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
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
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
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.