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Bible Commentaries

Contending for the Faith

Mark 14


This chapter begins the great Passion narrative. Mark devotes so much more space to the Passion than to any other subject that some critics have called Mark’s gospel just "a Passion narrative with a lengthy introduction." This, the longest chapter in Mark, includes a plot by the chief priests and scribes to kill Jesus (1-2); the anointing at Bethany (3-9); Judas’ bargain with the chief priest (10-11); the Passover (12-21); the institution of the Lord’s Supper (22-26); the plight of the disciples (27-31); agony in Gethsemane (32-42); the betrayal and arrest of Jesus (43-52); the trial before the Sanhedrin (53-65); and Peter’s denial of Jesus (66-72).

Verse 1

After two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death.

After two days: When Mark and the other gospel writers begin the Passion narrative, all make more references to specific times and to the sequence of events than they do in other sections of their writings. All four of the gospels are in agreement as far as the main facts are concerned, but there are some apparent inconsistencies as to the order of the facts and the time at which they occur. In this regard, John’s account of the Passion narrative seems to be inconsistent with the other three. These apparent inconsistencies can be explained and will be dealt with as they arise. The expression "After two days" is imprecise since it is not clear how Mark reckons days (see comments on 9:2 for the two common methods of reckoning time in that era). Robertson says, "This was Tuesday evening as we count time (beginning of the Jewish Wednesday)" (Word Pictures in the New Testament 379).

was the feast of the passover: The word "passover" is translated from pascha, which means "a passing over." The paschal lamb was the lamb for sacrifice the Israelites were bidden to kill. They were to sprinkle the blood on the doorposts of their dwellings in Egypt so that the Lord could pass over their homes without entering and taking the life of the firstborn. The slain paschal lamb, therefore, was accepted in lieu of the life of the firstborn child. Subsequent to the original Passover, which made possible the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, the Passover feast was to be permanently observed by Israel in the first month (Nisan) of each year. On the tenth of Nisan, the paschal lamb was selected. At sundown on the fourteenth, the lamb was killed by the head of the house, and its blood was sprinkled on the entrance to the tent during Israel’s nomadic days. After they settled in Canaan, the blood was sprinkled on the doorposts and lintel of the house. The lamb was roasted and eaten by the family during the night of the fourteenth-fifteenth (Exodus 12:1-14). Kittel adds:

After the cultic reforms of Josiah (621 B.C.) the killing and eating of the Passover took place in Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 16:5-7; 2 Kings 23:21-23; 2 Chronicles 31:1). The blood was now sprinkled, not on the entrance to the house, but on the altar of burnt offering, (2 Chronicles 35:11). The removal of the feast to Jerusalem, which took place only gradually, resulted in the feast becoming a pilgrimage (5:898).

and unleavened bread: The Old Testament distinguishes between the Passover, which was observed the night of the Nisan fourteenth-fifteenth, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which lasted from the fifteenth to the twenty-first of Nisan, during the barley harvest (Exodus 12:15-20; Exodus 23:15; Leviticus 23:5-6; Numbers 28:16-17; 2 Chronicles 30:15; 2 Chronicles 30:21; etc.). In later Judaism, it became popular to treat them as one festival and refer to them both as the "Passover" or "the Feast of Unleavened Bread." Josephus makes use of this popular reference (62, 290), although he points out that he knows they are distinct (79, 211).

and the chief priests and the scribes: Matthew adds "elders" (26:3). These three groups represent each order that makes up the Sanhedrin (see comments on 11:27). Matthew adds that the conspirators gather in the house of Caiaphas, the high priest. Caiaphas is the son-in-law of Annas, his predecessor as high priest (John 18:13). John points out that immediately after Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, Caiaphas begins a plot to kill Jesus (11:47-53), so this conspiracy is nothing new.

sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death: The word "craft" is dolo and means "A bait or contrivance for entrapping; fraud, deceit, insidious artifice, guile" (Analytical Greek Lexicon 105). Caiaphas and his cohorts are all in agreement as to what they want to do to Jesus--they just are perplexed as to how to go about it. They passionately want to kill Jesus, but they need to figure out a way to do it without causing themselves more trouble. They fear if they try to take Him openly, the people may react violently against them. They desperately need a scheme.

Verse 2

But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people.

During the major annual festivals, the population of Jerusalem more than triples. Some authorities estimate as many as two million people assemble in and around the city, resulting in an atmosphere of noise and confusion. Such times are a nightmare for the Roman occupational soldiers. There is always the possibility that some Jewish zealot might get caught up in the spirit of the occasion and try to assassinate a Roman official, and there is always potential for disputes among the different factions of the Jews. It is an explosive-type situation that could quickly and easily degenerate into mob violence. At this point, Jesus is very popular with many of the pilgrims in Jerusalem, and any effort by the Sanhedrin to arrest Him and hand Him over to Rome could result in a violent reaction from the people. Consequently, the conspirators decide not to try to take Jesus during the Passover. They would have to act immediately--within two days--or wait about ten days until the feast would be over, and the pilgrims would leave Jerusalem for home. Their minds change, however, when Judas suddenly betrays Jesus into their hands during the week of the feast.

Verse 3

And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.

And being in Bethany: This narrative (3-9) is not in chronological order. John 12:1 clearly puts this event six days before the Passover, probably occurring on Saturday before Jesus makes His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Apparently, during His visits to Jerusalem, Jesus often stays in Bethany. During His last week in Jerusalem, Jesus retires from the city each night to the Mount of Olives or Bethany.

in the house of Simon the leper: Nothing more is known of Simon. He obviously is not a leper at this time because guests would not gather at his house for a feast. It is probable Jesus has healed him of his leprosy, and Simon provides the meal as a means of showing his appreciation.

as he sat at meat: The word "sat" is katakeimenou and is better translated "as he was reclining" (Marshall 201). It is customary to recline at the table.

there came a woman: John tells us that the woman is Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus (12:3).

having an alabaster box of ointment: Alabaster is a whitish, fine-grained variety of gypsum, used for statues, vases, etc. (Webster 30). The expression "alabaster box" is from alabastron, referring to "a vase to hold perfumed ointment, properly made of alabaster, but also of other materials" (Analytical Greek Lexicon 14). Just as a drinking vessel made of glass is popularly referred to as a "glass," vases or flasks made of alabaster are referred to as "alabasters." "Pliny compares these vessels to a closed rosebud, and says that ointments are best preserved in them" (Vincent 78).

of spikenard very precious: The words "of spikenard" are from nardou pistikes and are usually translated "of pure nard" (Marshall 201). Nard is a very costly, aromatic ointment extracted from a plant found mainly in India.

and she brake the box, and poured it on his head: The long neck of the flask or vase has to be broken to release the ointment. While dining, Jesus is reclining on His side, probably on a couch, supporting Himself with an elbow. Mary approaches Jesus from behind with the alabaster container, breaks the seal, and begins to anoint the head of Jesus. John adds that she also anoints Jesus’ feet and wipes them with her hair (12:3). Lane says:

...anointing was a common custom at feasts (cf. Psalms 23:5; Psalms 141:5; Luke 7:46), but in this context it is clear that the woman’s action expressed pure devotion to Jesus and undoubtedly thanksgiving (493).

Mary is thankful Jesus has just raised her beloved brother, Lazarus, from the dead.

Verse 4

And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made?

And there were some that had indignation within themselves: John’s account (12:4-6) tells us it is Judas, with support from others among the disciples (Matthew 26:8), who angrily criticizes Mary.

and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made: The word "waste" is from apoleia. Ironically, the same word is translated "perdition" in John 17:12 and is applied to Judas. Judas accuses Mary of wasting money, but he wastes his entire life.

Verse 5

For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her.

For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor: Judas explains why he so strongly disapproves of Mary’s behavior. He immediately estimates the value of the ointment to be three hundred pence (denarii), which is the equivalent of a year’s wages for the average working man. The ointment could have been sold for enough money to feed three hundred poor families for one day. John, though, reveals that Judas’ true motive is covetousness (12:4-6). Judas is not actually concerned about waste, extravagance, or the plight of the poor. Judas is the "keeper of the bag" (treasurer) for the disciples, and he sees a lost opportunity to place a large amount of money into the bag from which he could embezzle.

And they murmured against her: The words "murmured against" are from enebrimonto and mean "they growled at her; rebuked her vehemently" (Bickersteth 230).

Verse 6

And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me.

As the disciples are chastising Mary, Jesus responds pointedly to Judas and the other disciples with the words "Let her alone!" "Why are you causing trouble for her?" He further tells the disciples that Mary’s gesture is a beautiful thing. The word "good" is kalos and means "goodness on the outside as it strikes the eye, a beautiful, pleasing goodness" (Wuest 256-257).

Verse 7

For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.

There is no intention on Jesus’ part to distinguish between services rendered to Him in person and those rendered to "the least of these my brethren" for His sake. These two are equivalents in Jesus’ estimate (Matthew 25:40; Matthew 25:45). Nor is Jesus implying that He is unconcerned about the poor (Mark 10:21; Luke 14:13; Luke 14:21; Luke 16:20; John 13:29). There would be many other opportunities to tend to the poor, but opportunities to show kindness and honor to Jesus are quickly coming to an end.

Verse 8

She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.

She hath done what she could: In other words, Mary is doing what she can. She shows Jesus her loving graditude with the only available means she has.

she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying: Matthew’s account says, "For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial" (26:12). It is doubtful that Mary knows of the imminence of Jesus’ death, but Jesus accepts her gesture of love and gratitude as a valid anointing of His body for burial. Swete informs us that fragrant ointments are used for anointing the dead body after it has been washed but says this process is to be distinguished from embalming (325). John 19:39 points out that embalming consists of placing myrrh and aloes in the folds of the grave clothes. Later, Mark mentions that the women come to anoint the body of Jesus after the crucifixion, but He has already arisen from the grave. Thus, Mary alone has the honor of anointing Jesus’ body.

Verse 9

Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.

Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world: When Jesus makes this prediction, none of the accounts of the gospel have been written; and the gospel (Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection) has not yet been proclaimed. But Jesus looks beyond the humiliation of His own death (verse 8) and authoritatively predicts a time when the gospel will be hearlded throughout the whole world.

this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her: Wherever the gospel is preached, Mary’s profound expression of love for the Master will be remembered. The fact that this story is now recorded in three of the four written accounts of the gospel is a fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy.

Verse 10

And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray him unto them.

Matthew adds this question asked by Judas, "...And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver" (26:15). Judas has been a specially privileged person, chosen by Jesus as "one of the twelve." He has enjoyed an intimate association with Jesus for more than three years while witnessing Jesus’ powerful miracles, listening to His authoritative teaching, and observing His compassionate treatment of the sick, the afflicted, and the poor. Judas has witnessed Jesus’ casting out demons and has heard His stunning, irrefutable answers to the entrapping questions of His enemies. Judas has witnessed all of this and much more, yet he decides to betray Jesus into the hands of wicked, conspiring chief priests.

What causes Judas to betray Jesus? There are no specific details given in the text as to Judas’ motive; we can only speculate. Jesus has promised His disciples unspeakable rewards, including a kingdom with thrones (Matthew 19:28). Judas’ attention is surely riveted to such promises. But his expectations of great riches in Christ’s kingdom are confused by Jesus’ recent teachings that the rich are unlikely to enter into the kingdom and that the greatest in the kingdom would be servants. Judas is also bitter because he has missed out on the money that the precious ointment could have provided and because Jesus severely rebukes him for his criticism of Mary. Further, at the supper in Simon’s house, Jesus again implies that His own death is imminent. It is entirely possible that Judas, embittered by recent events, could see that he has mistaken expectations of riches in Christ’s kingdom and that to remain with Jesus--who is soon to die--would mean he would end up totally empty-handed. It is also possible Judas knows of an official notice circulating in Jerusalem ("Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should shew it, that they might take him" John 11:57). To salvage what he could, Judas decides to betray Jesus for money.

Verse 11

And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray him.

And when they heard it, they were glad: The chief priests and captains welcome this initiative by Judas. Verses 1-2 mention how they plot to arrest Jesus. Their dilemma is coming up with a stratagem for arresting Jesus without causing a riot. Now, unexpectedly, one of Jesus’ own intimate associates provides them the opportunity they seek.

and promised to give him money: Matthew informs us that the promise to give Judas money is fulfilled at that very meeting: "...And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver" (26:15). The word "covenanted" is estesan and means to "weigh out, pay" (Analytical Greek Lexicon 203). Vincent says of the price of thirty pieces of silver:

Matthew refers to Zechariah 11:12. This was the price which, by the Mosaic law, a man was condemned to pay if his ox should gore a servant (Exodus 21:32). Our Lord, the sacrifice for men, was paid for out of the temple-money, destined for the purchase of sacrifices. He who "took on him the form of a servant" was sold at the legal price of a slave (79).

And he sought how he might conveniently betray him: The word "sought" is in the imperfect tense and means Judas "kept seeking: busied himself continuously from that time" (Vincent 121). Until this time, it is the Sanhedrin who is continuously looking for an opportunity to take Jesus, but now they have a competent agent in Judas. Judas’ problem is to find an opportunity for the chief priests to arrest Jesus without causing a disturbance. As a member of Jesus’ inner circle of disciples, Judas is in a good position to find that opportunity and to ensure there would be no mistake in identity. Lane adds, "The need to employ an informer demonstrates how difficult it had become to locate Jesus and seize him in the period just before the Passover" (496).

Verse 12

And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover?

And the first day of unleavened bread: Since this day is the same day on which the paschal lamb was slain, it is the fourteenth day of Nisan. As mentioned earlier, the terms "Passover" and "Feast of Unleavened Bread" are sometimes used interchangeably. Athough, technically speaking, the first day of unleavened bread would refer to the fifteenth of Nisan--following the Passover of the previous evening--here the expression is used in its broadest sense and includes the actual Passover (the time when the paschal lamb was eaten).

It is at this point that John’s chronology of the Passover seems to conflict with that of Mark, Matthew, and Luke. The Synoptists all place the time of the Passover meal on Thursday evening, but John seems to be very precise in placing the meal on Friday evening (18:28). This apparent inconsistency respecting the specific time of the Passover meal has been the source of a well known controversy. Robertson correctly explains the dilemma in this way:

...the five passages in John (13:1f., 27; 18:28; 19:14, 31) rightly interpreted agree with the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 26:17; Matthew 26:20; Mark 14:12; Mark 14:17; Luke 22:7; Luke 22:14) that Jesus ate the passover meal at the regular time about 6:00 p.m. beginning of 15 Nisan. The passover lamb was slain on the afternoon of 14 Nisan and the meal eaten at sunset the beginning of 15 Nisan. According to this view Jesus ate the passover meal at the regular time and died on the cross the afternoon of 15 Nisan (Word Pictures in the New Testament 207).

To what does John refer then when he says:

Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover (18:28)?

The other three gospel authors say Jesus and His disciples have eaten the Passover meal on the previous night, but John indicates the Passover meal is yet to be eaten. Lane and Robertson explain it is probable that John is not referring to the paschal lamb here (which would have been eaten the evening before) but to the chagigah, the paschal sacrifices (lambs, kids, bulls) which are offered throughout the festival week. These paschal sacrifices are designated by the term pesach in Deuteronomy 16:2 and 2 Chronicles 35:5-7 (Lane 498; Robertson, A Harmony of the Gospels 279-284). If this logic is correct, then the apparent contradiction between John and the Synoptists is solved.

when they killed the passover: The word "killed" is translated from ethuon and means "sacrificed" (Marshall 202). The verb is in the imperfect tense and is better translated, "When it was customary to sacrifice the Passover." Here "the passover" (to pascha) specifically refers to the paschal lamb to be sacrificed.

his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover: Apparently the disciples realize it is their duty to prepare the Passover for their Master. Jesus and His disciples have made a lengthy trip to attend this feast, and now the time is at hand to make final preparations.

Certain elements of the original Egyptian Passover meal were not intended to be observed in future Passover feasts. Hence, Jewish writers greatly stressed the distinction between the "Egyptian Passover" and the "perpetual Passover." For example, in preparing for the Egyptian Passover, the lamb was to be selected on the tenth day of the month. After the first Passover, however, there is no record of that practice ever happening again. "In later times, we are certain that it was sometimes not provided before the 14th of the month (Luke 22:7-9; Mark 14:12-16)" (Smith, Dictionary of the Bible 2343). Other differences include the sprinkling of the blood on the lintels and doorposts of the Hebrews’ houses in Egypt while in later times the blood has to be sprinkled on the altar in the temple. In the first Passover, the meal was to be eaten in haste, but the meal in future feasts is to be lengthy. In the original feast, the Hebrews were confined to unleavened bread for only one day, but in later times they are confined to unleavened bread for a week.

Elias of Byzantium adds, that there was no command to burn the fat on the altar (in the Egyptian Passover), that the pure and impure all partook of the paschal meal contrary to the law afterwards given (Numbers 18:11), that both men and women were then required to partake, but subsequently the command was given only to men (Exodus 23:17; Deuteronomy 16:16), that neither the Hallel nor any other hymn was sung, as was required in later times in accordance with Isaiah 30:29, that there were no days of holy convocation, and that the lambs were not slain in the consecrated place (Smith, Dictionary of the Bible 2342).

There is also no drink element mentioned in the Egyptian Passover; but, according to the Mishna (Pes. x. 1), in later times the Passover includes four cups of wine (the word "wine" is commonly used in reference to both fermented and unfermented wine).

Barclay’s The Gospel of Mark, Edersheim’s The Temple, and Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible give the following information about the preparations the disciples make for the current Passover:

1. A ceremonial search for leaven. Every trace of leaven is removed from the house before the Passover. The first Passover in Egypt had been eaten with unleavened bread. The first Passover had to be eaten with haste, and unleavened bread was used because it could be baked more quickly than leavened bread. Leaven is also the symbol of corruption; therefore, it is removed during this holy feast. On the day before the Passover, the head of the house lights a candle and ceremonially searches the house for leaven.

2. The selection and the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb. The law allows the alternative of a "goat" (Exodus 12:5), but a lamb is preferred and usually chosen. The lamb is to be a male of the first year, being a reminder of the sacrifice for the firstborn child of each family in Egypt. The lamb is to be without blemish because Christ, the Lamb of God whom it typifies, is without sin. Then the lamb is to be taken to the court of the temple to be sacrificed (2 Chronicles 30:17).

The Mishna gives a particular account of the arrangement which was made in the court of the temple (Pesachim, v. 6-8). Those who were to kill the lamb entered successively in three divisions. When the first division had entered, the gates were closed and the trumpets were sounded three times. The priests stood in two rows, each row extending from the altar to the place where the people were assembled. The priests of one row held basins of silver, and those of the other basins of gold. Each Israelite then slew his lamb in order, and the priest who was nearest to him received the blood in his basin, which he handed to the next priest, who gave his empty basin in return. A succession of full basins was thus passed towards the altar, and a succession of empty ones towards the people. The priest who stood next to the altar threw the blood out towards the base in a single jet. When the first division had performed their work, the second came in, and then the third. The lambs were skinned, and the viscera taken out with the internal fat. The fat was carefully separated and collected in the large dish, and the viscera were washed and replaced in the body of the lamb, like those of the burnt sacrifices (Leviticus 1:9; Leviticus 3:3-5; comp. Pesachim, vi. 1). While this was going on the Hallel was sung, and repeated a second, or even a third time, if the process was not finished. As it grew dark, the people went home to roast their lambs. The fat was burned on the altar, with incense that same evening (Smith, Dictionary of the Bible 2343).

The lamb is then roasted over an open fire on a spit of pomegranate, which is thrust lengthwise through the lamb, from the mouth to the vent. The lamb is to be roasted entire with head, legs, and tail still attached to the body. Those specifications are imperative because, not only did the whole lamb typify the oneness of the Israelite nation, but it also typifies the body of Christ which is to be sacrificed on the cross, and His body is completely intact when He dies. David says, "He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken" (Psalms 34:20).

3. The disciples have to provide unleavened bread for the meal, to remind them of the unleavened bread their ancestors had to eat hastily as they fled Egyptian bondage.

4. The meal requires bitter herbs, which include endive, chicory, wild lettuce, and horehound. The bitter herbs remind the disciples of the bitterness of Egyptian slavery.

5. A sauce called Charoseth is also part of the meal. The mixture consists of vinegar, dates, figs, almonds, and spices. Some say it is beaten to simulate the consistency of mortar or clay to remind the Israelites of the slave labor in Egypt of brick laying.

6. There is a bowl of salt water, which reminds the Israelites of the tears their ancestors shed in Egypt and the waters of the Red Sea through which they have miraculously passed.

7. There are also the four cups of wine. There is no mention in the books of Moses of a drink element in connection with the Passover; but the Mishna:

...strictly enjoins that there should never be less than four cups of it (wine) provided at the paschal meal even of the poorest Israelite (Pes. x. 1). The cups were handed round in succession at specified intervals in the meal (Smith 2345).

Barclay says that the four cups were to remind them of the four promises in Exodus 6:6-7:

  • I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

  • I will rid you of their bondage.

  • I will redeem you with an outstretched arm.

  • I will take you to me for a people, and I will be your God (333-334).

To be in harmony with the unleavened bread, the wine should also be unfermented. Patton says:

In Exodus 12:8; Exodus 12:15; Exodus 12:17-20; Exodus 12:34; Exodus 12:39 and other places, all leaven is forbidden at that feast and for seven days. The prohibition against the presence and use of all fermented articles was under the penalty of being "cut off from Israel." "The law forbade seor--yeast, ferment, whatever could excite fermentation--and khahmatz, whatever had undergone fermentation or been subject to the action of seor" (Bible Commentary 250) (Patton 83).

These are the detailed and precise instructions the disciples know they must follow as they go into the city of Jerusalem and prepare for the Passover meal. And, too, they have but a short amount of time to complete these preparations since the Passover is fast approaching.

Verse 13

And he sendeth forth two of his disciples, and saith unto them, Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him.

And he sendeth forth two of his disciples: Luke 22:8 tells us the two disciples Jesus sends are Peter and John. This is not the first time these two men are specially selected by Jesus for an important task.

and saith unto them, Go ye into the city: The Passover has to be eaten within the city of Jerusalem. Jesus and His disciples are now in Bethany, about two miles to the east on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives.

and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: Although it would be perfectly normal to find a man carrying a wineskin, it is highly unusual to see a man in Jerusalem carrying a jug of water. Ordinarily, only women or girls carry water, so the disciples should have no difficulty in singling out this man.

follow him: This man, probably a servant, leads the disciples to the house where they make preparations for the Passover meal. Whether this--the fact that Jesus knows there would be a man carrying a pitcher of water--is the result of a previous arrangement made by Jesus or the result of His omniscience is not clear.

Verse 14

And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples?

And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the house: The "goodman" of the house is the "oikodespotes, the master of the house, the householder" (Wuest 258). The arrangements are not to be made with the servant. His duty would be completed when he leads the disciples to the house.

The Master saith: The word "Master" is from didaskalos and means "teacher or Rabbi" and implies the householder knows Jesus and accepts His reputation as a teacher.

Where is the guestchamber: This phrase is "pou estin to kataluma mou" and is literally translated, "Where is the guestchamber of me?" (Marshall 203). In other words, "Where is my guestchamber?" The language implies Jesus has either made previous arrangements with the householder or He has some kind of claim on the owner that would allow Him to make such a request.

where I shall eat the passover with my disciples: It is customary for families in Jerusalem to furnish pilgrims--free of charge--with rooms in which to eat the Passover. The householder probably observes the feast with his own family in their regular dining quarters, but the guestchamber is provided for Jesus and His disciples to observe the Passover.

Edersheim speculates the householder could have been John Mark’s father, who is still alive at this time (Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah 5:485). Acts 1:13; Acts 12:12 hint of the possibility of Edersheim’s theory, but it cannot be proved.

Verse 15

And he will show you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us.

And he will show you a large upper room: Barclay points out that the:

...larger Jewish houses had upper rooms. Such houses looked exactly like a smaller box placed on top of a bigger box. The smaller box was the upper room, and it was approached by an outside stair, making it unnecessary to go through the main room (331).

These upper rooms serve many purposes. They are used for storage, as guest rooms for visitors, and as places of quiet and meditation. It would be the perfect place for Jesus and the Twelve to celebrate His last Passover, for Jesus to institute the Lord’s Supper, and for Him to deliver His final words of comfort and reassurance to His disciples (John 14-16).

furnished and prepared: The word "furnished" is estromenen and means "to have the couches spread, to be prepared, furnished" (Analytical Greek Lexicon 378). The Amplified Bible says "furnished [that is with carpets and with dining couches properly spread]" (73).

there make ready for us: The disciples make certain that all the essential ingredients for the Passover meal are prepared. The paschal lamb has to be slain properly in the temple and then is to be returned home to be roasted. Unleavened bread, wine, bitter herbs, the charoseth paste, and salted water have to be secured and made ready. There is plenty of work these two competent disciples have to do.

Verse 16

And his disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover.

Peter and John do just as Jesus instructs them. They go into the city of Jerusalem, find everything just as the Lord has described it, and successfully prepare for the Passover.

Verse 17

And in the evening he cometh with the twelve.

As mentioned earlier, the Passover meal has to be eaten within the walls of Jerusalem; thus, Jesus returns to the city with His twelve disciples at evening. The regular time for observing the Passover meal is 6:00 p.m. until midnight. Because the Jews reckon time from sunset to sunset, the evening marked the beginning of the fifteenth of Nisan (evening of our Thursday, but the beginning of the Jewish Friday). Matthew’s parallel account also notes the time as evening and says it is the regular Passover meal (26:20).

Verse 18

And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with me shall betray me.

And as they sat and did eat: The expression "as they sat" is from anakeimenon auton and is properly translated "to lie, be in a recumbent posture, recline at table" (Analytical Greek Lexicon 22). Robertson adds:

It is a pity that these verbs are not translated properly in English. Even Leonardo da Vinci in his immortal painting of the Last Supper has Jesus and his apostles sitting, not reclining. Probably he took an artist’s license for effect (Word Pictures in the New Testament 382).

Edersheim gives a picturesque analysis of the places Jesus and the Twelve occupy around the table. He concludes the couches must have been arranged around a rectangular-shaped table in the form of an elongated horseshoe, leaving one end of the table free. He also gives strong evidence that John is positioned at Jesus’ right while Judas is positioned on Jesus’ left, which is actually the chief position at the table next to Jesus. Edersheim believes these three occupy one end of the horseshoe configuration while Peter reclines across from them at the other end (Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah 493-495).

Based on the events that take place--John’s reclining on Jesus’ bosom, Judas’ whispering to Jesus in such a way others cannot hear, etc.--Edersheim’s conclusions are certainly feasible. Another possibility, according to Jim Bishop, is that the table itself is in the shape of a large U, or horseshoe, and that Jesus is positioned in the middle of the curved part of the U, which is the host’s place. Bishop and Swete believe John is on Jesus’ right, but Peter is on Jesus’ left (Bishop 11; Swete 332).

Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with me shall betray me: According to John 13, several things have occurred before Jesus makes this prediction that one of His disciples is going to betray Him. Jesus has already taught His disciples lessons of humility and service by washing the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-20); hence, the meal has been in progress for some time. Jesus has already warned His disciples He will be delivered into the hands of His enemies (9:31: 10:33), but it is probable that none of the disciples (except Judas) suspects the betrayer to be one of themselves.

Verse 19

And they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto him one by one, Is it I? and another said, Is it I?

And they began to be sorrowful: Jesus’ shocking announcement immediately turns a festive occasion into a gloomy one. Eleven of the disciples are saddened, hurt, and filled with misgivings. Perhaps they quickly glance at one another with suspicion, but they are also suspicious of themselves.

and to say unto him one by one, Is it I? and another said, Is it I: All of the disciples except Judas are thinking to themselves, "Surely I could not possibly be the one mentioned by the Lord!" Yet, they are uncertain. So, one by one, the disciples ask, "Surely it is not I?" John 13:23-30 gives the most complete record of the questions of the disciples and Jesus’ response.

Verse 20

And he answered and said unto them, It is one of the twelve, that dippeth with me in the dish.

Jesus does not immediately allay the fears or the self-doubts of the disciples because His answer does not reveal the specific identity of His betrayer. This answer is given by Jesus to show the reprehensible nature of the crime that is being committed. The one who is betraying Jesus to His enemies is not only one of the Twelve, but also he is eating a meal with Jesus and dipping his morsel into the very same dish--a token of intimacy. In the Orient, to accept an invitation to a meal and then do injury to the host is considered a heinous crime. Only the basest of hearts could perform such duplicity. Later in the meal, Peter hints to John, who is "reclining on Jesus’ bosom," to ask Jesus specifically who the betrayer is. Jesus replies to John, "He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it" (John 13:26). Jesus then dips the sop (probably unleavened bread dipped into the charoseth sauce necessary to the Passover meal; see notes on verse 12) and hands it to Judas, which lets John know who the traitor is. This particular episode fulfills the Messianic prophecy in Psalms 41:9: "Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me."

Verse 21

The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born.

The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: The expression "goeth" refers to Jesus’ departure from this life, or His death (John 7:33; John 13:3; John 16:5; John 16:10; John 16:17). Jesus is going to depart this life and return to the Father, just as it has been prophesied of Him.

but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed: This woe is not a vindictive one, or of the nature of a curse, but as Swete says, " reveals a misery which Love itself could not prevent" (333). Compare to Mark 13:17. The word expresses a sorrow and a pity over a condition so awful.

good were it for that man if he had never been born: It is better never to have been born than to live and die in a lost condition. This statement is similar to Mark 9:42. Jesus clearly shows the fate of the wicked is something much worse than mere annihilation.

It is entirely possible that Jesus is making a last appeal to Judas. It is as though Jesus is saying, "Look, I know what you are doing. Think about the consequences of your planned actions, and stop while you still have the chance!" Jesus is not just concerned about stopping Judas and saving Himself. If He had wanted to do that, He would have just told the other eleven disciples that Judas is the traitor, and Judas would never have left the upper room alive. But Jesus is giving Judas an opportunity to save himself. Judas’ situation is illustrative of the whole human situation. God has given mankind free wills--the ability to make decisions between right and wrong. God appeals to us with His love and informs us and warns us with His truth, but He does not force us to do His will. We are entirely responsible for the way we respond to the appeal of God’s love and the warnings of His voice. In the end there is no one but ourselves responsible for our sins.

Verse 22

And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body.

Edersheim and Barclay point out the various steps of the Passover Feast, which allow us to follow what Jesus and His disciples are doing. The steps are as follows:

1. The cup of the Kiddush. Kiddush means sanctification or separation. This is the act which separates this meal from all other common meals. The head of the family takes the cup and prays over it and then passes it to his family members, and all drink of it.

2. The first hand washing. This is carried out only by the person who is to celebrate the feast. Three times he has to wash his hands in the prescribed way (see comments on chapter seven).

3. Parsley or lettuce is then dipped in the bowl of salt water and eaten. This is an appetizer to the meal. The parsley stands for the hyssop with which the lintel has been smeared with blood, and the salt stands for the tears of Egypt and the waters of the Red Sea through which Israel has been brought in safety.

4. The breaking of bread. Two blessings are used at the breaking of bread. "Blessed be thou, O Lord, our God, King of the Universe, who bringest forth from the earth." Or, "Blessed art thou, our Father in heaven, who givest us today the bread necessary for us." On the table are three circles of unleavened bread. The middle one is taken and broken. At this point only a little is eaten. It is to remind the Jews of the bread of affliction they ate in Egypt, and it is broken to remind them that slaves had never had a whole loaf but only broken crusts to eat. As it is broken, the head of the family says:

This is the bread of affliction which our forefathers ate in the land of Egypt. Whosoever is hungry let him come and eat. Whosoever is in need let him come and keep the Passover with us.

5. Next comes the relating of the story of deliverance. The youngest person present asks what makes this day different from all other days and why all this ceremony is being done. The head of the house then tells the whole story of the history of Israel down to the great deliverance which the Passover commemorated. The more detailed the story, the better. The Passover is never to become a ritual. But it is always a commemoration of the power and mercy of God.

6. Psalms 113, 114 are sung. Psalms 113-118 are known as the Hallel, which means the praise of God. All these psalms are praising psalms. They are part of the very earliest material a Jewish boy has to memorize.

7. The second cup is drunk. It is called "the cup of Haggadah," which means the cup of explaining or proclaiming.

8. All those present now wash their hands in preparation for the meal.

9. A grace is said.

Blessed art thou, O Lord, our God, who bringest forth fruit from the earth. Blessed art thou, O God, who has sanctified us with thy commandment and enjoined us to eat unleavened cakes.

Thereafter the unleavened bread is distributed.

10. Some of the bitter herbs are placed between two pieces of unleavened bread, dipped in the charoseth and eaten. This is called the sop. It is the reminder of slavery and of the bricks that once they had been compelled to make.

11. Then follows the meal proper. The whole lamb must be eaten. Anything left over must be destroyed and not used for any common meal.

12. The hands are cleansed again.

13. The remainder of the unleavened bread is eaten.

14. There is a prayer of thanksgiving, containing a petition for the coming of Elijah to herald the Messiah. Then the third cup is drunk, called "the cup of blessing." The blessing over the cup is, "Blessed art thou, O Lord, our God, King of the Universe, who hast created the fruit of the vine."

15. he second part of the Hallel--Psalms 115-118 --is sung.

16. The fourth cup is drunk; and Psalms 136, known as "the great Hallel", is sung.

17. Two short prayers are said:

All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord, our God. And thy saints, the righteous, who do thy good pleasure, and all thy people, the house of Israel with joyous song, let them praise and bless and magnify and glorify and exalt and reverence and sanctify and ascribe the Kingdom to thy name, O God, our King. For it is good to praise thee, and pleasure to sing praises to thy name, for from everlasting unto everlasting thou are God.

The breath of all that lives shall praise thy name, O Lord, O Lord, our God. And the spirit of all flesh shall continually glorify and exalt thy memorial, O God, our King. For from everlasting unto everlasting thou art God, and beside thee we have no king, redeemer or savior (Barclay 337-339; Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah 493-495).

The prayers complete the Passover Feast. We can only speculate at what point Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper. Barclay believes Jesus uses items 13 and 14 (compare 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 for "cup of blessing") for the communion (339). Other scholars believe Jesus uses item 9 for the bread in the Lord’s Supper but waits until the completion of the Passover meal ("Likewise also the cup after supper" Luke 22:20) and uses the fourth cup of the Passover to institute the "cup of blessing" in the Lord’s Supper. All of the above speculation is really of no importance. What is really important is the purpose of the Lord’s Supper, not the time within the Passover Feast that it is instituted.

And as they did eat: Some word this clause "and while they were eating." This expression necessarily implies the institution of the Lord’s Supper takes place during the course of the Passover meal. Mark makes it clear there are two significant events that take place during the meal: the startling disclosure that there is a traitor present and the institution of the Lord’s Supper.

Jesus took bread: "Bread" is translated from artos, which is different from the word usually translated "unleavened bread" (azumon, verse 12). However, since it is unlawful for any leaven to be in the house at the time of the Passover, it follows that this bread must have been unleavened. Thayer says artos is: composed of flour mixed with water and baked; the Israelites made it in the form of an oblong or round cake, as thick as one’s thumb, and as large as a plate or platter, hence it was not cut, but broken (75-76).

and blessed: The word "blessed" is eulogesas and means "to consecrate a thing with solemn prayers; to ask God’s blessing on a thing, pray him to bless it to one’s use, pronounce a consecratory blessing on" (Thayer 259-260).

and brake it, and gave to them: There has been much disagreement as to how Jesus breaks the bread. Some believe He breaks it into as many pieces as there are disciples. Others believe He breaks it in two, or near the middle and that we must do the same today to make the bread represent the body of Christ "which is broken for you" (1 Corinthians 11:24). A proper understanding of this passage, however, leads us to conclude Jesus merely breaks off a fragment of the bread, eats it, and hands the bread cake to the disciples and says, "This do" (Luke 22:19). In other words, they are to do what Jesus has done. "Brake" is translated from klao, which means "to break off" (Analytical Greek Lexicon 232); "to break off pieces" (Vine 147). The noun form of the word "brake" (klao) is klasma, which means "a fragment, broken piece" (Thayer 347); "a piece broken off" (Analytical Greek Lexicon 232). Further, the Apostle Paul says:

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread (1 Corinthians 10:16-17).

Paul implies that we all break the loaf. Notice the use of the pronoun "we." "We, being many." "We are all partakers." "The bread which we brake." In The Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness, J.D. Phillips quotes Vine as saying:

We should notice the pronoun "we." Each believer breaks the bread for himself. There is no hint in the New Testament of the dispensing of the elements by a "minister" (8).

Does Jesus eat the piece that He breaks off of the bread? Absolutely. The expression "breaking of bread" (Acts 2:42; Acts 20:7; Acts 20:11; 1 Corinthians 10:16, etc.) is a familiar Hebrew idiom that automatically implies that the bread broken is also eaten. J. D. Phillips offers the following:

Rabbi Mayer Winkler, a native Jew, says, "Paras lechem means to break the bread, but it involves the idea to break and eat, because, according to the Jewish law, if you pronounce a benediction over bread, you must eat. Otherwise, you are not allowed to pronounce the benediction."

Rabbi Julius L. Seigel, a Jewish believer, says the same and adds:

According to Rabbinic and Talmudic law, no person should pronounce a "blessing" (see Matthew 26:26) and "break bread" with his guests (see Luke 22:19) unless he also partakes (The Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness 10-11).

and said, Take, eat, this is my body: Jesus explains the spiritual significance of the bread in the newly established Lord’s Supper by saying the bread is an emblem, or type, of His body. For centuries there has been much controversy over the meaning of this statement by Jesus. Some religions take His words literally and contend that when the bread is blessed during the Lord’s Supper, it is miraculously transformed into Jesus’ actual body. This doctrine is called transubstantiation, and has long been a belief of the Roman Catholic Church. To make this interpretation is to ignore the fact that when Jesus makes this statement, He is in His body in the presence of His disciples, for all to see. He is holding in His hand the bread. There is a clear distinction between His actual physical body and the bread. Jesus does not perform an alchemy on the bread; and, hence, the physical properties or characteristics of the bread remain unchanged. This interpretation also ignores the fact that Jesus often uses symbolical language. For example, Jesus says, "I am the vine" (John 15:1; John 15:5). He obviously does not mean He is an actual vine. But Jesus is to His people what a vine is to its branches--the source of unity, life, and the potential to bear fruit. In this same setting, Jesus later says, "This cup is the new testament" (Luke 22:20). Just as it is universally agreed that the cup does not become the actual New Testament but is just an emblem of it, the bread does not actually become the body of Christ but is an emblem of it.

The Paschal lamb is a type of the Lord’s body in the Passover. The lamb pointed forward to the time Jesus would die as a sacrifice for our sins. Jesus had only one physical body to offer as a sacrifice on Golgotha; consequently, God commanded there must be only one lamb per assembly in the Passover Feast (Exodus 12:3). Similarly, because the bread of the Lord’s Supper is a type of Jesus’ body, there must be only one bread per assembly in the Lord’s Supper.

C.E.W. Dorris agrees:

"A loaf" does not mean two or more loaves, but one. The loaf, which was one, points to the body of Christ. Jesus had one body he offered for the sins of the world and the one loaf represents that one body. Two loaves on the Lord’s table are out of place and have no divine sanction. One loaf is safe, two are doubtful, to say the least. It is always safe to be on the safe side (328-329).

Alexander Campbell reasons as follows:

On the Lord’s table there is of necessity but one loaf. The necessity is not that of a positive law enjoining one loaf and only one, as the ritual of Moses enjoined twelve loaves. But it is a necessity arising from the meaning of the Institution as explained by the Apostle. As there is but one literal body, and but one mystical or figurative body having many members; so there must be but one loaf. The Apostle insists upon this, "Because there is one loaf, we, the many, are one body; for we are all partakers of that one loaf" (1 Corinthians 10:17)...Here the Apostle reasons from what is more plain to what is less plain; from what was established to what was not so fully established in the minds of the Corinthians. There was no dispute about the one loaf; therefore, there ought to be none about the one body (268).

Verse 23

And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it.

And he took the cup: It is uncertain which one of the four Passover cups Jesus uses in instituting this part of the Lord’s Supper, but it is clear He uses only one. Matthew’s account says, "And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it" (26:27). Luke says, "Likewise also the cup after supper..." (22:20). Lane offers these comments:

If Manuscript k preserves the original form of the Marcan text the stress falls on an essential feature of the proceedings, that all ate from one loaf and all drank from one cup. Cf. 1 Corinthians 10:16-17. For a defense of this reading see C. H. Turner, "Western Readings in the Second Half of St. Mark’s Gospel," Journal Of Theological Studies 29 (1928), p. 10 (504).

and when he had given thanks: The expression "given thanks" is translated from Eucharistesas. "Eucharist" is a transliteration of this Greek word, and it is the title by which many denominations refer to the Lord’s Supper. Even though this is a different word from the one translated "blessed" (eulogesas) in the preceding verse, there is probably no difference in meaning. When Jesus miraculously feeds the five thousand, His prayer of thanks is referred to as eulogesen (6:41); but when He feeds the four thousand, His prayer of thanks is translated from eucharistesas (8:6).

he gave it to them: and they all drank of it: The New International Version says "and they all drank from it." Mark emphasizes that all (pantes) of the disciples drank from the cup of blessing. Matthew’s account shows this is a clear command of Jesus, "Drink of it, all (pantes) of you" (New International Version 26:27). Plummer observes it is not necessary for Mark to say that all of the disciples partook of the bread because the context necessarily implies they did; however:

...the cup was handed to only one of them. Some might have passed it without drinking, or it might not have gone the whole way round. Mark desires to make clear that all drank (322).

Verse 24

And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.

And he said unto them, This is my blood: The pronoun "This" obviously refers to the contents of the cup or the "fruit of the vine" (verse 25). When the Apostle Paul says "For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup..." (1 Corinthians 11:26), he uses the word "cup" as a figure of speech called "metonymy" to suggest what is in the cup. When Jesus takes the cup (poterion), He takes a literal cup containing the fruit of the vine; but when He says, "This is my blood," "This" refers to the cup. The reference, however, is "by metonymy, the contents of the cup, what is offered to be drunk" (Thayer 533).

The fruit of the vine (genematos tes ampelou) Jesus uses is unfermented wine. As mentioned earlier, all leaven must be removed from the house before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The word "leaven" (zuma) is defined "To leaven, cause to ferment" (Analytical Greek Lexicon 183). Kitto adds:

Fermentation is nothing else but the putrefaction of a substance containing no nitrogen. Ferment, or yeast, is a substance in a state of putrefaction, the atoms of which are in continual motion (Turner’s Chemistry, Liebig) (Vol. 2 236).

Thayer quotes Gesenius as saying "leaven applied to the wine as really as to the bread" (71). Patton argues further:

The Rev. A.P. Peabody, D.D., in his essay on the Lord’s Supper, says: "The writer has satisfied himself, by careful research, that in our Saviour’s time the Jews, at least the high ritualists among them, extended the prohibition of leaven to the principle of fermentation in every form; and that it was customary, at the Passover festival, for the master of the household to press the contents of "the cup" from clusters of grapes preserved for this special purpose" (Monthly Review, Jan. 1870, p. 41) (84).

Because the word "wine" (oinos) is a general term that refers to both unfermented and fermented wine, it is probable the writers of the gospels use the more specific expression "fruit of the vine" in describing the Lord’s Supper to specify the pure juice of the grape. It is unlikely Jesus would select intoxicating wine that His own inspired word describes as "a mocker," "the poison of asps," "who bites like a serpent and stings like an adder," as the symbol of His atoning blood.

This is my blood of the new testament: This phrase is literally translated, "This is the blood of me, of the covenant, being shed" (Marshall 204). The expression "blood of the covenant" is borrowed from Exodus 24:6-8 where the old covenant at Sinai is ratified by the sprinkling of sacrificial blood and serves to set the whole of Jesus’ Messianic action in the light of covenant renewal. It also evokes Jeremiah 31:31-33 where God promises to establish a new covenant with His people in the last days. That promise is soon to be fulfilled with the institution of this ordinance and the death it anticipates.

Just as the fruit of the vine is an emblem of the blood of Jesus, Paul and Luke designate the cup as the emblem of the covenant:

After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me (1 Corinthians 11:25).

Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you (Luke 22:20).

Note the following translations of the phrase "This cup is the new testament in my blood:"

Moffatt: "This cup means the new covenant ratified by my blood."

Williams: "This cup is the new covenant ratified by my blood."

Twentieth Century New Testament: "This cup is the new covenant made by my blood."

Goodspeed: "This cup is the new agreement ratified by my blood."

Amplified: "This cup is the new covenant [ratified and established] in My blood."

Matthew and Mark point out the spiritual significance of the fruit of the vine while Luke and Paul point out the spiritual significance of the cup. Matthew and Mark emphasize the blood, but Luke and Paul emphasize the new covenant.

Lane makes these comments:

The allusion to his violent death in the redness of the wine and the reference to the shedding of blood are unmistakable. Yet the cup, whose wine represents Jesus’ blood provides assurance to the disciples that they share in the new divine order which is inaugurated through his death. The cup is thus the pledge that when the people of God meet in table-fellowship, their Master, who goes to his death, is present with the fulness of salvation achieved by this death on behalf of "the many" (507).

I.H. Marshall agrees:

In Luke and Paul touto ("this") is explained as referring to the cup, and it is the cup (with its contents) which is the symbol of the new covenant brought about by the blood of Jesus shed for the disciples (805-806).

James D. Bales corroborates the above in his article "The New Covenant and the Bible":

What is the New Covenant? It is not just the event of Jesus Christ, or his death, burial and resurrection, although it involves these as well as his coronation. It is more than these things for it is the agreement between God and his people which one enters into when he accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. One enters the Covenant when from a believing, penitent heart--which trusts in Christ and his gospel--he is baptized into Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. His blood is the blood of the Covenant, his blood made the Covenant operative, but the Covenant is not the blood itself, although the cup whose contents symbolized his blood was said to be the New Covenant in his blood (Luke 22:20). He is not the mediator of his blood. His blood dedicated the Covenant and made it operative (Hebrews 9:15-26). His blood is the blood of the everlasting covenant, but it is not the blood of the everlasting blood--as it would have to be if the blood and the covenant are the same thing (Hebrews 13:20) (Firm Foundation, July 17, 1973, 4 [454]).

Thayer, under the entry of aima (blood), adds:

Moreover, since Christ’s dying blood served to establish new religious institutions and a new relationship between men and God, it is likened also to a federative or covenant sacrifice: to aima tes diathekes the blood by the shedding of which the covenant should be ratified, Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24, or has been ratified, Hebrews 10:29; Hebrews 13:20 (cf. 9:20); add 1 Corinthians 11:25; Luke 22:20 (in both which the meaning is, "this cup containing wine, an emblem of blood, is rendered by the shedding of my blood an emblem of the new covenant"), 1 Corinthians 11:27 (15).

From the above we conclude that the blood and the covenant are inseparable. We cannot have one without the other. The blood ratifies the covenant, and the covenant makes the benefits of the blood available. This is beautifully typified in the Lord’s Supper. The cup, which represents the New Testament, and the fruit of the vine, which represents the blood, are also inseparable. Just as the new covenant conveys the benefits of the blood, the cup conveys the representative of that blood. It is the presence of the fruit of the vine in the cup that makes the cup significant. There is no covenant without blood. The cup does not represent the testament without the emblem of blood.

Wayne Fussell lists these parallels concerning the emblems of the Savior’s body, blood, and covenant:

1. The three statements ("This [bread] is my body which is given for you" [Luke 22:19]; "This [fruit of the vine] is my blood of the New Testament" [Mark 14:24]; and "This cup is the new testament in my blood" [Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25]) are contextual, analogical, syntactical, and grammatical parallels in their essential particulars.

2. Each has a subject and a predicate joined by the copula "is."

3. Each embraces a metaphor which is a figure of comparison and which is suggested by "is;" in which usage "is" carries with it the idea of "represents." In other words, just as the bread represents the body and the fruit of the vine the blood, so the cup represents the New Testament.

4. Each also embraces a prolepsis--"is given," "is shed"; anticipatory language, in which a future event is spoken of as an accomplished fact.

5. The subject of each is a literal something. If the bread is literal and the fruit of the vine is literal, then the cup is literal.

6. If after Christ made these statements, the bread was still literal bread but with a spiritual significance, and the fruit of the vine was still literal fruit of the vine but with a spiritual significance, then the cup was still a literal cup but with spiritual significance.

7. If when Christ said of the bread, "This is my body which is given for you," the bread and the body of Christ were two different things but with a spiritual relationship; and if when Christ said of the fruit of the vine, "This is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many," the fruit of the vine and the shed blood were two different things but with a spiritual relationship; then, when Christ said, "This cup is the New Testament in my blood, which is shed for you," the cup and the New Testament were two different things but with a spiritual relationship.

8. If the bread Christ took was literal bread before, when and after He took it; and if the fruit of the vine He took was literal fruit of the vine before, when and after He took it; then, the cup He took was a literal cup before, when and after He took it.

9. Jesus was no more defining "cup" than He was defining "bread" and "fruit of the vine." Bread was still bread, fruit of the vine was still fruit of the vine, and cup was still cup.

a. Therefore, these passages in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and 1 Corinthians are parallel statements. When they are taken together, we see that just as the loaf represents the body and the fruit of the vine represents the blood, the cup represents the New Testament.

b. The cup has meaning. It is the picture of the New Testament or New Covenant. There is only one New Covenant. There must of necessity be but one cup to symbolize it (142).

Fussell is correct in his conclusion. Since the cup (filled with the fruit of the vine and sanctified by prayer) becomes spiritually significant as an emblem of the new covenant, it is imperative that we follow Jesus’ example and use one cup when we observe the Lord’s Supper today.

Paul exhorts the Corinthians to "keep the ordinances as I delivered them to you" (1 Corinthians 11:2), and apparently the earliest Christians did just that. Ignatius, an elder in the church at Antioch during a 37-year period beginning in A.D. 70, writes to the congregation at Philadelphia:

There is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup in the unity of His blood...One loaf is broken for them all, and one cup is distributed among them all (Vol. I 81).

In the first sentence, Ignatius identifies what the emblems of the Lord’s Supper are--one loaf and one cup; and in the second sentence he states what the actual practice of the early church was.

Justin writes the following statement about 65 years after the death of the Apostle John. Under the heading of "Administration Of The Sacraments," he says, "There is brought to the president of the brethren (This expression may quite legitimately be translated, "to that brethren who was presiding") bread and a cup of wine." Later, under the heading "Of The Eucharist," Justin adds:

For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, "This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body;" and that after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, said, "This is My blood;" and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either can know or can learn (Vol. I 185).

Justin not only reveals that the gospels instruct Christians to observe the Lord’s Supper with bread and a cup of wine, but he points out that the followers of Mithras did "the same thing" except they used water instead of fruit of the vine. According to Justin, this pagan ritual was done in order to mock the Lord’s Supper.

Cyprian, who lived from A.D. 130 to A.D. 258, writes to Caecilius to correct a practice by some, who "either by ignorance or simplicity in sanctifying the cup of the Lord, and in ministering to the people, do not that which Jesus Christ, our Lord and God, the founder and teacher of this sacrifice, did and taught" (Vol. V 359). Obviously, Cyprian believes that the Lord’s Supper should be kept just as it was instituted by Christ. Further, in his argument that the wine in the cup must not be replaced by water, he makes a clear distinction between the cup and its contents:

Know then that I have been admonished that, in offering the cup, the tradition of the Lord must be observed, and that nothing must be done by us but what the Lord first did on our behalf, as that the cup which is offered in remembrance of Him should be offered mingled with wine. For when Christ says, "I am the true vine," the blood of Christ is assuredly not water, but wine; neither can His blood by which we are redeemed and quickened appear to be in the cup, when in the cup there is no wine whereby the blood of Christ is shown forth, which is declared by the sacrament and testimony of all the Scriptures (Vol. V 359).

Chrysostom, who lived from 347 A.D. to 407 A.D., says in his "Homily on Matthew," that even though the cup that Jesus uses when He instituted the Lord’s Supper is not gold, it is still awe inspiring:

That table at that time was not of silver, nor that cup of gold, out of which Christ gave His disciples His own blood; but precious was everything there, and awful, for that they were full of the Spirit (Vol. X 312).

Chrysostom, in his "Homilies on First Corinthians," writes concerning Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10:16:

Very persuasively spake he, and awfully. For what he says is this: "This which is in the cup is that which flowed from His side, and of that do we partake." But he called it a cup of blessing, because holding it in our hands, we so exalt Him in our hymn, wondering, astonished at His unspeakable gift, blessing Him, among other things, for the pouring out of this self-same draught that we might not abide in error (Vol. XII 139).

Augustin, who is generally conceded to have been the greatest of the four "Latin Fathers," was born in A.D. 354 and died in A.D. 430. Augustin was a student of Ambrose and a contempory of Jerome. He writes in Ad Neophytos, "Receive in the cup that which was shed from Christ’s side."

It is obvious from the above quotations that the common practice of congregations in ancient times was to use one loaf and one cup in the Lord’s Supper. However, as Ronny Wade says:

Departures from the ancient pattern soon began to occur. We know that even in Corinth, while Paul was still living, certain perversions had taken place (The Sun Will Shine Again, Someday 53).

There are two references in the early church writings (Ante-Nicene Fathers 7:554; and Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series 14:138-139) which mention multiple "chalices" (cups) on the Lord’s table. "The full-blown Apostate Church would eventually withdraw the cup from the laity altogether, further destroying the symbolism of this sacred feast" (Wade 53).

Today, innovative departures from the original pattern of the Lord’s Supper have caused much division within the churches of Christ. In 1894, Dr. John G. Thomas, a doctor and a Congregationalist preacher, invented the individual communion set; and it was not long until the "Thomas Communion Service" was introduced into churches of Christ. G.C. Brewer (circa 1912) says in the introduction to his book, Forty Years on the Firing Line:

I think I was the first preacher to advocate the use of the individual communion cup, and the first church in the State of Tennessee that adopted it was the church for which I was preaching, the Central Church of Christ at Chattanooga, Tennessee (Newberry 21).

For more on this subject, see a critical treatise by J.D. Phillips, The Cup of the Lord; The Sun Will Shine Again, Someday, by Ronny Wade; The Divine Pattern Advocate, by Alfred L. Newberry; and Sanitation in Communion, by Dr. James D. Orten and Alton B. Bailey.

Verse 25

Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.

Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more: The Passover would never again be celebrated by Jesus’ disciples with its old signification. After the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, the Passover would have an entirely new meaning. Jesus would be the Passover for Christians (1 Corinthians 5:7). Just as the blood of the paschal lamb protected the firstborn of the Israelite families in Egypt, the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God "slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8), allows us to be protected from destruction in judgment.

of the fruit of the vine: The "fruit of the vine" is used here as a synecdoche--a reference to the whole Lord’s Supper by mentioning only one part.

until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God: Some commentators think this "day" refers to the time when the church would be fully set up on Pentecost and the Lord would eat with His disciples, in spirit, as they partook of the Lord’s Supper. It is more probable, though, that this phrase refers to the time after the resurrection when believers will be transformed to be like Christ and will feast forever in the company of their Lord, to praise Him forevermore. Then both the Passover and Lord’s Supper will reach their fruition (Psalms 23:5; Isaiah 25:6; Luke 14:15; Revelation 3:20; Revelation 19:9; Revelation 19:17).

Verse 26

And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.

And when they had sung an hymn: As mentioned earlier, the Hallel (Psalms 115-118) is sung at specific intervals during the Passover. Since the Lord’s Supper is a natural outgrowth of the Passover, it is probable the hymn the Lord and His disciples sing is one of these psalms of praise, thanksgiving, and trust.

they went out into the mount of Olives: This departure from the city to the Mount of Olives has become habitual, and the disciples--only eleven now--are not surprised when they are summoned to leave the upper room.

Verse 27

And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.

And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended: The phrase "ye shall be offended" is translated from skandalisthesesthe and has been variously translated as "to be made to stumble," "to turn against me," "to fall away (from me)," "to become untrue (to me)" (Wuest 262-263). The last two are probably the most accurate. Jesus has often warned His disciples against becoming "offended" at Him and falling away from Him (4:17; 9:42ff.; Luke 7:23; John 16:1); but now He warns the apostles that they all, without exception, would turn away from Him--that very night.

for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: Jesus quotes from Zechariah 13:7. When a shepherd is struck down, the sheep will scatter in every direction because they have lost their rallying point. Jesus says the same will be true of His disciples. When Jesus is arrested, tried, and crucified, His disciples will scatter from Him in panic.

Verse 28

But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee.

But after that I am risen: Jesus seldom mentions the gloom of His Passion without the contrasting hope of the resurrection.

I will go before you into Galilee: Jesus contrasts His going before them into Jerusalem to die with His going before them to Galilee, their homeland. It is only natural the disciples would return to Galilee after the Passover, and now Jesus reassures them by telling them He would be there when they arrive (16:7; Matthew 28:16). Jesus’ reassuring prediction of His resurrection seems to make little impression on the disciples. There is no evidence that they confidently expect His reappearance. The reaction of the disciples here is very similar to the reaction of Peter in Mark 8:31 ff when Jesus announces He is going to be killed and raised up. Peter is so shaken by the thought of Jesus’ being killed that he completely ignores the prediction Jesus would be raised up. Now, the pall cast over the disciples by the imminent crucifixion seems to obscure the promise of Jesus’ resurrection.

Verse 29

But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I.

Peter’s contradiction of Jesus’ prophecy is entirely consistent with the incident in Mark 8:31 ff. Because of his own self-confidence and his deep affection for Jesus, Peter could not conceive of himself being faithless. Peter concedes the others might fall away, but he claims he would never forsake Jesus.

Verse 30

And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.

And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee: The explosive protest of Peter draws an emphatic, specific response by Jesus. In his protest, Peter emphasizes "all" the others, but in His reply, Jesus specifically emphasizes "you" (su)--"You who feel so confident!"

That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice: The day begins at 6:00 in the evening, commencing the night of the Passover Feast. Jesus tells Peter, who has so confidently protested he would not deny Jesus, that Peter would not only deny Him but he would deny Him within a matter of hours. Plummer says, " the East cocks crow with extraordinary regularity at certain hours, about twelve, two, and five o’clock" (325). See comments on Mark 13:35 for "cock-crowing" as a time indicator.

thou shalt deny me thrice: Jesus is not only pinpointing the time of Peter’s denials but also He is making a commentary upon the shallow nature of Peter’s boast. Obviously Jesus is saying Peter will deny Him three times before the rooster crows the second time. Jesus also reveals the first rooster-crowing will not stop the denials. In spite of this specific warning, Peter will con­tinue to deny that he knows Jesus.

Verse 31

But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all.

But he spake the more vehemently: "Vehemently" is from ekperissos and is found only here in the New Testament. It means "exceedingly, out of measure, the more: used of intense earnestness" (Thayer 198). The verb is in the imperfect tense and means that Peter continues to protest vehemently.

If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise: Intensifying his vehement protests to the prediction that he would deny Jesus, Peter makes the ultimate claim that he would die for Jesus before denying Him.

Likewise also said they all: Peter’s passionate protest stirs the other ten disciples to echo his words. The verb is again in the imperfect tense and means the other disciples continue to echo Peter’s protest of loyalty. Ironically, in a matter of a few hours, the disciples will have fled from Jesus, and Peter will use this same vehemence to deny his knowledge of Christ.

Verse 32

And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray.

And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: "Gethsemane" means literally "the place of the oil press," which indicates the plot of land contained an olive press. John adds the place is a garden that lies on the eastern side of the Kidron, at the foot of the Mount of Olives (18:1). John says Jesus "often" resorts there (18:2), and Luke says Jesus goes there "as he was wont (custom)" (22:39). Gethsemane is one of many gardens surrounding Jerusalem (John 19:41) and is, no doubt, an ideal spot for resting, sleeping, praying, and teaching. It is possibly owned by one of Jesus’ followers. As Harrison says:

There are two famous gardens in the Bible: Eden, where the first Adam failed, and Gethsemane, where the Last Adam wrestled in prayer and attained the victory and poise that carried him through the remaining hours of his earthly course (189).

and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray: Judas has already gone to bring Jesus’ conspirators to arrest Him, so there are only eleven disciples present. All eleven seem to have entered the garden, but Jesus instructs eight of the disciples to rest near the entrance while He prays.

Verse 33

And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy;

And he taketh with him Peter and James and John: The fact that Jesus separates these three disciples and retreats with them for prayer is not surprising to the others (5:37; 9:2), but we can only speculate as to His motives. It is possible He needs these three--His most intimate followers--for moral support. When faced with great suffering, most people want to have someone with them to share the burden. Jesus is entering the most trying moments of His life; and, being human, He would need their fellowship (Hebrews 4:15). It is also possible Jesus selects these three because of their self-confident boasts that they are prepared to share His destiny. Earlier, James and John protest that they are prepared to receive the same destiny as Jesus (10:38-40), and now Peter makes the same boisterous avowal. The ambition of these three disciples for privileged status, coupled with their failure to understand what it would mean to share Jesus’ destiny and to be identified with His sufferings, could be the occasion for their isolation from the others.

and began to be sore amazed: The expression "sore amazed" is from ekthambeisthai and means "to be struck with terror" (Thayer 195).

and to be very heavy: This phrase is from ademonein and is also translated "to be depressed or dejected, full of anguish or sorrow" (Analytical Greek Lexicon 6). Swete gives the following insight:

The shadow of death begins to fall upon Him as He passes with the Three into the depths of the olive-grove. The Lord was overwhelmed with sorrow (see next verse), but His first feeling was one of terrified surprise. Long as He had foreseen the Passion, when it came clearly into view its terrors exceeded His anticipations. His human soul received a new experience and the last lesson of obedience began with a sensation of inconceivable awe. With this there came another, that of overpowering mental distress. These references shew that ademonein forms a natural sequel to ekthambeisthai, representing the distress which follows a great shock, "the confused, restless, half-distracted state" (Lightfoot) which may be worse than the sharp pain of a fully realized sorrow (342).

Verse 34

And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch.

And saith unto them: Jesus reveals to Peter, James, and John the overwhelming distress He is feeling.

My soul: Thayer says that "soul" (phuche) is the "seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions" (677). Mention of Jesus’"soul" is rare in the gospels. In fact, with the exceptions of John 11:33; John 12:27, where the reference to "soul" is to the individual life rather than the seat of the emotions, there is no other direct reference to Jesus’ soul. The rare use of the term may very well be a warning to us not to "pry into the Self-consciousness of Christ. We know very little about it" (Plummer 327).

is exceeding sorrowful unto death: The phrase "unto death" is heos thanatou, and Thayer says it means "so that I almost die" (283). Gould translates the phrase, "My sorrow is killing me; it is crushing the life out of me" (269). The cause of this overwhelming grief is much debated. Many of the early church historians, including Ambrose, believe Jesus’ sorrow and prayers are only for the sins and woes of men. Other scholars believe Jesus’ emotions are just normal reactions of His human nature, shrinking from the cross. Still others believe the horror Jesus is experiencing is the prospect of being separated from the Father, which would be the inevitable consequence of His taking our sins upon Himself upon the cross. Lane best describes this view:

The dreadful sorrow and anxiety, then, out of which the prayer for the passing of the cup springs, is not an expression of fear before a dark destiny, nor a shrinking from the prospect of physical suffering and death. It is rather the horror of the one who lives wholly for the Father at the prospect of the alienation from God which is entailed in the judgment upon sin which Jesus assumes. The horror thus anticipates the cry of dereliction in Ch. 15:34. Jesus came to be with the Father for an interlude before his betrayal, but found hell rather than heaven opened before him, and he staggered (516).

tarry ye here, and watch: The three disciples are placed where they can see and hear. Just as they witnessed Jesus’ triumphant raising of Jairus’ daughter from death and the glory of His transfiguration, now they are to see Him in the humiliation of His agony. Jesus wants His disciples to watch with Him, to share His vigil, not against the enemies who are enroute to take Him, but against the flood of woes overwhelming His soul.

Verse 35

And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.

And he went forward a little: Jesus separates Himself a few yards from the three disciples, about a "stone’s cast," according to Luke 22:41, as if to isolate Himself from the three during His prayer.

and fell on the ground: Mark gives a graphic description of Jesus’ intensifying agony. Rather than assuming one of the common postures in prayer, such as kneeling, Jesus throws Himself on the ground, completely prostrate before God, revealing an attitude of deep distress and complete helplessness.

and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him: "The hour" refers to the bitterly painful woes that await Jesus in the events leading up to and including the crucifixion. Jesus has often looked ahead to this hour (John 2:4; John 7:30; John 8:20; John 12:23; John 12:27; John 13:1); but now as the time draws near, He dreads it.

Verse 36

And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.

And he said, Abba, Father: "Abba" is the Aramaic word for "Father" while the word "Father" is translated from the Greek word Pater. Some scholars think it is doubtful Jesus actually uttered both words, but it is more likely that Mark preserves the original word Jesus uses, "Abba," and then immediately translates it into the more familiar Greek (Pater) for his Roman readers. It is more probable that Jesus speaks both words as a natural outgrowth of His strong feeling. Jesus has previously used repetition for emphasis: "Martha, Martha" (Luke 10:41) and "Jerusalem, Jerusalem" (Matthew 23:37). The Apostle Paul also uses this form in Romans 8:15:

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

Mark mentions two prayers on this occasion and says that the second is essentially the same as the first. In the parallel accounts, Luke mentions just one prayer while Matthew mentions three.

all things are possible unto thee: Jesus has impressed on His apostles that God has the power to do whatever He wants. He now prays with full confidence that even now, if it is God’s will, Jesus can avert the horrible suffering ahead.

take away this cup from me: The word "cup" is a metaphor that refers to the imminent suffering leading up to and including the crucifixion and corresponds to "the hour" in verse 35.

nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt: These words prove Jesus has a human will that is distinct from, but always lovingly surrendered to, the Father’s will. These words also call to mind the "Lord’s Prayer" in which Jesus teaches His disciples to pray, "Thy will be done." In spite of the fact that Jesus is fully aware of the horrors that lie before Him, He resolutely refuses to place His will in opposition to the Father’s.

Verse 37

And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour?

And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping: Luke says they are "sleeping for sorrow" (22:45), which the New English Bible translates, "worn out by grief." The disciples are exhausted from the events that reveal to them more clearly the suffering that is at hand for Jesus. This scene is also reminiscent of their falling asleep on the Mount of Transfiguration (Luke 9:32).

and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou?: Even though this rebuke is intended for all three disciples, it is directed particularly to Peter; and Jesus calls him by his old name, Simon. No doubt Peter is addressed first because of his recent, vehement protestations of absolute allegiance to Jesus. Perhaps Jesus uses the name "Simon" to remind Peter that he has not really matured greatly since the time of his calling in Galilee.

couldest not thou watch one hour: This question gives us an indication of the length of Jesus’ prayer. The disciples have been instructed to watch, and it is incredible that they did not have the discipline to stay awake for an hour at such a critical time.

Verse 38

Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.

Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation: The meaning of "Watch" varies slightly here from verses 34 and 37. Earlier, Jesus wants the disciples to "stay awake," "be alert"; but a person may be wide awake physically and still fall prey to temptation. Temptation contrasts with other forms of suffering, in that it presents the possibility of stumbling and falling into sin. Temptation is an "invitation to be untrue to God" (Lane 520). Thus, as Christ is praying for Himself, He admonishes His disciples to pray for themselves. There is a striking contrast between Jesus’ desperate praying during temptation and the self-confident disciples’ apparently seeing no need to pray. Eventually, Peter learns this lesson well and later writes, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8).

The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak: The words "spirit" (pneuma) and "flesh" (sarx) refer to the two extremes of human nature. "Spirit" denotes the highest nature of man while "flesh" denotes the lower nature of man--the animal nature with its passions. Jesus is saying to the disciples, "Be alert! Be watchful, and pray! I know that your spirit is ready and eager to stand by me because you have emphatically declared it. But your lower nature is weak and terrified of danger and death, which makes you susceptible to temptation."

Verse 39

And again he went away, and prayed, and spake the same words.

Jesus again separates Himself from the disciples and repeats His earnest and fervent prayer to the Father. His human nature again asserts itself first in the prayer when He asks that He might avoid the cup of suffering; yet ultimately, again, Jesus submits His own will to the will of the Father.

Verse 40

And when he returned, he found them asleep again, (for their eyes were heavy,) neither wist they what to answer him.

And when he returned, he found them asleep again, (for their eyes were heavy,): The word "heavy" (katabarunomenoi) is literally translated "weighed down" and implies an involuntary action. Surely Peter, James, and John want to stay awake; but they succumb to their drowsiness; and upon Jesus’ return to check on them, they are sleeping again.

neither wist they what to answer him: They have no excuse for themselves. If they had obeyed the Lord’s instructions and kept on praying, they probably would not have fallen asleep.

Verse 41

And he cometh the third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.

And he cometh the third time: Mark does not mention the third retreat and prayer, but he implies it by mentioning Jesus’ third return. Some commentators believe it is during the third prayer that Luke 22:44 fits:

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: The meaning of these words is difficult. Possibly, they are to be understood as a reproachful question: "Are you going to continue your sleep and take your rest?" "Is it utterly impossible to get you to watch and pray?" Swete believes Jesus, using irony, is saying, "Go ahead and sleep then, since that is what you are going to do anyway!" It is also possible, based on the words that follow immediately, that Jesus is saying, "There is no need to watch and pray now, for the issue has been settled. I have overcome the temptation to avoid the cup of suffering and shall completely submit to the Father’s will."

it is enough, the hour is come: These words have puzzled expositors for years. Thayer says the word "enough" (apechei) means: is...sufficient (Mark 14:41), where the explanation is "ye have slept now long enough"; so that Christ takes away the permission, just given to his disciples, of sleeping longer (57).

Robertson offers another possibility when he says the word "enough" (apechei) is used in papyri as "a receipt for payment in full" (Word Pictures in the New Testament 386). Hence, the meaning here could possibly be "settled" or "the transaction is at an end."

Jesus had prayed that if it were possible "the hour" might pass from him. He now says "the hour has come," and the possibility contemplated in his prayer has proven invalid (Lane 522).

Judas is on his way to betray Jesus into the hands of His enemies, so the issue about which Jesus has prayed is settled. Swete adds, "This is no time for a lengthened exposure of the faults of friends; the enemy is at the gate" (349).

behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners: This phrase explains the meaning of "the hour is come." Compare comments on 9:31 and 10:33.

Verse 42

Rise up, let us go; lo, he that betrayeth me is at hand.

Rise up: Jesus is standing, but the disciples are still lying on the ground.

let us go: Go where? Jesus is not going to try to escape from those coming to arrest Him, but rather He is going to meet them (John 18:4). Origen concludes:

I would say that, if to be taken prisoner implies an act done against one’s will, then Jesus was not taken prisoner; for at the fitting time He did not prevent Himself falling into the hands of men (Vol. IV 434).

he that betrayeth me is at hand: During the meal in the upper room, Jesus has revealed to Peter and John the identity of His betrayer as Judas. This expression points back to that disclosure (13:23-26).

Verse 43

And immediately, while he yet spake, cometh Judas, one of the twelve, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.

And immediately, while he yet spake, cometh Judas, one of the twelve: The words Jesus speaks to the three hardly leave His lips before Judas arrives at the garden with the multitude.

and with him a great multitude: Jesus has previously escaped the efforts of the Sanhedrin to arrest Him (John 8:59); hence, a large number of armed men accompany Judas to ensure Jesus’ arrest. This multitude includes the temple guards (Luke 22:52) under its captains. In addition, "the language of St. John (18:3, 12) leaves no doubt that a detachment of Roman soldiers accompanied...the Temple guard to take Jesus" (Edersheim, The Temple 201). A cohort (John 18:3) of Roman soldiers is the tenth part of a legion, or about six hundred men (Thayer 583). These Roman legionaries probably are from the fortress of Antonia, located at the northwest corner of the temple area. It would have been easy to secure the help of these Roman soldiers, even without the permission of Pilate, if they are convinced it would prevent trouble in Jerusalem during the Passover when there is always the danger of a Jewish rebellion.

with swords and staves: "Swords" is from machairon and refers to "a large knife, poniard (dagger); a sword" (Analytical Geek Lexicon 259). Swete says machairon probably means the short swords or knives that private persons carried (349). "Staves" is from xulon and refers to sticks or clubs, such as the fullers (laundrers) used in Jerusalem. In addition to the temple guards and the Roman soldiers, the multitude--armed with clubs and knives--includes a number of fanatics from the general population who approve of the arrest "as against a murderer."

from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders: Representatives of the three groups who make up the Sanhedrin are also with Judas. Malchus, the servant of the high priest, is there, probably near the front of the multitude with Judas (14:47).

Verse 44

And he that betrayed him had given them a token, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he; take him, and lead him away safely.

And he that betrayed him had given them a token: A "token" is a concerted signal--one agreed upon by two parties. In the shadowy darkness of the garden, the only light provided in the midst of the trees is the moon, torches, and lanterns carried by the mob (John 18:3). There has to be some method of making a positive identification of Jesus.

saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: Judas takes the initiative and proposes that the signal he will use to identify Jesus is a kiss. Scholars agree the kiss is the customary way of greeting a Rabbi. Today, in some parts of the world, a kiss is the customary method of greeting a friend and is a symbol of affection.

take him, and lead him away safely: The Amplified Bible says, "Seize Him [immediately] and lead Him away safely--so as to prevent His escape." Judas’ part in the arrest is over when He identifies Jesus, but he offers some advice to the arresting officers anyway. Judas’ words reveal careful thought about the plan and a desperate desire for it to be successful. He has his money, but he probably feels that he would not be allowed to keep it if his plan to deliver Jesus fails.

Verse 45

And as soon as he was come, he goeth straightway to him, and saith, Master, master; and kissed him.

And as soon as he was come, he goeth straightway to him: Judas wastes no time. As he arrives at Gethsemane, leading the mob that has come to make the arrest, he immediately approaches Jesus.

and saith, Master, master: The name "Master" is also translated "Rabbi" and is the name Judas has used for so long in addressing Jesus.

and kissed him: "Kissed" is from kataphileo and means "an affectionate, fervent kiss" (Wuest 269). The word implies the kiss of Judas is not just a formal kiss of greeting but it is a very demonstrative one. It is probable Judas also embraces Jesus to prevent movement while kissing Him repeatedly or fervently. Such terrible irony that Judas uses two gestures of great respect and affection--the title "Rabbi" and the kiss--to betray Jesus to His enemies! Mark says nothing about Jesus’ rebuke of Judas, but Matthew reports, "And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come?" (26:50); and Luke adds, "But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?" (22:48).

Verse 46

And they laid their hands on him, and took him.

The arrest is made without any resistance on Jesus’ part. John’s fuller account makes it clear that before Jesus is arrested, He demonstrates His power over His captors, proving that He voluntarily surrenders Himself to them (John 10:11; John 10:15).

Verse 47

And one of them that stood by drew a sword, and smote a servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.

And one of them that stood by: Matthew adds, " of them which were with Jesus..." (26:51), and John names the man as "Simon Peter" (18:10). In the scuffle no one sees who strikes the blow, and Mark apparently believes it to be best at the time of his writing to conceal the assailant’s identity. Many scholars believe the reason John is the only one of the evangelists to name Peter as the assailant of Malchus, is that his gospel is written late enough (forty years later) that no punishment could be executed on Peter.

drew a sword, and smote a servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear: John, again, is the only one of the gospel writers who gives this man’s name as "Malchus." Malchus is probably the first one to lay hands on Jesus; and Peter, true to character, impulsively reacts by drawing his knife and striking him. Peter does not stop to consider the consequences of his rash action nor the good it would do against such insurmountable odds. Matthew records Jesus’ sharp rebuke of Peter:

Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? (26:52-54).

Luke adds that Jesus touches Malchus’ ear and heals him (22:51).

Verse 48

And Jesus answered and said unto them, Are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and with staves to take me?

The word "answered" does not mean Jesus is answering a verbal question but rather that He is answering their action, their manner of arresting Him. Jesus is indignant over being arrested as though He is a dangerous bandit. The armed mob, making its approach under the cover of darkness, implies Jesus is a dangerous threat.

Verse 49

I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took me not: but the scriptures must be fulfilled.

I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took me not: Jesus has been available for arrest for several days before the Passover. He has taught in the temple for three consecutive days that very week. Jesus’ words skillfully reveal the cowardice of the Sanhedrin in not arresting Him openly in the temple earlier that week.

but the scriptures must be fulfilled: They do not arrest Jesus then in order that the scriptures might be fulfilled. The treachery of Judas, the secrecy of the arrest, are fulfillments of prophecy such as, "...he was numbered with the transgressors..." (Isaiah 53:12).

Verse 50

And they all forsook him, and fled.

The flight of the disciples fulfills the prophecy Jesus has just made in verse 27. Nestle’s Text shows that the "all" comes at the end of the statement with emphasis: "and leaving Him they fled--all of them." It becomes obvious Jesus is not going to use His miraculous power to resist the multitude; so after Peter strikes one futile blow, all of the disciples flee; not just the three who are with Jesus in Gethsemane, but the other eight also flee.

Verse 51

And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him:

And there followed him a certain young man: Mark is the only one of the gospel writers who records this incident, and many scholars believe the reason is that the young man described here is Mark himself. John refers to himself in a similar manner (third person) on several occasions where there can be no mistake that he is speaking of himself. It is possible that Jesus and His disciples have observed the Passover in the home of Mark, the son of Mary (Acts 12:12), and that Mark has followed Jesus and His disciples to the Garden. Lane says the word for "young man" (neaniskos) is used in the LXX, the Jewish Apocrypha, and Josephus to designate "young men who are exceptionally strong and valiant, or faithful and wise;" and thus, the point of this brief story is to emphasize that all fled--"even a valiant young man who intended to follow him" (527-528).

having a linen cloth cast about his naked body: The expression "linen cloth" (sindona) can refer to an article of clothing such as a nightgown (Marshall 207), or it can refer to a rectangular sheet of fine linen that could be wrapped around the body as a shroud. It is probably the latter since the young man is able to discard it easily when those in the multitude try to arrest him. Bruce says:

This suggests that the youth, on hearing some sudden report, rose out of his bed and rushed out in his night-shirt, or, being absolutely naked, hurriedly threw about his body a loose cotton or linen sheet (Expositor’s Greek New Testament 441).

and the young men laid hold on him: Marshall translates this phrase, "And they seize him" (207).

Verse 52

And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.

This incident is reminiscent of Joseph’s flight from Potiphar’s wife, who "caught him by his garment...and he left his garment in her hands and fled..." (Genesis 39:12). This young man’s:

...would-be captors grabbed him and would have captured him had it not been for his amazing dexterity shown in disengaging himself, in a flash, from his linen cloth, shirt, sheet, or whatever it was (Hendriksen 602).

Verse 53

And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes.

And they led Jesus away to the high priest: The arresting party follows Judas’ advice and binds Jesus first (John 18:12) to ensure against His escape. John also reveals they first take Jesus to the house of Annas, the former high priest. Annas has been the high priest (A.D. 7-14); but Pilate’s predecessor, Valerius Gratus, has deposed him. Although some of Annas’ loyal followers probably still think of him as the high priest, his son-in-law, Caiaphas, holds the official office at this time. It is probable, however, that Annas and Caiaphas live in the same palace (John 18:13-15).

and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes: In spite of the night hour, all of the Sanhedrin is assembled and ready. Matthew’s account pictures the court already in session when Jesus arrives. The false witnesses are also present and ready to testify. Everything has been carefully planned.

Verse 54

And Peter followed him afar off, even into the palace of the high priest: and he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire.

And Peter followed him afar off: The expression "afar off" means "at a distance." After fleeing when Jesus is arrested, Peter and another unnamed disciple, probably John (John 18:15), regroup and begin to follow, at a safe distance, the band that is leading Jesus to the palace of the high priest.

even into the palace of the high priest: The word "palace" is aulen and means "courtyard." "It is the court, the open court or hall, forming the center of an oriental building, and often used as a meeting-place" (Vincent 78). After Jesus has been taken inside the palace, Peter, with the help of a disciple who knows the high priest (probably John), gains admission to the courtyard through its outer gate.

and he sat with the servants: "Servants" is from hupereton and refers to attendants or servants of any kind; hence, Peter sits down with the palace servants and the temple guards (policemen). John describes Peter as standing (18:25), meaning he probably alternates between standing and sitting.

and warmed himself at the fire: Jerusalem is 2500 feet above sea level, and the spring nights are cold. Consequently, when Peter comes into the courtyard and finds the servants of the high priest crowding around a charcoal fire (John 18:18) warming themselves, he joins them. Ordinarily, these servants would have already gone to their own homes by this hour, but the unusual meeting of the court accounts for their presence in the courtyard until daybreak (Lane 533).

Verse 55

And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none.

While Peter is sitting in the courtyard below (verse 66), Jesus is in one of the chambers above, standing before His accusers.

and the chief priests and all the council: The word "council" is from sunedrion and means a "sitting together" (Wuest 270).

The word here refers to the Sanhedrin, the great council of Jews at Jerusalem consisting of seventy one members, scribes, elders, prominent members of the high-priestly families, and the high priest, who was the president of the body (Wuest 270).

The word "all" (holon) implies this is a full meeting of the entire Sanhedrin court. The Roman rulers of Judea have given the Sanhedrin the power to try those important cases pertaining to the Jews. They also have given the Sanhedrin the power to pronounce the death penalty upon the guilty, providing the sentence is confirmed by the Roman procurator.

sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none: Matthew says they "sought false witnesses" (26:59). John shows that Caiaphas questions Jesus about His disciples and teaching first (18:19ff). Witnesses have been hustled into the informal hearing solely for the purpose of providing evidence on which Jesus could be condemned to death.

Verse 56

For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together.

For many bare false witness against him: Josephus says that in capital offenses, there had to be two witnesses providing unanimous testimony in order to condemn a person (97). There is certainly precedence for this procedure in the books of Moses (Deuteronomy 17:6; Deuteronomy 19:15; Numbers 35:30). Therefore, the proceedings against Jesus begin with the testimony of witnesses.

but their witness agreed not together: Literally translated, this phrase means "their testimony was not equal" (Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament 387). The witnesses’ charges do not correspond with each other on critical points. Lane points out that in the Jewish judicial procedure, the:

...witnesses functioned as the prosecution, they gave their evidence individually and verbally in the presence of the judges and the accused. If their respective depositions differed one from the other even in trivial details, they were inadmissible as evidence (533).

This point explains the failure of the false witnesses who testify against Jesus.

Verse 57

And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying,

Matthew says, "At the last came two false witnesses" (26:60). The conditions for the death penalty would be satisfied at last if these two false witnesses are consistent in their accusations.

Verse 58

We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.

It is remarkable that words spoken by Jesus three years before at the first Passover of His ministry are remembered now and used against Him in a perverted form. On the former occasion Jesus says, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John 2:19). John explains that Jesus is speaking of His body as a temple, not the temple of God in Jerusalem.

Verse 59

But neither so did their witness agree together.

The Amplified Bible renders this verse, "Still not even [in this] did their testimony agree." Mark does not explain the particular points of disagreement in the testimony of these two false witnesses but just says their statements do not tally.

Verse 60

And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?

And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing: Caiaphas rises up in the assembly, no doubt for dramatic effect, and tries to elicit a response from Jesus. In spite of the fact that all of the testimony given against Jesus has been unsuccessful, Caiaphas implies that Jesus’ silence is an indication of His guilt.

what is it which these witness against thee: Caiaphas asks, "What about all this evidence against you? This is a serious charge, and it certainly deserves an answer!" Caiaphas is trying to pressure Jesus into making some response to the previous testimony that they can twist and use against Him.

Verse 61

But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?

But he held his peace, and answered nothing: Jesus’ silence fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 53:7, "...He opened not His mouth..." There are several reasons for Jesus’ refusal to answer. In the first place, they have no right to take Him prisoner, to hold court at night, or to use false witnesses. Secondly, all of the testimony given against Him has failed, so there is no reason to answer. Jesus would, in essence, validate their behavior if He responds to them.

Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him: Matthew says Caiaphas put Jesus under oath with the words, "I adjure thee by the living God" (26:63). Perjury is a crime under the Jewish law, but refusal to answer is tantamount to a denial.

Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed: The expression "Son of the Blessed" is equal to "Son of God" (Matthew 26:63). There are some among the Jews who believe the Messiah would be the Son of God (Enoch 105:2; John 1:49; John 11:27; Matthew 16:16); however, there are many others who see no connection between the two. There are some who feel the Messiah would just be a "man among men" (Justin Martyr, Vol. I 219). For that reason, it is much more important for Caiaphas’ purposes to get Jesus to admit to the title "Son of God." If Jesus would admit to that title, then the Sanhedrin could establish a charge of blasphemy against Him.

Verse 62

And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

And Jesus said, I am: This is the first time in Mark that Jesus publicly declares in definite and unveiled language His identity. To the terse, pointed question of Caiaphas, "Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?" Jesus replies just as directly, "Yes, I am!" Matthew’s parallel account has "Thou hast said" (26:64), which is the equivalent of saying, "Yes, I am the Messiah."

and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven: The expressions by Jesus, "sitting on the right hand of power" (Psalms 110:1) and "coming in the clouds of heaven" (Daniel 7:13), are Old Testament expressions that Caiaphas and the others know refer to the Messiah. In addition, Jesus’ words are a solemn warning that one day the roles will be reversed, and He will be passing judgment upon them.

Verse 63

Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses?

Then the high priest rent his clothes: The high priest’s action is translated from diarregnumi and means to "tear asunder" (Wuest 273). Originally, the tearing of garments was a spontaneous sign of mourning or grief, first mentioned in Genesis 37:29. Eventually, it becomes a formal expression of grief, "more formal than our wearing of black" (Plummer 338). The high priest is not permitted to rend his clothes for his own grief (Leviticus 10:6; Leviticus 21:10); however, when he is acting in an official capacity before the council, he is required to rend his clothes in protest of any testimony he considers blasphemous. Bickersteth adds:

The Jewish tunic was open under the chin, and large enough to receive the head, so that it could easily be placed over the shoulders, by inserting the head. When the wearer wished to give this sign of indignation or grief, he would seize the garment at this opening with both hands, and violently tear it asunder down to the waist (Vol. II 238).

To claim for Himself prerogatives belonging only to God (Psalms 110:1; Daniel 7:13), Jesus places Himself in the position of either actually being "the Son of God" or else being guilty of blasphemy. Caiaphas emphatically concludes Jesus is guilty of blasphemy.

and saith, What need we any further witnesses: Kittel says:

...the high priest cried out in relief, for this blasphemy in the very ears of his fellow-members on the council made it unnecessary to proceed by the method of proof by witness, hitherto attempted in vain (Vol. IV 489).

Caiaphas is saying, "We do not need to look any further for witnesses, for we are all witnesses! We all heard his blasphemy with our own ears!"

Verse 64

Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death.

Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye: No one mentions investigating Jesus’ claims, but everyone acts as though it is a foregone conclusion that Jesus is guilty. Therefore, the question "What think ye?" has reference to the appropriate penalty for such "blasphemous" words. Caiaphas is asking the council, "What treatment do you think He should receive?"

And they all condemned him to be guilty of death: All who are present at the council are unanimous in their verdict that Jesus is worthy of death. It is probable that Joseph (Luke 23:51) and Nicodemus (John 7:50 ff) are not present. They have been opposed to the whole plot against Jesus and are probably not called to the meeting. Death by stoning is the penalty for blasphemy (Leviticus 24:16; 1 Kings 21:10 ff; John 10:30 ff), but even though the council members render a unanimous verdict, they cannot carry out the sentence (John 18:31; also see Mark 15:1).

Verse 65

And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands.

And some began to spit on him: There is some uncertainty as to whom "some" refers. If the word is meant to be contrasted with the "all" previously mentioned, the reference is to the Sanhedrin itself. In other words, some but not all of the members of the Sanhedrin spit on Jesus. Ellicott and others believe Luke 22:63 attributes the mocking, beating, and blindfolding to "the men who held Jesus," the underlings, and not the actual members of the Sanhedrin itself (239). In all probability, both views are correct, with some of the Sanhedrin abusing Jesus and then later, the officers, "emboldened by the conduct of their superiors," (Swete 361) adding their own form of insult. This action fulfills the prophecy in Isaiah 50:6, "I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting."

and to cover his face: This phrase is from perikaluptein autou to prosopon and means they "blindfolded him."

and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy: Matthew’s account reads, "Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?" (26:68). They blindfold Jesus and then sarcastically challenge Him to use His powers as a prophet to identify His assailants. "Buffet" is from kolaphizo and means "to strike with the fist," thus "to pummel" (Wuest 275).

and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands: The word "servants" is better translated "officers." In addition to pummeling Jesus with clinched fists, the officers also slap Him with the open palms of their hands. Isaiah has a vision of the effects of the cruel and brutal treatment that the Messiah would receive and says, "...his visage was so marred more than any man..." (52:14). Wuest quotes a footnote in the Scofield Bible as saying:

The literal rendering is terrible: "So marred from the form of man was His aspect that His appearance was not that of a son of man"--in other words, not human--the effect of the brutalities described in Matthew 26:67-68 (274).

Verse 66

And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest:

While Jesus is being tried and abused in an upper room of the palace, Peter is still in the courtyard below. The maid who approaches Peter could have been the one who kept the door (John 18:16-17). From the time that this woman admits John and Peter into the courtyard, she is probably suspicious of Peter. She knows John is a disciple of Jesus because she is acquainted with him; and the fact that Peter is with John is an indication that he, too, is a disciple of Jesus (note in the next verse the phrase, "thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth").

Verse 67

And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth.

And when she saw Peter warming himself: She could see Peter’s features more distinctly in the light of the fire.

she looked upon him: This phrase is from emblepsasa autoi and means "to gaze at intently." She studies Peter’s face.

And said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth: The woman knows that Peter is a stranger to the high priest’s palace, but her careful inspection of him enables her to recognize him. It is also possible that Peter’s intense interest in, and sympathy for, the man being tried in the room above contribute to giving him away. Finally, the woman approaches Peter and says, pointedly, "You were with Jesus of Nazareth, too!" Her remarks apparently are calculated to embarrass and unsettle Peter (Lane 541).

Verse 68

But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew.

But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest: Matthew says, "But he denied before them all..." (26:70). Peter, startled by the girl’s sudden accusation, denies her charge. His denial is as strong and clear as possible, "I neither know, nor understand what you are talking about."

And he went out into the porch: The word "porch" is proaulion and refers to "the vestibule extending from the outside gate to the court" (Vincent 122). The servant girl’s assertion makes Peter extremely uncomfortable. If the temple guards or palace servants are made aware of his presence, they would probably grab him and make him a prisoner. In an effort to make himself less conspicuous, Peter leaves the courtyard and enters the vestibule that leads to the outside gate.

and the cock crew: Jesus has predicted only a few hours before that Peter would deny Him three times before the rooster crows twice. The rooster crows now immediately after the first denial.

Verse 69

And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them.

Matthew says "another maid" sees Peter near the vestibule (26:71). After being embarrassed by the first woman’s accusation, Peter tries to leave the courtyard; but as he approaches the gate, another portress (female gatekeeper) spots him and says to those standing around, "This man is one of them; he was with Jesus the Nazarene!"

Verse 70

And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto.

And he denied it again: Again Peter denies he knows Jesus. Matthew adds that Peter includes an oath (26:72). Apparently, Peter turns back toward the courtyard after being recognized by the gatekeeper.

And a little after: Luke says that an hour elapses (22:59).

they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto: An hour has elapsed since Peter’s first denial, and news of Peter’s presence in the courtyard has been spreading to others, including the temple guards and servants. Now those who have been standing around the fire with Peter begin to accuse him of being Jesus’ disciple, citing Peter’s Galilean accent as proof. Ellicott explains:

The Galilean patois was probably stronger when he spoke under the influence of strong excitement. It was said to have, as its chief feature, a confused thick utterance of the guttural letters of the Hebrew alphabet, so that they could not be distinguished from each other, and the change of Sh into Th (240).

John reveals this third attack on Peter is clinched by a relative of Malchus, who blurts out, "Did I not see you in the garden with him?" (18:26).

Verse 71

But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak.

Peter is scared and agitated now and begins to call down curses upon himself and swear he does not know Jesus. Today, the words "curse" and "swear" usually are understood to mean the use of profanity, but that is not the case here. The word "curse" is from anathematize, and the meaning is "May God curse (strike me dead, punish, etc.) if I am not telling the truth" (Wuest 275). The word "swear" is to put oneself under oath. It is a common Jewish practice to swear "by Heaven" or by "the Temple."

Verse 72

And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.

And the second time the cock crew: All four accounts of the gospel note how quickly upon Peter’s third denial that the rooster crows. Mark alone records the first crowing (verse 68).

And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice: Apparently Peter is so preoccupied with trying to remain anonymous at the time of the first rooster-crowing that it does not register with him. The second crowing registers upon Peter with sledgehammer impact, however, because at the very moment the rooster crows, Jesus is looking straight into Peter’s eyes (Luke 22:61). It is probable that at this moment the trial has ended and Jesus is being led from the hearing chamber across the courtyard to a holding cell to await His next appearance before the court in a few hours. As the rooster crows the second time, Peter looks up and sees Jesus’ face--probably still bloody, bruised, and swollen from the savage beating He has received--and remembers Jesus’ predictive warning.

And when he thought thereon, he wept: Peter ponders what Jesus has said and what he himself has done; he sees Jesus’ battered face with an expression of injured love for Peter, and he bursts forth in tears. Matthew says, "And he went out, and wept bitterly" (26:75). The word implies a long and continued weeping.

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Bibliographical Information
Editor Charles Baily, "Commentary on Mark 14". "Contending for the Faith". 1993-2022.