gave Mary a high rank among the prophetesses of the church, and a lasting record among the more holy of women.

Mark 14:12. The first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover. The day when they searched the house with candles, and cleared it of all leaven. Before the jews ate of this joyful sacrifice, they were purified for seven days; and all persons disappointed of eating it by any uncleanness, or otherwise, were allowed to eat it on the fourteenth day of the second month. In this they are models to christians who are negligent of sacraments.

Mark 14:13. There shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water. Thus providence sped their way, as Abraham’s steward when seeking a wife for his master’s son. Favourable openings, whether near or remote, encourage men in the path of duty. See on Matthew 26:11.

Mark 14:21. Good were it for that man if he had never been born. Sad case! On looking round for a vestige of hope, or an avenue of escape for Judas, we can see no opening, no way, no path of retreat. Yet it does not belong to man to pronounce the final sentence on man. We ought however to be warned, by every prey of the roaring lion, against any habitual sin. Covetousness was Judas’s sin, a vice which takes deep root in the heart, as thorns in the earth. A man who cherishes the serpent of any besetting sin in his bosom, against all remonstrances, and even against chastisements, may be damned for it at last.

Mark 14:24. This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many — for the remission of sins, as Matthew adds. Then the death of Christ was a sacrifice for sin, as we have stated. Leviticus 16:14. The one altar and the one sin-offering of a lamb, daily repeated, bare the sins of many. The language of an apostle corresponds: As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Romans 5:19.

Mark 14:25. I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God. Matthew reads, the kingdom of my Father: Matthew 26:29. Both the evangelists place these words after the Saviour had tasted the joyful cup, and consecrated bread and wine to be the symbols of his body and blood. Therefore the words designate the near approach of his death; and what is glorious, that there is in heaven a more liberal feast than the best of saints are allowed to taste on earth.

Mark 14:26. When they had sung a hymn. The eucharistal ode, mostly selected from the great Hallel of the Hebrews, that is, from Psalms 113:-9., though in celebrating the exodus of Egypt, Psalms 114. was much sung at the passover. God has given the church those sublime and beautiful hymns, that the children of Zion may sing in their pilgrimage, and forget their sorrows.

They went out. Jesus retired to mount Olivet, and entered the garden of Gethsemane.

Mark 14:34. My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death. Our Saviour here discovered all the feelings of humanity — of humanity exposed to all the powers of darkness, and the rage of men. He wondered that there was none to uphold, no second in the great fight: so his own arm brought salvation. Here then is love, divine love, which bowed to all the pleasure of the Father, and drank the bitter cup. When he prayed for man, guilty man, not one iota could be abated of the price of his redemption. Life must be sacrificed for life. The serpent must bruise his heel by the most painful sting of death. Here the tragic grandeur of our incarnate God shines out. He sustained the conflict, till the indignation against a guilty world was over- past. He covered us with his arm; he bore the tempest, and became a hidingplace from the storm. Men, like the disciples, were asleep, and knew not what the Redeemer had done for them, in this most dark and most tempestuous night.

Mark 14:51. There followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body. Not one of the apostles, but some youth who seems to have left his bed to see what there was to do. This circumstance is collateral evidence of the truth of the gospel history. Fenelon, speaking of the golden age, says, their clothes are easily made, for in this happy climate they wear only a piece of light cloth, which every one throws over his shoulder, and wraps round his body for the sake of modesty, giving it what form they please. — Telem, livre 8.

Mark 14:53. They led Jesus away to the highpriest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests, and the elders, and the scribes. This was probably counted the council of twenty three, equivalent to decide in cases of life and death. These wolves must have assembled in the night to suck the blood of the Lamb of God. Three months before, on the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead, they had entered into a fixed purpose to put the Saviour to death, as stated in John 11:53. From that time, having become reprobate to the uttermost, they had a limited commission granted them to do their pleasure against the Lord, and against his anointed. This was their hour.

Mark 14:54. Peter followed him afar off. Peter’s fall and restoration are stated in John 21.

Mark 14:55. The chief priests and all the council sought for witness [false witnesses, as in Matthew] against Jesus, to put him to death. Enemies and opposers of the ancient prophets were never wanting, and the same spirit is ever propagated in the human heart. On the death of Christ, as in Mark 14:53, they were predetermined; now they sought for witness of blasphemy, that under the colour of a fair trial, and the garb of zeal for the law of the Lord, they might disguise the murder as a meritorious deed. These are the depths of Satan.

Mark 14:58-59. We heard him say, I will destroy this temple made with hands — but neither so did their witness agree together. The Vulgate reads, convenientia testimonia non erant. The Mons version reads, mais ce témoignage-la même n’etait pas encore suffisant. “But this evidence was not indeed sufficient” to affect the life of the Saviour. To these allegations the Lord made no reply: they merited silent contempt.

Mark 14:61-62. Again the highpriest asked him — Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven, as the holy prophets have said from the beginning of the world. 1:14-15. Psalms 50:3; Psalms 110:1. Isaiah 50:6. Daniel 7:9-10. Zechariah 14:3-11. What a glorious confession, what a model for confessors and martyrs. What a rock and pillar of repose for the church. St. Paul gives Timothy charge in the sight of God, and of Jesus Christ, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession, that he was the Messiah, the king of the jews, to keep the commandment without spot, and unrebukable until his appearing. 1 Timothy 6:13-14.

REFLECTIONS.

In this and the four preseding chapters, we see the Saviour moving with majesty to give a glorious consummation to the work of our redemption. His counsel was sure, his plans were perfect, and his reprobate foes were made subservient to fulfil all the counsel of the Holy One.

Having silenced all his foes in the temple, as stated in Matthew 22:23., we here see him turn his regards to the confirmation of the church. He discovers himself to his disciples as the true Messiah by a series of striking prophecies, foretelling his exit, by the unguents which Mary poured on his head; and the earnest desire he had to eat the passover with his disciples before his passion.

As the ancients when they met for covenants of peace, had a sacrificial feast of meat-offerings and wine, so the Saviour took bread and poured benedictions upon it, and taking the joyful cup he gave thanks in like manner; or as our Saxon ancestors said, he hallowed bread and wine to husel. And the apostles did as commanded by Christ: HI HALIODON HLAF, and win to husel in remembrance of him. Therefore that holy sacrament is called a mystery, because in it there is one thing seen, and another thing understood. That which is seen has local figure, and that which is understood has ghostly might. Certainly, Christ’s body which suffered death is impassible; but the husel is temporal, not eternal. — And oh how much sweeter were the words of Christ than the bread and the wine, when he spake of his Father’s house, of the Comforter, of his advent, and of his presence with them to the end of time. But alas, as this feast was spoiled through the treason of Judas, so the church is still afflicted with many apostates who crucify the Lord afresh, and put him to open shame.

Before the Saviour entered on his passion, he kindly warned the disciples of their frailty, how they would all be offended at the cross, would forsake him, and leave him alone; and yet he was not alone, for the Father was with him. But so it was arranged in the counsel and love of the Father, that the beloved Son, the only Mediator should alone drink the bitter cup, and bear the anger of heaven against a guilty world. With this purpose he entered the garden to meet the ghostly foe, before he fought with the strong bulls of Bashan, which encompassed him about. In the unexampled conflict he wept, he prayed, he agonized, sweating great drops of blood falling to the ground. Suffice it to say, the powers of darkness fled, being unable to force the Lord of glory from the purposes of his love to fallen man. The clouds of darkness and horror passed away, leaving a smiling sun behind to diffuse peace, righteousness and joy in the church. What encouragement to hope that all other conflicts shall in like manner pass away, and give us the more speedy entrance to eternal joy.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Mark 14:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/mark-14.html. 1835.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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