Mark 14
(Preparation for the Sacrifice)
October 19th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

- Mark 14:24-25 (NIV)

Summary of Chapters

This chapter presents a complete cycle of events leading up to Jesus’ trial. First he was anointed by a woman (presumed to have been Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus) while dining at the home of a leper – an act that led to grumbling and discontent among some of the other guests, and was the tipping point for betrayal by a Disciple:

    “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

    Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

    - Mark 14:6-11 (NIV)

Subsequently, Jesus celebrated a final Passover Meal with his disciples, including Judas, the traitor. Jesus quoted from Psalm 41:9 when he acknowledged that the betrayer was breaking bread with them: “While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, ‘Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me (Mark 14:18 - NIV).’ ”

After dinner and the related ceremonies Jesus and his disciples retired to the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus surrounded himself with two circles of disciples as he prayed, but the betrayer breached the circle of trust and arrived to identify Jesus at the garden. Jesus was arrested and brought to trial before the Sanhedrin. Meanwhile, Peter, who was supposed to be the rock, disowned Jesus three times – the last time in a vehement way:

    He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”

    - Mark 14:71 (NIV)

Reflection and Application

After several years of successful ministry the end seemed to sneak up on the Disciples very suddenly - regardless of the fact that Jesus had been giving them clues all along the way. By contrast, how did the woman who anointed Jesus know that he was about to meet his death? Maybe she had ears to truly understand what he had been saying - understanding even more clearly than the disciples who were his closest companions. Or maybe God nudged her to do this and she obeyed without fully understanding the meaning.

In either case, she listened to what she understood in her heart, even if it did not seem to make any sense. Mark observed that some of the people present were upset at this “waste” of valuable perfume, but Jesus corrected them. This was the last act of service for Jesus before his death.

One of his own disciples betrayed him, the rest scattered when he was arrested, no one stood up for him at this trial, and Peter denied him. When we compare this woman’s adoration of Jesus to the mocking treatment at the trial we see a stark contrast and have a greater appreciation for what she did.

Which role do we want to play? The adoring woman, the betrayer, the scared sheep, the denier, or the mockers? Perhaps we have taken on many of these roles over time, but the good news is that Jesus was preparing to die for all of us, regardless of which role we have played. Can we believe that?

It is worth noting that the Passover meal shared by Jesus and other Jewish people is a celebration of the escape from the slavery of the Egyptians. Millions of people had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the event. Each family sacrificed a lamb at the Temple and then roasted the lamb as part of the ceremonial meal. The lamb was reminiscent of the blood of the lamb that was brushed onto the doorways of the Jewish homes in Egypt, protecting them from the Angel of Death on that first night of Pass-Over. In the context of this Passover meal, now known as the Last Supper, Jesus represented the lamb who would allow his own blood to be shed as he sacrificed himself the next day, thus freeing all the people from the slavery of sin.

Consider for a moment the scene in the garden. Friends who have visited Israel have told us they visited the garden and were told that “There are trees there that are old enough to have been there during Jesus' time. We learned that the garden would have been full of people "camping out" because they were in Jerusalem for Passover, so it would not have been a quiet, isolated place!"

Regardless of the noise around him, Jesus took time to pray to the Father, and accepted his father’s will, even knowing the pain that he would endure. Jesus was ready to become that lamb so that our sins would be forgiven. Let us give praise and thanks to him today.

There are many famous depictions of the Last Supper, such as the paintings by DaVinci and other artists. All of the well-known paintings assume that Jesus and his disciples sat around a table, which probably was not the case. The traditional arrangement was for the host and guests to recline on the floor or on pillows. This was most likely the scenario for the Last Supper and the scene at the beginning of chapter 14, when a woman poured perfume on Jesus while sitting at a meal. Nevertheless, the images from the masters of art help us to imagine what it would have been like to be present at the First Communion. You can see images of some of these paintings and read brief interpretations by clicking on the link below, which will take you to a page on the Art and the Bible website:

Art and the Bible: "The Last Supper"

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What is one of your favorite gardens that you have visited or maintained?
    2. Imagine yourself as one of the disciples who ran away from the Garden of Gethsemane in fear after the arrest of Jesus. Where would you run to? What would be your next step?
    3. Jesus forgave those who deserted him in the garden. What have you done that you would like to ask forgiveness for? Jesus understands your pain and fear and awaits you with open arms.

    Recommended Prayer
    Father, we know you send us messages by many means: Messengers, gentle nudges, shouts, and by your actions. Help us to hear, understand, and remain loyal, regardless of the cost.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    People of Israel

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Mark 15-16 (Resurrection of the One Who Came to Heal)

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