Chapter 44

Gethsemane
Mark 14:32-52

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32 Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 And He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be troubled and deeply distressed. 34 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.” 35 He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. 36 And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” 37 Then He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour? 38 “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 Again He went away and prayed, and spoke the same words. 40 And when He returned, He found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy; and they did not know what to answer Him. 41 Then He came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough! The hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 “Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”

43 And immediately, while He was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. 44 Now His betrayer had given them a signal, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him and lead Him away safely.” 45 As soon as He had come, immediately he went up to Him and said to Him, “Rabbi, Rabbi!” and kissed Him. 46 Then they laid their hands on Him and took Him. 47 And one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. 48 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? 49 “I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” 50 Then they all forsook Him and fled. 51 Now a certain young man followed Him, having a linen cloth thrown around his naked body. And the young men laid hold of him, 52 and he left the linen cloth and fled from them naked. 

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Mark 14:32-42
Jesus prays as his disciples sleep

Jesus leads His disciples to the garden of Gethsemane, asking most of them to sit there while He goes to pray with Peter, James, and John. He is troubled and distressed, sharing that His soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Intensely aware of the horror of His impending separation from God the Father, He must carry our sins in His body on the cross and bear eternity’s concentrated punishment for them in our place so we can be forgiven. He, the Eternal One in pure humanity, must soon face death itself for us.

Leaving Peter, James and John, He asks them to Watch, which obviously includes prayer. He goes further, alone. In His humanity—even though sinless, righteous and fully surrendered to the Father’s will—He asks if it is possible to avoid what is coming. He knows His Father can do anything. But, even in asking for the removal of His cup of punishment and suffering, He adds nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will. Twice He returns to find the three disciples asleep. Twice He asks them to watch and pray, just for an hour. He understands their willing spirit but their weak flesh. How can they now answer Him—perhaps recalling their earlier rashly promised allegiance? Jesus returns the third time. But they still sleep. Jesus draws this sad episode to a close. Unsupported in prayer by those closest to Him, He leads them to meet His betrayer, Judas, and the hostile mob.

Christians often fail to pray earnestly or long enough. We would fail less if we corrected that. Yet He loves and understands us, knowing our failures. We are weak. We need to ask His help and strength to pray more meaningfully to Him each day.

Mark 14:43-52
Betrayed!

Jesus’ enemies dare not take Him in daylight. They fear the crowd will attack them. But taking Him in the dark risks getting the wrong person. The New Testament records that Jesus escaped from previous attempts, once by simply walking through them! It was not then the right time for Him to die on the cross.[1] So Judas’ evil task is to greet Jesus with the customary token kiss, thus identifying Him to the watching armed mob, wickedly motivated by the chief priests, scribes and elders. He salutes Jesus with Rabbi! Rabbi! He kisses Him, as planned. The mob now apprehends Jesus. He asks why they have come armed. He is no robber. They did not take Him earlier when He was daily with them in the temple. He stands firm however, and declares But the Scriptures must be fulfilled. He knows how and why He must die, though innocent.

All His disciples now flee—including one who earlier severed the ear of Malchus, the high priest’s servant. (John’s Gospel identifies that disciple predictably as Peter. Luke records that Jesus heals Malchus’ ear immediately.[2]) In shame Mark admits fleeing away naked. His Master’s captors grabbed him by the linen cloth he wore. He left it in their hands and fled. Jesus is betrayed and forsaken by those He has loved and taught. May we who trust Jesus now ask for grace not to follow their poor example?

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[1]   .   Read John 8:59, John 7:30; John 7:44 and compare them with John 18:6 when it is so obvious that Jesus clearly had the power to overcome those who arrested Him. He did not exercise that power because His time to die on the cross was beckoning.
[2]   .  John 18:10; Luke 22:51.

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Questions on Chapter 44
Mark 14:32-52 Gethsemane.

A. Why do you think that Jesus is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death? What kind of things do you think would be in His mind based on His words elsewhere in Mark’s Gospel?   Mark 14:34   Mark 10:32-34   Luke 14:41-42

B. Why are the disciples sleeping instead of praying? What should be your attitude about spending quality time in prayer?  Mark 13: 37-42   1 Thessalonians 5:17   Luke 18:1   Philippians 4:6   Isaiah 40:31

C. Contrast the attitudes of Judas and Jesus. What part does the Bible play in the thinking of Jesus at this time?   Luke 14:43-46   Luke 14:48-49   Luke 14:49   Psalm 119:1-7