Studying the Gospels Together: Mark Fourteen

As part of the ReMarkAble series at First Baptist Church, I will be releasing weekly posts with my notes for those who are using the Studying the Gospels Together (STGT) method in their Adult Community Group. You can read more about the STGT Method here and how this site is integrating the ReMarkAble series here.

Introductory Comments

Mark's Fourteenth chapter is lengthy. It records multiple important events that occur on the last day leading up to the crucifixion. Jesus being anointed in preparation for his eventual death, the institution of the Lord's Supper during the Passover meal, praying in Gethsemane, the betrayal of Jesus, Jesus before the Sanhedrins and Peter denying Jesus three times.

Throughout the chapter, there are numerous things that can be discussed and reflected upon. The example of Jesus' faithfulness to God in the garden, even though he was "very sorrowful" at the prospect of what was to come, is something to note. Then to contrast it with the betrayal of Judas and the denial of Peter. Jesus remained faithful, even when his followers did not. Further, Jesus has just exhorted his disciples to figuratively "stay awake" in the previous chapter, and in this chapter they are not able to physically stay awake while Jesus prayed in anguish over the mission he had been given. Praise God that Jesus was faithful, and that his faithfulness covers our own tendency toward a lack of faithfulness. We have a great savior, and this chapter highlights how truly glorious is Jesus.

Things to Note

In the STGT Method, we begin by noting five different activities of Jesus.

(P) Prayer

Praying in the Garden of Gethsemane (14:32-42): Jesus takes his disciples with him to pray on the eve of his crucifixion. The Passover meal has been eaten and the Lord's Supper has been instituted. Jesus tells his disciples that his "soul is very sorrowful, even to death (14:34)." In anticipation of what was to come, Jesus was feeling the weight of his future suffering. Jesus goes to the Father in prayer. He prays that God would "remove this cup from me." Jesus pleads with the Father that if there is any other way, he would be spared from taking the path of the cross, bearing the weight of the world's sin. He continues, "Yet not what I will, but what you will." Ultimately, Jesus is obedient. He desire is for the Father's will to be done.

It is worth noting that this is an example of someone making a specific request of God in prayer that is not answered in the fashion of the request. And we know that the reason is not because the requester had any fault of their own or lack of faithfulness. Jesus makes his request. God hears his request. More than his own request, Jesus wants God's will to be fulfilled, and so he moves forward with the mission at hand. This is a great pattern for us in prayer. Make our requests known to God, being confident that God hears. In the end, we pursue God's will regardless if our prayer is answered in the exact way we requested. We need not conclude that if our prayers are not answered in the way we asked, that the reason must be the result of our own sin or lack of faithfulness. I supposed it might be for that reason, there is Biblical warrant for that, but it isn't always for that reason. But that discussion is for another post and another passage of Scripture.

(W) Reads or references God’s Word

Jesus uses the words of a Psalm (14:34) - When Jesus is talking to this disciples, he uses a phrase reminiscent of Psalm 42:5 - "My soul is cast down within me." In this Psalm, the author is instructing his own soul to hope in God, even though it is in turmoil. We may not know if Jesus used this phrase in order to quote Psalm 42, although we can certainly suggest that is is possible. Sometimes when we are in a moment of crisis, the only words we can speak are the words of God back to Him. It reminds me of why it is important to store up God's Word's within me, so that His Words come to me like breath to a baby. Without thinking, without needing to rack my brain, it is an impulse to recite God's words like a subconscious action of the body trying to remain alive.

(F) Relates to God the Father

Jesus prays to the Father (14:36): Again, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prays specifically to the Father. Here, I want to highlight the intimate nature of Jesus' relationship with the Father. He prays, " Abba, Father..." You have possibly heard this before, but Abba was a title of intimacy between a child and their father. Like our contemporary use of the word "daddy" or "papa." Jesus prays to God as one who has a deep, abiding and loving relationship with his Father. We are called to a similar relationship as adopted children of God. We can pray to God, "Abba, Father..." Especially when our souls are in deep need and anguish, as Jesus' was in this passage. We should all pursue a relationship with God that is this intimate.

(HS) Relates to the Holy Spirit

There is no specific reference to Jesus relating to The Holy Spirit in this chapter.

(R) Overflows in loving relationship with people

This will be the most common category we see. Jesus is constantly interacting with people through his teaching, preaching, healing, casting out demons, or discipleship. I will not list all possible ways that this is seen in this chapter, but only mention a few.

Jesus honors the woman at Bethany (14:3-9). As Jesus was reclining at the table of Simon the leper, a woman comes with an alabaster flask of ointment and anointed Jesus' feet. There is a lot that could be said about this passage, including the fact that it is sandwiched between the Jewish leaders plotting Jesus' death (14:1-2) and the comments about Judas seeking an opportunity to betray Jesus (14:10-11). The thing I want to point out is that Jesus honors this woman's actions as one who is preparing Jesus for his approaching death and burial. Mary was not a perfect woman, but she loved Jesus and sought to honor him out of an overflow of her commitment to him. Jesus celebrates this desire, and this action has been "told in memory of her" for centuries as we read the Gospels. When we respond to Jesus as an overflow of our love for him, we also, like Mary, do a beautiful thing.

Institution of the Lord's Supper (14:22-25): As Jesus is celebrating the Passover meal with his disciples, he extends the significance of the meal beyond just celebrating the exodus of God's people from Egypt. Jesus lovingly provides another way for his followers to remember and celebrate what Jesus was about to do on the cross. This ordinance given by Jesus to the Church to celebrate and remember his death, burial and resurrection was a loving and gracious action. When we come together and celebrate the Lord's Supper, we have a unique opportunity to consider Jesus and remind ourselves of what he has done for us and what it means for us to follow him. We must not pass over this celebration flippantly, as some are accustomed to doing, but take the time to genuinely consider Jesus.

Questions for Reflection

What does this passage tell us about who Jesus is?

Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Blessed (14:61-62): As Jesus was being questioned by the Jewish leaders, they cannot find anything against him. They even have people bearing false witness, but they cannot get the false testimonies to agree. Finally Caiaphas, the high priest, just asks Jesus point blank, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?" Jesus answers, "I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven." There are other places where Jesus makes it clear that he is the Christ, but none in such a public place or with so much riding upon his proclamation. This statement was the final impetus for his crucifixion. He proclaims it proudly, knowing it would result in great suffering and ultimately his death.

What does this passage tell us about why Jesus came?

As Jesus is praying in the garden, he is pleading with God to alter his path. Jesus came to suffer under the weight of the world's sins, die, and three days later, rise again. Jesus' prayer to the Father makes it clear that this mission was not to be diverted. Jesus came, so he could go to the cross. And Jesus obediently fulfills this calling.

What does it say about what it means to follow Jesus?

Ask God for strength: When the disciples were with Jesus in Gethsemane , they fell asleep multiple times. At one point, Jesus says, "the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." I understand this to mean that while we might have the motivation or desire to do something for God, our flesh is a hindrance and is weak. Jesus seems to be acknowledging the disciples' humanity, but still calling them to something more. As a follower of Jesus, I recognize that I am weak and incomplete. While I may desire to do many things that would honor God, I find myself often doing the opposite. Paul describes this battle well in Romans 7:13-25. He ends his reflection with the words, "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!." Paul is concerned with his own weak flesh, but he celebrates that God has sent Jesus to deliver us from our weakness. Paul was well acquainted with this dynamic and writes elsewhere that the Lord spoke these words to him, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Paul goes on to say, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, "I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak. then I am strong (2 Cor. 12:9-10 ESV)."

We will also face these times, when we are acutely aware of our own weakness. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. We have the desire, but we do not follow-through. In response, we must allow ourselves the opportunity to see our own weakness, to recognize our need for Jesus and celebrate that Jesus came to cover that weakness. Then in response to his goodness, lets pursue those good things, but only after we see our need for Jesus to be our strength..

Questions for Application

In response to what you have read, what is one action step you believe God is calling you to make this week?

This particular chapter lends itself to numerous practical applications. There is much to be learned about what it means to follow Jesus. Here are a couple suggestions:

(1) Consider Jesus this week. Do something that will help you to think about Jesus in a fresh way this week. Ask yourself what you believe will raise your affections for Jesus, and then do it.

(2) Like every chapter, there are a variety of applications that could be made. I would love to invite you to make comments regarding applications that you see for your own life. Please share with one another in the comments section below, and encourage one another as we seek to apply God's Word to our lives.

What is one thing you learned this week you could share with someone else? Who do you plan to share it with?

This question is meant to simply help us learn how to share what we are learning from Jesus. We see in this chapter that Jesus wants his message to spread. When we follow him, we become conduit of that message. We do not need to feel the burden of sharing everything we know about Jesus in every conversation we have, but it can be more natural to share something we are learning. What is something you learned that you could share with someone else? Think about who you might want to share it with.