Final Hours Together

Mark briefly describes the time Jesus spent with the disciples after their last meal together, quite a contrast with the several chapters John gave to the  “Farewell Discourse.” Mark breaks this into three short scenes:

Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial

Mark 14:27-31

Parallel Texts: Matthew 26:31-35; Luke 22:31-38; John 13:21-38

Peter’s determination to remain loyal to Jesus is admirable, but sadly, it was not to be… at least not yet. Jesus knew that, but He also knew that Peter would fail, and along with the rest of them he would cut and run when things got too tough. He cited the prophecy from Zech. 13:7, and if your mind works as mine does, this citation begs an oddball question: Did Peter fail because of the prophecy, or was the prophecy made in the first place because God knew Peter  (and the others) would fail?  I struggled with this for a long time before I stumbled across the obvious and simple answer to the riddle. Peter and the others fell short because they were relying on their own strength and will not to fall short, therefore they fell short because their reliance was ill placed. Later, as Apostles, none of them fell short when the going was tough, really tough, for their reliance was upon God and they were sustained by His strength and not merely by their own.

Praying in the Garden

Mark 14:32-42

Parallel Texts:  Matthew 26:36-46; Luke 22:39-46; John 18:1

The scene in the Garden of Gethsemane is a poignant one, where Jesus prays fervently, filled with angst that the cup should pass from Him if possible, yet the Father’s will and not his own should be done. Clearly, His human side wanted to find a way out of what He was about to endure, and yet His love for the Father and for humanity was stronger; His devotion to God’s eternal purpose won out. Yet while this gut-wrenching scene is playing out, the disciples fall asleep!

I seriously doubt they fell asleep on purpose, but here too, they relied on their own strength and not upon God as they would later. The outcome of this ill-placed confidence is always the same, and we should really remember that.

Jesus is Arrested

Mark 14:43-52

Parallel Texts: Matthew 26:47-56; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:2-11

On come the goons from the temple guards, with Judas in the vanguard. Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss.

Of course we know this as one of history’s great ironies; Jesus commented on it in the other accounts. I get the same chill seeing people today who loudly profess their love and devotion for Jesus, and then watch them do everything in their power to run people away from His church. … but then that’s just me.  Did Judas really think he was doing Jesus a favor, forcing His hand so that He would raise an army and take the city by force as some have suggested over the years?

I have no idea what Judas was really thinking; maybe he just needed the money, or maybe he was under demonic influence, or maybe he was the only who understood fully what Jesus was there to do and wanted to help out… I can’t imagine! What I do know is that the stage was now set for the pivotal drama of all recorded history.

Of course, the disciples fled, and it would appear that there were more present than just the disciples, for in the final verse we see a young man, little more than a boy, who is swept up in the confusion, and who escapes the guards by slipping out of his garment and running off into the darkness naked: Meet our author everyone, for this was none other than Mark himself.

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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10 Responses to Final Hours Together

  1. paulfg says:

    Don, your piece today has thoughts racing around and around. And that doesn’t happen often! 🙂

    Boy oh boy, your short piece has set off a box of fireworks here. And I am letting the display run its course (and trying to figure our whether to bomb your piece here – or move it to a blog). Politeness and not bombing will probably win. Not sure why this has sparked!! Just loving the connections and connections and connections!! Thank you!!

  2. Pingback: How does that make me real? Part I | Just me being curious

  3. Don, great piece! I never realized the young boy that ran away was Mark. How did I miss this, and where is your source? I’d love to know? What a gem this was!

    I often find when I become frustrated or blocked, I need to stop whatever I’m doing because I’m usually “trying” to do it on my own power. When I get back “in sync” with the Holy Spirit, things seem to align themselves, confusion goes away and fruit is quite miraculously produced. So much easier to stay yoked to Him.

    • Don Merritt says:

      To be entirely honest, it is a supposition of most scholars over the centuries. We know that Mark was a youth during this time who lived with his mother in Jerusalem, and we can easily see that the incident has no real place in the story he is telling here; it’s almost random. Yet it contains a level of detail that no one else would have been likely to know. That this youth was wearing a linen wrapper, for instance, that he had been caught up in the confusion of that instant and how he escaped… and more importantly it places Mark at the scene making the garden narrative an eyewitness account, which gives a motive for relating an otherwise embarrassing incident. My guess is that Mark was an eyewitness to other scenes, but he chose not to place himself in the narrative.

  4. I’ve often wondered why in John’s beautiful farewell chapters he didn’t include Jesus’ great angst in the garden. He surely would have seen the prayer and the drops of blood, especially since he was in the inner circle of the disciples. Do you think he felt it too personal, too vulnerable to show Jesus in this time of great pain? Or maybe his own pain of falling asleep in this moment hurt so much he couldn’t write about it. Any thoughts? John is usually so much more emotive.

    • Don Merritt says:

      Funny you should bring this up today… John is by far my personal favorite gospel and NT author. It strikes me that both in his letters and his gospel, not to mention Revelation, he makes a point of mentioning that he is an eye witness. My thought is that if he was sleeping, he didn’t witness those difficult prayers, so he didn’t testify… just a theory of course 🙂

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