Study Guide

Gospel of Mark Chapter 14

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Chapter 14

Betrayal, Agony, and Abandonment

  • It's two days before the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread, and the chief priests and scribes are making plans to trap Jesus by deceit and kill him. But they'll do it before the festivities, because they don't want to provoke the large crowd.
  • During dinner in the suburbs, a woman anoints Jesus's head with very expensive ointment.
  • What a waste. Several people are upset because this is the good stuff, not your everyday Axe. Besides, impoverished people could use this money.
  • Jesus defends the woman, who did something nice for him. Their time with Jesus is limited, but they'll always have poor people to care for.
  • Jesus then puts an interesting (prophetic) spin on her action. She's anointed his body for burial. People are going to remember this for a long time.
  • And guess what? We're still reading about her.
  • Meanwhile, Judas sneaks off and agrees to betray Jesus to the chief priests, who promise him money. Judas awaits an opportunity, and we readers are left in suspense.
  • The first day of the holiday arrives, and the disciples ask Jesus where he prefers to celebrate.
  • Jesus gives two disciples very specific instructions to enter Jerusalem and follow a man carrying water. Wherever he stops, they are supposed to ask the householder if they can eat the Passover meal there. He will show them the right room.
  • Voilà! It happens just as Jesus said. We've seen something like this before (recall 11:1-6).
  • During the meal, Jesus foretells that one of the twelve who are eating with him will rat him out. Hmmm.
  • This upsets his disciples, each of whom swears they would never do that.
  • Jesus insists, reiterating that his prophecy matches up with scripture.
  • Even so, his betrayer will be badly punished, and the turncoat will wish he were never born.
  • Then Jesus takes some bread, gives thanks, distributes it, and informs them that they're eating his body. Huh?
  • He does something similar with the wine, but tells them they're drinking his blood, which he will spill for many so as to cut a new deal.
  • This is the last wine Jesus will drink until he drinks again in God's kingdom. Yikes.
  • They sing some songs together and proceed to the Mount of Olives, where Jesus delivers more bad news to the disciples: they will all scatter like sheep whose shepherd is killed (he's quoting Zechariah 13:7).
  • The good news is that Jesus will arrive in Galilee before them. This all hints of the resurrection and the disciples' eventual restoration.
  • Peter insists that he sure isn't going to do that.
  • Actually, Jesus informs Peter, he'll do something worse, when he denies Jesus three times before the cock crows twice. Translation: Peter is going to deny Jesus.
  • More adamantly, Peter pledges to die with Jesus, and the other disciples follow his lead. Too bad we all know Jesus is pretty darn accurate as far as the future is concerned (remember 11:1-6 and 14:13-16).
  • They all come to Gethsemane, where Jesus instructs his disciples to pray.
  • Jesus goes off with Peter, James, and John. He's upset and tells them that his grief is deadly (alluding to the language of Psalms 42 and 43, which are powerful prayers of lamentation).
  • Removing himself for some solitude, Jesus prays that the hour pass from him if at all possible. But ultimately Jesus wants what God wants.
  • Jesus returns to the three disciples, who are sleeping, and rebukes Peter for not even staying awake one hour. They may be eager beavers, but they're going to need a lot more follow-through than that (remember 13:33-37).
  • Jesus prays and returns to find them asleep, two more times.
  • Time's up.
  • Judas arrives on the scene with an armed group sent by the chief priests, scribes, and elders.
  • Judas had told them to arrest the guy he kisses.
  • Pretending all's normal, Judas addresses Jesus as "Rabbi" (14:45) and greets him with a kiss.
  • The armed guard arrests Jesus, and a bystander strikes the high priest's servant with his sword, lopping off his ear.
  • Jesus puts this event in perspective. The sole reason why they arrested him on the sly and armed to their teeth with swords and clubs rather than while he was teaching in the temple is that scripture foretold that it would happen this way.
  • Everyone abandons Jesus, as he had predicted (recall 14:27).
  • When the guards seize one young follower, he strips off his clothes and escapes in the nude. (That seems random….)
  • They take Jesus to the chief priest, and all of Jerusalem's top dogs gather for his trial.
  • Peter does follow, but from a distance, and warms himself by a fire in the chief priest's courtyard. So much for dying with Jesus (glance back at 14:31).
  • The chief priests want to execute Jesus, but their only witnesses offer contradictory stories and downright lies.
  • They report to have heard Jesus saying he will destroy the temple and build another one. Nowhere in Mark does Jesus say this. But will it be true in a way the accusers don't intend?
  • The chief priest questions Jesus himself. Doesn't he have anything to say in his defense against these accusations?
  • Jesus is silent, and the chief priest asks point blank, "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?" (14:61).
  • Jesus responds in the affirmative and then adds that he will return in the clouds (similarly, 13:26). They better watch out.
  • The chief priest tears his clothes, declares no need for witnesses, and accuses him of blasphemy.
  • They condemn Jesus to death.
  • Some start to hock loogies at him, strike him while he is blindfolded, and challenge him to prophecy who did it.
  • Do you smell the sweet aroma of irony? All this fulfills Jesus's prophecy in 10:34, so the joke's on those mocking his prophetic abilities.
  • Meanwhile, a servant of the chief priest recognizes that Peter, who is still warming himself by the fire, is a companion of Jesus.
  • Peter denies it, ducks out of the courtyard, and a cock crows.
  • The servant continues to hound him, this time with bystanders overhearing, and Peter denies it again. (That's two, for anyone who's counting.)
  • A short time passes, and other bystanders start to pipe in. Peter is Galilean, after all. This time Peter swears by oath that he absolutely does not know this Jesus guy they keep mentioning. (And that's three.)
  • The cock crows a second time.
  • Peter realizes Jesus's prophecy in 14:30 has come true.
  • Peter weeps violently. 
  • If we assume that the Gospel of Mark originally ended at 16:8, then this is the last image the narrator leaves us of the twelve disciples, who are utterly defeated. Want to know more about the ending? Check out "What's up with the ending?"

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