Mark 14 was read and discussed within the context of previous chapters where the religious leaders opposed Jesus because they thought he had an unsettling influence on the people and were looking for ways to catch him out. (Mark 3:6)
Mark 14:1-2 shows that the religious leaders were aware of the popularity of Jesus as a teacher and healer and realised that they could not accuse him when so many people were in Jerusalem for the Passover.
Mark 14:3-9 The devotion that Jesus inspired in those who listened to him was discussed and the way that Jesus uses the woman’s actions to explain what was going to happen to him. Anointing was a Jewish custom at feasts and the woman chose to do this as an expression of her devotion. While some of the disciples question her actions and would have preferred that the money had been given to the poor (another Passover custom) Jesus explains that she has prepared his body for burial indicating that his death was drawing near.
Mark 14:10-11 highlights the difference between the devotion of the woman and the self-interest and greed of Judas who was willing to betray Jesus for money.
Mark 14:12-16 Jesus instructs his disciples on the preparations he has made for the Passover and tells them to follow a man carrying a jar of water who will lead them to a room ‘furnished and prepared.’ It was noted that the man would have been easily identified because usually only the women carried water jars.
Mark 14:17-25 Jesus shares a last supper with his disciples warning that one of them would betray him. The reaction, by some of the disciples to this warning, was discussed. It was suggested that by asking the question –“Is it I?” – the disciples were aware of their own human failings and how easy it could be to do the wrong thing. It was noted that as we are asked to examine ourselves before breaking bread and drinking wine, the disciples examined themselves by asking the question before they shared the bread and wine with Jesus. We can all fail and need to break bread and drink wine in order to remember what has been done for us.
Mark 14:26-31 It was noted that Jesus refers to himself as the shepherd and warns his disciples that, like sheep, they will be run away without the his guidance. Peter and all the others are quite adamant that they would never run away (Mark 14 v 31).
Mark 14:32-42 The separation of the disciples was discussed with the suggestion that Peter, James and John were key witnesses to the teachings of Jesus and would eventually be instrumental in spreading the gospel news. It was noted that the inability of the disciples to stay awake and support Jesus as he suffered spiritual agony in the Garden of Gethsemane reminds us that we too need to ‘watch and pray’ in order not to be tempted away from our belief.
Mark 14:43-52 The question was asked – Why did the religious leaders come under cover of darkness? – The reason given was that they were afraid that the followers of Jesus, as well as many of the people, would fight on his behalf and cause an insurrection. It was pointed out that the religious leaders were not acting according to either Roman or Jewish law by arresting Jesus at night. It was also pointed out that Jesus would not have been recognisable in the darkness hence the need for Judas to identify him by a kiss. As Jesus had told the disciples they all ran away which reminds us that we can all give in to our human failings when put under pressure hence the need to ‘watch and pray.’
Mark 14:53-65 It was suggested that the arrest of Jesus by the religious leaders was opportunistic and not well-planned. This can be seen by the fact that they could only muster up false witnesses and others who could not agree about the details of what Jesus had said or done. It is only when they ask him the direct question – Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? – that they were able to accuse him of blasphemy. Like many people at that time they did not recognise the humble Galilean as the Messiah of the scriptures. It was also pointed out that the Scribes and Pharisees would lose their status if Jesus proclaimed himself Messiah and encouraged his followers to fight. After suffering spiritual agony, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus then has to face physical agony (Mark 14:65).
Mark 14:66-72 Peter learns a lesson in a painful way as he realises that Jesus knew how he would react. We are reminded that – ‘The spirit is truly ready, but the flesh is weak.’ (Mark 14:38)