The Passion of Christ – Part Six – Mark 14:1-72

 

Thus far in our consideration of The Passion of Christ we have seen Jesus’ passion flows from the love of God (Mark 9), Jesus’ passion for evangelism (Mark 10), Jesus’ passion for building faith (Mark 11), Jesus’ passion to give an answer (Mark 12) and Jesus’ passion for prophetic preparation and warning (Mark 13). In Mark 14 we see Jesus Passion to Press On.

 

As we study this portion of the passion of Christ we should do so in light of the following portion of Scripture:

 

  • Hebrews 12:1-3 – “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” [1]

These are verses which show us the passion of Jesus.  Jesus was willing to endure (Hebrews 12:2, 3) the cross joyfully because He knew what the cross would win and provide. Our salvation is free, but it is not cheap, it cost Jesus His life, His precious blood (1 Peter 1:18-19).

The word “endured” in Hebrews 12:2 and 3 are translated from the same New Testament Greek term Jesus used in Mark 13:13. Remember what was pointed out in our study of this previous chapter in Mark. We said that there, Jesus speaks of endurance saying, But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” We then said that the word “endure” is translated from the Greek term HUPOMENO (Strong’s #5278) meaning, “To stay under; remain under; have fortitude; persevere; endure patiently; abide; endure; and suffer.”   HUPOMONE is a word formed by joining the prefix HUPO to the term MENO. The preposition HUPO (Strong’s #5229) can mean, “by” or “under.” The word MENO is translated, “abide.” To “abide” (Strong’s #3306 – MENO) means, “to continue; abide; stay; dwell; be present; remain.” Therefore when you add the prefix HUPO to the term MENO you have the idea of continuing-under/by; abiding-under/by; staying-under/by; dwelling-under/by; remaining-under/by. Another way of saying this is that Jesus pressed on, no matter what.

 

The word “joy,” which is used to describe the attitude of Jesus’ enduring, is translated from the Greek term CHARA (Strong’s # 5479). Joy is not happiness. Someone has said, happiness depends on happenings; joy depends on Jesus. In other words happiness is dependent on things going right for you. But joy is an attitude of the heart that transcends circumstances. Joy is predicated on and dependent upon a faith that looks beyond circumstances. Furthermore, this word CHARA is a word akin to another Greek term, CHARIS (Strong’s #5485) which is translated “grace.” Grace is God’s undeserved favor and provision. What does this therefore mean regarding the attitude of Jesus when He endured the cross? It means Jesus saw the provision of the grace of God for lost humanity in His cross and with this in mind and heart, He joyfully endured, He pressed on no matter what.

 

What Jesus did becomes all the more incredible and gracious when we consider the cost of our salvation. When we look at the Old Testament we see more details about what Messiah Jesus endured. Jesus knew the Scriptures and He therefore knew He would soon die and the death He would suffer would be the cruelest and hardest of any person in history. In Isaiah it describes the death Jesus was to endure and suffer stating:

 

  • Isaiah 52:14 – “Just as many were astonished at you, So His visage was marred more than any man, And His form more than the sons of men;”  [2]

Just as it states, “His visage was marred more than any man,” His death would be the most significant of any man. Jesus, as we have seen throughout our study of Mark, was a Master of the Word. He knew His prophecy and certainly knew who He was and the redemptive work He was to accomplish at the cross. Certainly He was familiar with such passages as that of Isaiah 53 which explains prophetically His gospel mission:

  • Isaiah 53:1-12 – “Who has believed our report?  And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him.3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.4 Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.8 He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.9 And they made His grave with the wicked—But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth.10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities.12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.”  [3]

As we read this passage we see the heart of the gospel predicted. When we look at the final chapters of Mark, we see the gospel purpose and passion fulfilled. Jesus knew He was to die a tortured death at the hands of malicious and sinfully evil people and He still pressed on in His mission. That is the passion of Christ!

Called to Endure

In Hebrews 12:1 we are called to endure when it states, “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us . . . .”  These first three verses of Hebrews 12 contain the key to enduring in our walk with the Lord. Let’s look at them and see if the Lord won’t open them up for us.

The first thing we need to recognize is that Hebrews twelve follows Hebrews chapter 11. In Hebrews 11 we have the Hall of Faith. Much like we have Halls of Fame in sports, the Bible has a Hall of Faith where a summary list of people from the Bible who were exemplary in their faith. But the key thing to note here is that their faith enabled them to endure. The purpose of faith is to enable us to live lives pleasing to the Lord (Hebrews 11:6). It is faith that enables a person to endure because faith is the “substance of things hoped for,” (Hebrews 11:1) it is the ground or foundation that provides a path from the present to the future. Moving from the present to the future is what we call enduring. Faith is the “evidence of things not seen,” it enables us rise above doubt, emotional stresses, depression etc., and press on. But how do we practically press on and endure? This is where Hebrews twelve comes in.

First, understand that God will help us endure just as He helped those in the Hall of Faith chapter. Hebrews 11 has a long list of those who pressed on and endured in their faith even when buffeted and torn by trials and hardships of various types. The testimonies of the faithful ones in the Hall of Faith are very impressive and awe inspiring. But Hebrews 12:1a starts out by saying, “Therefore we also, . . .” which tells us there is a way to follow in the  enduring footsteps of these giants of the faith.

Second, the key to enduring begins by laying aside every weight, and the sin that so easily ensnares us (Hebrews 12:1b). To endure you have to travel light. Don’t allow excess baggage to weigh you down. Prioritize your life with heavenly priorities and don’t allow yourself to be ensnared or tangled up in the sins of the world.

Third, to endure we need to “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 11:1c). Someone has said that in order to win a race you have to be in it to win it. You can’t just drift to the side or get off course, you have to stay on track and run “the race that is set before us.” Get in to the action, jump into the fray with both feet. Serve the Lord in some way! Faith by its very nature and definition is an action. Faith that is alive is not stagnant but active (see James 2:14-26). Faith actively endures. And also, we should focus on the “race set before us,” in other words you can’t run a future race or a past race, but only the one in the present. Jesus told us not to worry about tomorrow because today has enough problems of its own (Matthew 6:34). Paul was inspired to tell us to forget what lays behind us in our past (Philippians 3:13). You don’t endure by dwelling on past victories or defeats or by worrying about future races or opponents, you endure by keeping your focus right. And what is the right focus and the most important aspect of enduring in our faith?

Fourth, to endure the most important thing is to keep our eyes on Jesus. Hebrews 12:2a states, “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, . . .” There is something transformational that takes place in the one who fixes their gaze on Jesus. You see when we try to endure without fixing our eyes on Jesus, we begin to look at those around us and that can be bad. We begin to wonder if we measure up to others or if they measure up to us. If we take our eyes off Jesus and look to our self, we begin to wonder why we aren’t getting the recognition we think we deserve for all the sacrifices and hard work we are doing as we endure in our faith. The easiest way to get sidetracked and in a ditch  that will threaten our enduring is to get our eyes off of Jesus. When we look at Jesus, when we fix our eyes on Him, when we fix our gaze of faith on Jesus, everything is put in its proper place. As we look at Jesus we realize Who we are serving and who we are not serving (Colossians 3:17, 23-24). Yes, this is the major key and why in verse three it states, For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls” (Hebrews 12:3). When we keep our eyes on Jesus we thwart the temptation to be discouraged or depressed. When we keep our eyes on Jesus we learn how and why we are enduring. When we keep our eyes on Jesus our priorities fall into place and we stay on track.

Fifth, to endure we need to realize that Jesus victoriously has endured to the end ahead of us and for us (Hebrews 12:2). This truth paves the way for us to endure as more than a conqueror. Paul mentions that in Christ we are “more than a conqueror” (Romans 8:37). What does that mean? Well, a conqueror is a brave soldier who confidently goes into battle hoping he will survive and win the battle and war. There is some uncertainty with the mere conqueror. But someone who is more than a conqueror is someone who goes into the battle certain that the victory is theirs. Because Jesus endured and went to the cross before us, we can endure in His steps knowing nothing can separate us from Him (Romans 8:38-39). Because Jesus went to the cross and paid the penalty for our sins are graciously forgiven. The security we have in the finished work of Jesus enables us to endure with a certainty that the victory is ours in Christ (John 19:30). Which leads us to the final key to enduring.

Sixth, to endure we need the joy of the Lord (Hebrews 12:2). It says Jesus endured, “for the joy that was set before Him.” That is another key. Joy is not mere happiness. Happiness depends on happenings or circumstances. Joy depends on Jesus. Jesus endured in His redemptive mission to and through the cross with joy. Joy in this sense is the confident expectation that victory is secure. Jesus had it all under control and knew what His cross work would graciously provide for sinful humanity. Now our joy is not confident in ourselves but in Jesus. Jesus endured no matter what; no matter the betrayal; the false accusations; the mocking; the beating; the trial and hardship; the injustice; He endured it all. He endured because He knew God was in control and nothing would befall Him that was beyond the will of God. That is the joy set before Him. In the same way we can endure with joy in that we know that nothing is going to befall us that God has not allowed and if He has allowed it He will also provide help to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13). Furthermore, we endure because the issue of our relationship with Jesus is settled in our hearts. Leaving or forsaking or giving up is not an option. The only option is finishing well, and we will if our joy is in the Lord, if we keep our eyes fixed on Him.

Pressing on with the cross of Jesus

Jesus was willing to pick up His cross, to die to press on to completion in His mission. This is the example Jesus set for His followers. The Master disciple-maker Jesus, said:

  • Mark 8:34 (Matthew 16:24) – “When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”  [4]

You see, the aim of God is that those who are saved by Jesus and follow Jesus, be conformed to His likeness. We see this purpose stated in Romans too where it says:

  • Romans 8:29 – “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”  [5]

To be conformed to the likeness of Jesus means that we too be willing to die for Him. This is what we saw in the first half of our study in Mark and we see it here now in the second part of Mark’s gospel. Now understand, the follower of Jesus does not die to be saved; the follower of Jesus is willing to die for Jesus because our love for Him surpasses everything else, even our love of life.

 

In these final chapters of Mark we see the passion, the LOVE OF GOD at work in Christ compelling Him to press on. This love is the love Jesus spoke of when He spoke of the two greatest commandments in Mark 12 where He said:

 

  • Mark 12:29-31 – “Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.30 ‘And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.31 “And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”   [6]

In other words, just as Jesus lived out the two greatest commandments in His passion, so should we.

 

Paul was inspired to explain this too when he wrote:

 

  • 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 – “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”  [7]

When we see the perseverance of Jesus in His gospel mission, we are moved with loving appreciation (which the Spirit pours forth into us – Romans 5:5). Again we turn to Paul to see how God inspired him to testify to this sense of pressing on when he wrote:

  • Philippians 3:8-14 – “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” [8]

 

Paul’s words become all the more blessed and meaningful when we consider he pressed on though called upon by the Lord to endure a great deal of suffering throughout his life (Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:8-18; 11:23-12:10). Paul pressed on no matter what! That is the attitude of faith God desires for us.

Jesus knew He was to die, and die a grisly death. We may never be put to that test, but if we are (like so many other disciples in history and in our day in other parts of the world where persecution is severe), the love of Christ will work in us to give the ultimate offering to the Lord. That is the message and substance of the passion; love at work; love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8a); love presses on no matter what.

MARK THAT ACTION: Jesus pressed on no matter what, so should we. Jesus was not deterred by any of the events or actions brought against Him because He looked beyond the immediate circumstances and cost of what He was doing to the joyfully gracious prize. That is the attitude we should have too.

Jesus had a passion to press on even though His disciples had wrong priorities based on the wrong perspective

 

Mark 14:1-9 – “After two days it was the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take Him by trickery and put Him to death.2 But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar of the people.” 3 And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head.4 But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted?5 “For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her sharply.6 But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me.7 “For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always.8 “She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial.9 “Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” [9]

Think of what is happening here; those claiming to represent God are with premeditation plotting the demise the Holy One of God. The depth of their sin is seen in their cool and callous calculation to not arrange Jesus’ death during the feast, “lest there be an uproar of the people” (Mark 14:2).  Here we see the extreme opposite of the love of Christ and His followers. While the disciple is compelled by God’s love to the extent that they love Jesus more than life; the hypocritical religious Pharisee loves life and the accolades of men, the position of authority over men, and the things of this world so much, that they are willing to murder (and in reality try to snuff  God out of their lives!)

Greedy Opposition to Costly Worship at Bethany 

During His final week before the cross, Jesus often spent time in Bethany at the house of Simon the Leper (Mark 14:3; Matthew 26:6). When we examine the parallel account in John’s gospel (John 12:1-8) we find that also living in this house were Mary, Martha and Lazarus, (who Jesus had raised from the dead). Simon the Leper was very possibly the father of these three. It was Mary who anointed Jesus with the costly oil (John 12:3). It was Judas who objected to this act of worship (John 12:4).

What do we learn from this account? First by looking here and at the parallel accounts (Mark 14:3-11; Matthew 26:6-13; John 12:1-8) we see that the oil poured on Jesus was costly (“300 denarii” or about a years wages – John 12:5). Here we see Mary, in the pouring of the oil on Jesus, pouring out her heart before the Lord in an act of costly worship. There is an important message for us here.

Notice, Jesus’ comments:

  • Mark 14:8 (Matthew 26:12) - “She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial.”  [10]

Jesus’ words seem to convey the idea that Mary was aware He was going to die. How could she know that? That is incredible because not even His closest disciples understood, despite His repeated teaching of it, that He was to die (Mark 8:31; 10:32-34). Of the disciples it states their only response was, “But there were some who were  indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted?” (Mark 14:4; Matthew 26:8). They just didn’t get it; even at this late stage of Jesus’ ministry and mission, they just didn’t understand that He was going to the cross to die and atone for sin. They were dull (Matthew 16:9, 11, 21-23). They were sorrowful at the words of Jesus about His predicted death (Matthew 17:22-23), but apparently they didn’t truly receive the impact of it.

Worship Opens the Window of Wisdom

Why did Mary seem to comprehend the significance of Jesus’ death and the disciples did not? Here is a truth; Mary comprehended the substance of Jesus mission and cross because of her close worshipful relationship with Jesus.  Coming close to Jesus in worship brings you in tune with His purposes and priorities. Worship opens the window of wisdom and understanding. The disciples were out of sync with the purposes and priorities of Jesus because they weren’t in a worshipful state before Jesus. If you want to comprehend the substance of Jesus purposes and have your priorities in line with Him, you need to worship at His feet. Worship brings our hearts in sync with His heart.

An example of this is found in Acts where disciples were commissioned and directed by the Spirit as they worshipped the Lord. In Acts it reads:

  • Acts 13:1-3 – “Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.”  [11]

To say, “As they ministered to the Lord,” is another way of saying that they were worshipping the Lord. It was in the context of their worship that the Spirit illuminated and directed them as to the next step in their ministry mission. Worship opens the door of our heart and mind to receive direction and insight into the way of the Lord.

MARK THAT ACTION: Mary had a heart to worship the Lord in a costly way and because of that she experienced spiritual insight that the stingy disciples were not privy too. We ought to cultivate an attitude of worship toward the Lord and He will give us guidance and great insight into His truth when we do.

Jesus had a Passion to Press on Even Though He Would Be Sold out for Money

Mark 14:10-11 - 10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Him to them.11 And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. So he sought how he might conveniently betray Him. [12]

When Jesus defied the material priorities of Judas by rebuking him before the other disciples for his misguided concern over the worth of the costly perfume, Judas came to the end of his act. Judas likely joined Jesus’ group because he saw the potential for attaining a position of power and influence. He probably soaked in the attention given one who was close to this miracle worker. When Jesus performed His miracles, and the people saw Judas close to Jesus, they must have cooed and envied Judas for his privileged position. Judas likely lived for that attention and fame. But the extravagant and expensive act of worship done by Mary to Jesus was just too much for him. In John’s account it tells us that Judas was a thief and was pilfering the money donated to Jesus’ ministry (John 12:6).

It isn’t that money in and of itself is sinful; it is that it is so often the means by which the greedy carry out their sin. In Paul’s letter to Timothy Paul is inspired to explain this:

  • 1 Timothy 6:9-10 – “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”  [13]

Money is not the problem; it is the greedy love of money that is the “root of all kinds of evil.”  Judas was a greedy thief in part because he likely enjoyed the power of spending and buying. He was simply out to serve himself by whatever means at his disposal, even if it was at the expense of Jesus’ life. Its true money can pervert the one whose priorities are in this world. Judas was unwilling to press on with Jesus, because his priorities were wrong and he wasn’t willing to count the cost of being a disciple.

MARK THAT ACTION: Judas put money before pressing on with Jesus and betrayed the Savior. Jesus had chosen Judas to be a close follower of His. This was a great privilege, but Judas trashed it for his love of money. We need to put Jesus first, even above money, and press on with Him.

Jesus Had a Passion to Press On Even Though the Disciple’s Faith Needed More Building

 

Mark 14:12-16 - 12 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they killed the Passover lamb, His disciples said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare, that You may eat the Passover?”13 And He sent out two of His disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him.14 “Wherever he goes in, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?” ’15 “Then he will show you a large upper room, furnished and prepared; there make ready for us.”16 So His disciples went out, and came into the city, and found it just as He had said to them; and they prepared the Passover.[14]

 

Here we see an incident and method of Jesus’ teaching similar to that when He made His entry into Jerusalem (Mark 11:1-6). Jesus gave instructions to His disciples which required they obey and demonstrate their faith and trust in Him. As the disciples obediently carried out Jesus instructions they learned again that Jesus could be trusted as they “found it just as He had said to them . . .”  

 

As the disciples found that Jesus’ word could again be trusted, their faith was further built up. The faith of the disciples was still in its infant stages. This did not deter Jesus. He pressed on even though the faith of the disciples needed much more building. He knew their faith would be tested but He pressed on in His mission. We can learn a lesson here. There comes a time when we have to entrust the faith development of others to God. There comes a time where people must walk by faith, a time when their faith is tested. Jesus shows us this truth here.

 

MARK THAT ACTION: As we saw in Mark 11, faith and obedience are intertwined and inseparable. Just as the disciples obeyed Jesus’ instructions, we should obey Him too. In so doing we will find that Jesus is reliable and faithful to His word and our faith will be built up. Furthermore, even though the faith of the disciples needed more building, Jesus pressed on in His passionate mission. Like Jesus, we need to trust God with the development of the faith of others.

 

The Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread

 

The Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread were two separate but concurrent holy days in the Jewish calendar (Mark 14:12; Matthew 26:17). Both of these holidays related to the Exodus out of Egypt of God’s people at the hand of God (Exodus 12; Leviticus 23:4-8). The Passover commemorated the meal eaten by God’s people during the night of the twelfth plague brought on Egypt where the Angel of Death killed the firstborn of the Egyptians. The Israelites were spared this plague by sacrificing a lamb, placing blood on the top, sides and bottom of their door posts. When the Angel of Death came throughout the land and saw the blood he would Passover their homes. The Feast of Unleavened Bread was a weeklong feast where only unleavened bread would be eaten to show the haste with which the Israelites left Egypt. The Passover meal occurred on the day before the seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread (Mark 14:12). The concurrent holy days consisted therefore of eight days.

Days under Jewish Law begin at sundown or around six o’clock in the evening (because that is the sequence in the Creation account – “So the evening and the morning were the first day” Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31). Our days go from midnight to midnight. The Passover meal of Jesus and the disciples likely started on our Wednesday at sundown or the beginning of Thursday in terms of the Jewish measuring of days. Passover day begins the fourteenth day of Nissan, the first month of the Jewish calendar and would have been from Wednesday sundown to Thursday sundown. At sundown on Thursday the Feast of unleavened Bread would begin and because of the feast the Sabbath would be a high Sabbath during the feast (John 19:31). 

Much has been made about whether or not Jesus was crucified on Thursday or Friday. A case can be made for both. This author believes there is more evidence for a Thursday crucifixion than for a Friday crucifixion. The Friday time is proposed because of the reference to Jesus dying near the Sabbath (Luke 23:56; John 19:31). But John (John 19:31) explains that the Feast of Unleavened Bread beginning after the Passover Day, created a situation where the first day of the Feast of unleavened Bread was a “high Sabbath.” If Jesus were crucified on Thursday, it allows for a more complete fulfillment of His prediction that He would be in the tomb, “three days and three nights” (Matthew 12:40; 26:61; 27:40, 63; Mark 8:31; 14:58; 15:29). There is Biblical evidence that a part of a day is considered a “day.” Jesus Himself said He would rise “in three days” implying to us three full days. But does this mean He would rise on the fourth day? Nowhere does it state that Jesus would rise on the fourth day.  In fact Jesus says specifically that He would rise “on the third day” (Matthew 16:21; John 2:19-22). It is likely therefore that when the phrase, “three days” is used it is an idiom that includes parts of a day as being accepted as a “day.” Evidence for such a view is found in the Pharisees asking for a guard to be posted “until the third day” (Matthew 27:63-64). If the Pharisees held to the three complete days they would have requested the guard to be placed on the fourth day. (See also Genesis 42:17 and 1 Samuel 30:12-13 for idiomatic uses of “three days.”) The important thing to remember is that Jesus died and rose again just as He said He would!

The Passover

The exact location of where Jesus ate celebrated the Passover is not indicated in the gospels other than it was in Jerusalem (Mark 14:13 – “the city” - Matthew 26:18). Jesus likely celebrated the Passover in a house where someone probably acknowledged Him as Messiah. The disciples followed Jesus’ instructions and prepared the Passover and then Jesus sat down with the disciples to eat the Passover meal (Mark 14:17-21; Matthew 26:19-20). Of this meal pastor/teacher Chuck Smith comments:

 

In the Passover there were several necessary ingredients to observe this feast. First of all, there was the cup of the Kiddush, which means sanctification or separation. The head of the family took the cup and he prayed over it and then he drank of it and then it was shared among the group. The Passover meal itself was  . . . [eaten while] reclining on the floor. [T]hey ate, leaning on their left elbow, eating with their right hand. That was the customary way of eating in those days. They did not have dinnerware, they did not have silverware but they usually ate with their hands. That’s why there was so much washing of the hands. Three times during the Passover feast there would be the washing of the hands. It was carried out only by the person who was to celebrate the feast and three times he had to wash his hands in the prescribed way.

Then they would eat a piece of parsley or lettuce endive, which was dipped in a bowl of salt water. It was the appetizer to the meal but it was also very significant. The bitterness of the parsley or endive was to remind them of the hyssop bush that was used to sprinkle the blood on the doorpost. . . [The] salty water [was symbolic of] the tears that their fathers shed while in slavery in Egypt and of the salty waters of the Red Sea that God divided in order to bring them through.

Then there was the breaking of the unleavened bread; the meal had three loaves and the middle loaf broken. With the breaking of the bread a couple of prayers were offered. And then the youngest child is to ask the question, “What makes this night different from all nights?” . . . [Then] the eldest male member of the family would rehearse the story of God’s deliverance of their fathers out of Egypt and the Passover of the death angel. And then during the ceremony they would sing at this point Psalm 113 and 114. Now Psalm 113 to 118 are the Hallel psalms, the psalms of praise . . . .

. . . [T]hen they would take the second cup, . . . .  It’s called the cup of the Haggada, which is the explaining or proclaiming, as they had just rehearsed the story. Now all of those who are present wash their hands in preparation for the actual meal and then they say grace, which was “Blessed art Thou O Lord our God who brings forth the fruit of the earth. Blessed art Thou O God who has sanctified us with Thy commandment and enjoined us to eat unleavened cakes. And they would then distribute small portions of the bread.

[T]hen they would have these bitter herbs and they were placed between two pieces of unleavened bread and then dipped in the Karosheth, which was a mixture of dates and nuts which was to remind them of the mortar that was used on the bricks during their slavery. It was called the sap. This is what Jesus was referring to, he who dips in the sap with me, in the Karosheth takes at that time these two pieces of bread with the bitter herbs, dips them in the Karosheth, he who dips with me, the same is the one who will betray Me.

It was at this point in the meal that Jesus told the disciples that one of the inner twelve would betray Him (Mark 14:18; Matthew 26:21). They responded sorrowfully and began to ask Him who it was (Mark 14:19; Matthew 26:22).

Jesus had a Passion to Press on Even Though His Offer of Fellowship was Rejected by One of His Inner Core of Twelve Disciples

 

Mark 14:17-21 - 17 In the evening He came with the twelve.18 Now as they sat and ate, Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you who eats with Me will betray Me.”19 And they began to be sorrowful, and to say to Him one by one, “Is it I?” And another said,Is it I?”20 He answered and said to them, It is one of the twelve, who dips with Me in the dish.21 “The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had never been born.”  [15]

In the intimacy and warmth of an evening meal Jesus brought His inner core of twelve disciples together to partake of a holy meal. It was at this time that He gave a prophetic warning that one of them would betray Him.

 

Fear of Failing - “Is it I?”

When Jesus prophesied that He would be betrayed by one of the inner twelve disciples, it sent shock waves throughout the group. They responded by being “sorrowful,” and asking, Lord, is it I?” (Mark 14:19; Matthew 26:22 – “exceedingly sorrowful”). One commentator makes the following observation about this passage:

“In the original language, the question Lord, is it I? suggests that a negative answer was cautiously expected by each one, “It is not I, is it?” Coupled with Peter’s later defensive protest and subsequent failure, it seems clear that the entire group feared the possibility of failure. What a transformation would have to take place to change these cowards into the mighty apostles of the book of Acts!” [16]

These disciples were shaky and insecure at best. They were uncertain of their own hearts. What a difference the power of the Spirit will make in their hearts and lives when He comes upon them at Pentecost (Acts 2). How about you, are you concerned about how you would respond when put to the test? Do you wonder, “Lord, would I betray You? Lord, would I turn my back on You?” In the gospels the disciples all turned tail and ran when put to the test. In the book of Acts, not only did the disciples preach dynamically in the Spirit, but they did so in Jerusalem, the very place filled with the enemies of Christ and where Jesus was crucified.  The lack of confidence and courage seen in the disciples in the gospels is in stark contrast to the bold and courageous Spirit-filled apostles seen in Acts. Maybe you need to receive such an empowerment by the Spirit. That power is received by faith just as you received Jesus as your Savior (Acts 15:8-9). Why not seek Him now about that? It is only in the power of the Holy Spirit that we can ever hope to press on with Jesus (Luke 10:21; Acts 1:8; 4:31; 19:21; 20:22-24; Romans 8:9-18; Galatians 3:1-5; 5:16-24). The only cure for the fear of failing is the empowering of the Holy Spirit!

The dip of betrayal

Then Jesus said, “It is one of the twelve, who dips with Me in the dish.” (Mark 14:20; Matthew 26:23-24). In the culture of the Middle East, to eat together in this way had the effect of joining people together. As each person dipped into the common bowl of food, they shared particles and contact with one another and so an intimate bond took place. Eating together is of far more significance in the culture of the Middle East and certainly in the day of Jesus than it is in many other cultures. Therefore, here was the fulfillment of the bitterest betrayals in history. The betrayer dipped his hand with the hand of Jesus and in so doing identified himself as the culprit. And yet Jesus pressed on! In Matthew’s account Judas ventures to ask, “Is it I?” (Matthew 26:25) and Jesus acknowledges that it is him. Think of the nerve Judas had to ask if he was the one who would betray Jesus when he knew indeed that he was. Yet Jesus pressed on!

MARK THAT ACTION: The message of this meal is that even when faced with a defiant and heartless traitor, who bitterly betrays, Jesus pressed on in His mission. The disciples of Jesus should take note of this because everyone is betrayed at one point or another in life and the disciple needs to press on like the Master when it occurs (see Psalm 41:9; 55:12-14,20).  

 

Jesus Had a Passion to Press On to Provide a New Covenant by His Substitutionary Sacrifice

 

Mark 14:22-26 – “22 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”23 Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it.24 And He said to them, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.25 “Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”26 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” [17]

 

The Passover meal and all the Old Testament holidays and sacrifices carried a prophetic message intended by God to point to Christ. The Bible tells us this in the following verses:

  • Colossians 2:16-17 – “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths,17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.”  [18] (See also Hebrews 8:5; 10:1).

In the Passover we have the depiction of the sacrifice Lamb, Jesus, who was to come and give His life a ransom for the lost (John 1:29). Here Jesus teaches about the fulfillment of the Passover seen in Him. The church now celebrates the Passover with Jesus as the focus and calls it, “The Lord’s Supper,” or “Communion.” Jesus begins by taking unleavened bread breaking it and distributing it to the disciples saying, “Take, eat; this is My body” (Mark 14:22; Matthew 26:26). It is important that we rightly understand what Jesus is saying at this point.

Jesus took “the cup” and told the disciples to all drink from it (Mark 14:23; Matthew 26:27-29).  There were three cups used in the Passover meal. The one Jesus held now was likely the third cup known as “the cup of blessing.” Certainly Jesus fills up the cup of blessing with His redemptive work. He then says, “This is My blood of the new testament.” In the Old Testament covenants were sealed in blood (Exodus 24:8), which symbolized a commitment established with a life commitment (see Jeremiah 31 and Zechariah 9:11). Jesus then says, “which is shed for many” (Matthew’s account adds, for the remission of sins”). Here we have a clear reference to the substitutionary nature of the sacrificial atonement of Jesus on the cross (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). The New Testament or Covenant that Jesus was instituting was put in place by His pressing on to the point of His sacrificial death. As disciples, we are to continue celebrating the communion remembrance until Jesus returns to set up His millennial reign on earth, and they can “drink it new in the kingdom of God” (Mark 14:25).

After Jesus said these things, they all sung a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives (Mark 14:26; Matthew 26:30). Jesus led His disciples in worship. Worship and the Lord’s Supper are intertwined. The Lord’s Supper should never degenerate into a dead religious ritual but should always be partaken in the Spirit and truth of God (John 4:23-24).

Actual Transubstantiation or Symbol of the Lord’s Sacrifice?

The Roman Catholic Church views these words of Jesus offering the bread and wine  during the Communion service as turning them  into the actual body and blood of Jesus. This view is referred to as Transubstantiation. The KJV Bible Commentary makes the following well said comment here on this view:

This is my body. If the words of the Lord had intended to convey a transformation of the bread into His body they would have read, “This has become my body.” During the Passover feast the Jewish householder took bread in his hand and said, “This is the bread of affliction which our fathers ate in the land of Egypt,” meaning, of course, that the one represented the other. By His words the Lord changed the whole significance and emphasis of the feast from looking back to the typical redemption from Egypt to faith in the redemption from sin accomplished by His death. For a clear example of the use of the word “is” as “represents” . . . Galatians 4:25 . . .  states, “for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.”[19] The obvious interpretation is that Hagar is a symbol here]. The bread and wine were only outward symbols of our Lord’s death and a reminder to us of the cost of our redemption during our Lord’s absence (cf. Lk 22:19). Nothing in the Gospels indicates that these were to be viewed as a means of grace, sacraments, or that they were physically necessary for one’s salvation.[20]

When Jesus held up the unleavened bread and said it was “My body,” He was using the bread as a symbol, an object lesson in what He was to accomplish at the cross.

A New Testament/Covenant – A New heart

What Jesus did that night was foretold in the Old Testament. As we look at the passages which predicted this New Covenant we gain insight into its significance. In the Old Testament it states:

  • Jeremiah 31:31-37 - “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—32 “not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord.33 “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.34 “No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” 35 Thus says the Lord, Who gives the sun for a light by day, The ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, Who disturbs the sea, And its waves roar (The Lord of hosts is His name):36 “If those ordinances depart From before Me, says the Lord, Then the seed of Israel shall also cease From being a nation before Me forever.”37 Thus says the Lord: “If heaven above can be measured, And the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel For all that they have done, says the Lord.”  (See also Jeremiah 32:37-40)[21]

Jeremiah here is inspired to describe the New Covenant as an internal relationship with God whereby His Law is put in people’s minds and hearts. This is the result of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who enters the convert upon regeneration when they admit their sin and seek forgiveness for their sin by relying entirely on God’s grace and putting their faith and trust in the work of Jesus on the cross (not their own work) (Romans 8:11; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5).

The prophet Ezekiel also speaks of this New Covenant saying:

  • Ezekiel 36:26-28 - “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.27 “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.28 “Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.”  [22]

Herein is the key to the power of the New Covenant that comes by grace through faith in Jesus; the gospel of the New Covenant provides a new heart to the one who is saved. The heart of people is not reformable, or renovatable, it is only replaceable. When a person accepts Jesus as their Savior by putting faith in Jesus Himself and His finished work, a transformation takes place where our old fleshly and sinful heart is transplanted with a new spiritual heart. And all of this is made possible by Jesus who gave His body and poured out His blood on the cross as a substitutionary sacrifice. It was the pressing on to the end by Jesus that made the New Covenant a gracious available reality.

MARK THAT ACTION: Jesus gave His life a ransom for many; He completed the atoning work so that we would be freed from our own dead works. We should worship the Lord Jesus for His atoning sacrifice that provides us with a new heart filled with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus Had a Passion to Press on Even Though He Knew All His Followers Would Be Scattered

 

Mark 14:27-31 - 27 Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written:  1 ‘I will strike the Shepherd,  And the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 “But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”29 Peter said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be.”30 Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.”31 But he spoke more vehemently, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And they all said likewise.”  [23]

We can only imagine the bittersweet emotions Jesus had churning inside His heart as He entered into this holy meal with those who knew would forsake and even deny Him shortly. But all of this was predicted prophetically in the Old Testament (Isaiah 53: 5, 10; Zechariah 13:7). Jesus pressed on.

 

Luke is inspired to tell us that after Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper that the disciples got into an argument over who was the greatest (Luke 22:24-30). It is on the heels of this argument that Jesus tells the disciples that they will “all” betray Him and that Peter makes his boast that all of the other disciples may betray Him but he would not. Peter’s boast is the claim of an impulsive and proud person. There is no place in the heart of a disciple for pride and Jesus puts in place the means by which the proud air will be let out of Peters boastful balloon. It’s interesting, Peter could boast that he’d never betray Jesus even if it meant dying for Jesus, but he could not remain awake praying with Jesus in Jesus’ greatest time of need. Sometimes it is easier to die for Jesus than it is to live for Him (Mark 14:66-72; Matthew 26:36-38).

What you see here is that you can’t follow Jesus with your old heart. The Bible speaks of this New Covenant heart transplant further by speaking of a spiritual transfer that takes place described as becoming “a new creation.” We read about this in the following verse:

  • 2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”  [24]

Only when Peter and the other disciples had experienced this conversion transformation would they be able to be in sync with the Lord. Before their conversion what we see is a dull-witted, obtuse, misunderstanding, thick-headed, spiritually dead, non-comprehending, out of step, dense group of men who eventually fled for their lives when their Master and Savior was giving His life for them. After their conversion and their empowering by the Spirit, we find a spiritually acute, aware, perceptive, sensitive, courageous, bold, walking in the Spirit group of people who turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6). That is something only God can do in a person (Philippians 2:13). That is something that resulted from the perseverance and pressing on of Jesus.

MARK THAT ACTION: The disciples, especially Peter, tried to follow Jesus in their own strength with their old sinful hearts, but they would inevitably fail because of this. The only way to follow Jesus and remain true to Him is by receiving Him as Savior and receiving the new heart indwelled by the Holy Spirit promised under the New Covenant (Romans 6 and 8).

 

Jesus Had a Passion to Press On Even Though He Was Sorrowful Unto Death

 

Mark 14:32-42 - 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.”  [25]

Gethsemene,” means “olive press.” Jesus was pressed and yet pressed on to the limits in prayer in Gethsemane. Gethsemane is a quiet place with olive trees that have an ancient appearance. You see, it isn’t that Jesus feared death and was praying to avoid it. Many martyrs have given their lives confidently throughout history. But Jesus pressed on in prayer saying, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” (Mark 14:36; Matthew 26:39). Why did Jesus pray this way to the Father? The key to comprehending His concern is to understand this, “cup.”

Two cups

What is the meaning of “cup” here in Jesus’ prayer? When we look at the use of “cup” in the Bible, we see that beyond the mundane use of the cup as a drinking utensil, it holds great symbolic significance.

Cup,” (Greek POTERION – Strong’s #4221) when used figuratively, the cup itself is seen as a neutral entity used to figuratively pour out God’s allotment to a person whether good or bad. The cup is a figurative tool to administer God’s decision and will on someone.

Examples of the use of the cup to pour out negative aspects of God’s will toward someone are:

  • Psalm 11:6 – “Upon the wicked He will rain coals; Fire and brimstone and a burning wind Shall be the portion of their cup.”  (See Psalm 75:8) [26]
  • Isaiah 51:17 – “Awake, awake! Stand up, O Jerusalem, You who have drunk at the hand of the Lord The cup of His fury; You have drunk the dregs of the cup of trembling, And drained it out.” [27]
  • Jeremiah 25:15 – “For thus says the Lord God of Israel to me: “Take this wine cup of fury from My hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send you, to drink it.”  [28]
  • Ezekiel 23:32-34 - “Thus says the Lord God: ‘You shall drink of your sister’s cup, The deep and wide one; You shall be laughed to scorn And held in derision; It contains much.33 You will be filled with drunkenness and sorrow, The cup of horror and desolation, The cup of your sister Samaria.34 You shall drink and drain it, You shall break its shards, And tear at your own breasts; For I have spoken,’ Says the Lord God.” [29]
  • Zechariah 12:2 - “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem.”  [30]
  • Revelation 14:10 - “he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.”  [31]

Examples of the use of the cup to pour out positive aspects of God’s will on someone are:

  • Psalm 23:5 – “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.”  [32]
  • Psalm 116:13 – “I will take up the cup of salvation, And call upon the name of the Lord.”  [33]

In the New Testament the figurative use of cup is used most frequently in regards to the sufferings of Jesus. Examples of this are:

  • Mark 10:38-39 - 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”39 They said to Him, “We are able.” So Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized;”[34](Matthew 20:22-23).
  • John 18:11 – “So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?”  [35]

In Mark 14 (Matthew 26) we see Jesus use the cup in both a positive and negative way. At the Last Supper He uses the cup as a symbol of a New Covenant, a cup that is symbolically filled with His blood that would be shed for many (for the remission of sins):

  • Mark 14:23-24 – “23 Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it.24 And He said to them, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.” [36] (Matthew 26:27-28).

In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prays three times to the Father that if it is at all possible to let “this cup” pass from Him (Mark 14:36, 39, 41; Matthew 26:39, 42, 44).

A Cup of God’s wrath

The cup that Jesus refers to in Gethsemane is the cup filled with God’s wrath due to be justly poured out on the sinner as a penalty for sin. The cup Jesus prays to the Father to take from Him if at all possible is the cup of, “Fire and brimstone and a burning wind” (Psalm 11:6);  “The cup of His fury” (Isaiah 51:17); the, “cup of fury from My hand” (Jeremiah 25:15); the “cup of fury from My hand” (Ezekiel 23:33); the cup of trembling (Zechariah 12:2); and, “the cup of His indignation” (Revelation 14:10).  This is an incredibly important aspect of Jesus’ mission and unless he persevered in this part of it, we would be eternally lost. This is true because, THE CUP OF THE NEW COVENANT, THE CUP OF SALVATION (Psalm 116:13) IS ONLY POSSIBLE BECAUSE JESUS TOOK ON THE CROSS THE CUP OF GOD’S WRATH. THE ONLY REASON WE CAN RECEIVE THE CUP OF SALVATION AND DRINK FROM THE CUP OF THE NEW COVENANT IS BECAUSE JESUS TOOK THE CUP OF GOD’S WRATH ON THE CROSS AND SHED HIS BLOOD IN OUR PLACE.

The Propitiation

The prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane and the “cup” He seeks the Father’s will about is a very important part of the redemptive mission of Jesus. What we see here is Jesus seeking the Father’s will as to His propitiatory sacrifice. What does propitiation mean? We find propitiation mentioned in the book of Romans which states:

  • Romans 3:21-26 – “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference;23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”  [37]

The English word “Propitiation” is translated from the Greek term HILASTERION (- 2435. hil-as-tay´-ree-on). HILASTERIO refers to “expiation,” it is used to refer to “an atoning victim/sacrifice,” or, the lid of the Ark of the Covenant in the Temple, the “mercy seat.” A word similar to HILASTERION is used in Greek religion, which is HILASKOMAI  (2433).  The idea in Greek religion for this word was, “to make the gods propitious, to appease, propitiate.” Greek gods were capricious and were by nature not kindly inclined to their subjects. Therefore, the goodwill and favor of pagan gods had to be earned by appeasing them with sacrifices and good works.  Such a use of the word is foreign to the God of the Bible. Vine’s Expository Dictionary states the following:

 

It is never used of any act whereby man brings God into a favorable attitude or gracious disposition. It is God who is “propitiated” by the vindication of His holy and righteous character, whereby through the provision He has made in the vicarious and expiatory sacrifice of Christ, He has so dealt with sin that He can show mercy to the believing sinner in the removal of his guilt and the remission of his sins. . . . The expiatory work of the Cross is therefore the means whereby the barrier which sin interposes between God and man is broken down. By the giving up of His sinless life sacrificially, Christ annuls the power of sin to separate between God and the believer.  [38]

 

Propitiation is therefore, the perseverance of Jesus in appeasing the righteous justice of Holy God. How does God work in this propitiation?

Pressing On in Propitiation – The Work of God

Propitiation is the persevering work of Jesus and it begins in the Old Testament. Propitiation involves the Old Testament imagery of the sacrificial system. On The Day of Atonement  (Leviticus 16) the High Priest would select two goats and by lot, one would be sacrificed, the other would be led out into the wilderness. This second goat was referred to as “the scapegoat.”

The first goat was sacrificed by the priest who would lay his hands on the goat and confess the sins of the people while sacrificing it. The priest would then take the blood of the sacrificed goat and go behind the veil and sprinkle the mercy seat, (the cover – HILASTERION - of the ark of the covenant which was a box shaped structure) seven times with the blood. The sacrifice of the goat, the sprinkling of the blood on the mercy seat seven times, completed the propitiatory act. God accepted the shedding of the blood of the goat on behalf of the people, and then the people would be acceptable to Him.

The second goat, the scapegoat, was a kind of carrier of sin and was then led off and directed into the wilderness. When the scapegoat disappeared into the wilderness the priest would signal the disappearance of the goat and the people would worship and rejoice because atonement was completed by the shedding of blood and the removal of sin out of sight. The psalmist captures this idea when he writes: .

  • Psalm 103:12 – “As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”  [39]

The Day of Atonement in the Old Testament with the sacrificial goat and scapegoat were only an illustration of what Christ would do in reality in the New Testament. The New Testament reveals the mystery of the Old Testament. The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed; the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. The Bible  teaches that the blood of bulls and goats was not good enough to make atonement but only pointed to the work of Christ. In Hebrews it states:

  • Hebrews 10:1-4 – “For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins.3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.  [40] 

Since no sinful sacrifice of man or animal is sufficient to atone for sin, but a perfect Man was needed, we therefore read in the New Testament:

·         1 Peter 1:18-19 – “knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”  [41]

Don’t let this truth pass you by; Propitiation involves GOD APPEASING HIS OWN STANDARD OF JUSTICE AND HOLINESS BY HIMSELF PROVIDING A SACRIFICE IN HIS ONLY SON JESUS. We do not appease God, God appeases Himself in Christ. This was prophetically pictured in the book of Isaiah where it states:  

  • Isaiah 53:6 – “All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”  [42]
  • Isaiah 53:10-12 – “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities.12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.”   [43]

In the New Testament we see how the Triune God worked this propitiation in Himself as it states:

  • 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 – “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”  [44]

This is sweet and precious grace dear disciple. “GOD WAS IN CHRIST RECONCILING THE WORLD TO HIMSELF”! The only way for the High and Holy Almighty God to resolve the sin problem of humankind was to Himself atone for sin and propitiate the sin. It’s incredible that God would do that, but He did. Why did He do it? Because he is not only holy, but also a God of love as it states:

  • Romans 5:8 – “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” [45]

Why is propitiation necessary?

Why is propitiation necessary? Because, God is absolutely righteous. Satan challenges God’s righteousness, His fairness. Satan did this in the Garden of Eden when he insinuated that God was keeping something good form Eve by not allowing her to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 3:4-5). Objections by people to accepting the gospel often involve people’s challenge to God’s fairness about damning anyone to hell. But God is absolutely righteous and fair and therefore, whatever judgment He imposes we can be confident that it will be just and fair.

Now, since God is totally fair and just, how can He forgive your sins and still be just and holy? You have broken His laws and sinned repeatedly. You are hopelessly condemned by the law of God. How can a just God forgive sin? How can God be in harmony with His law and forgive those who break that law?

Sin is missing the mark” (Greek HAMARTIA). How could a just judge who keeps the law perfectly, treat those who miss the mark or break His law as though they had never missed the mark? How could a just judge set a criminal free who had obviously committed the crime they are accused of committing?

When God forgives a person, He must do so with a righteous basis. God can’t just say, “Okay, you’re forgiven.” God can’t break His own law to forgive the sinner. The law must be satisfied. The lawful penalty for breaking God’s law is death. The sinner must die in accordance with the law. How can God accomplish this? God sent his Son into the world who lived a perfectly sinless life. Jesus never missed the mark. BECAUSE JESUS LIVED WITHOUT SIN, HE WAS ABLE TO FREELY OFFER HIMSELFIN YOUR PLACE AS PAYMENT FOR YOUR DEBT OF SIN. IN DOING SO, GOD IS ABLE TO JUSTLY FORGIVE YOUR SIN BASED ON THE SACRIFICE OF JESUS IN YOUR PLACE. THE DEATH OF JESSU, THE INNOCENT SON OF GOD, IS THE RIGHTEOUS BASIS OF GOD’S FORGIVENESS OF SIN.

The Bible states that the shedding of blood or giving of life is necessary to forgive sins:  

  • Hebrews 9:22 – “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.”  [46]
  • Leviticus 17:11 – “‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’”  [47]

Since sin ruins God’s intended holiness of life and destroys life, a life that was holy and without sin is what is required to reverse or atone justly for sin. There is no other way to redeem (buy sinful people out from under the burden and debt of sin) than by the death of Jesus, the perfect sinless Man on the cross. Jesus prayed for any possible alternative in the Garden of Gethsemane  (Matthew 26:39,42,44). The silence of the Father in response to His son’s request indicated there is no other way for sin to be atoned for and forgiven than through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross (John 10:9; 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Corinthians 2:2).

Jesus is the ONLY way

Here we have one of the greatest and clearest proofs that Jesus’ atoning death on the cross was necessary and the only way a person can be saved and enter Heaven. Three times Jesus prayed for an alternative, for “this cup pass from Me” but each time the silence form the Father indicates there is no other way. If salvation could have come through any other way, the Father would have spared His Son Jesus. But since He did not, we know that Jesus’ atoning death on the cross is the only way.

Despite this clear proof of Jesus as the only way to salvation there are those who disregard God and His word to propose their own way. An example of this is found in the teachings of the God Squad. The God Squad is composed of a Rabbi (Marc Gellman) and a Roman Catholic Priest (Msgr. Thomas Hartman). In an issue of a Saturday Newsday newspaper (3/23/02) the God Squad, (who have a weekly question and answer column), responded to a question dealing to someone who asked them if Jesus was the only way to salvation. The title of that days column was “The Many Paths To God.” The God Squad response was as follows:

“Q. I’m a Christian and have been told all my life that Jesus is the Messiah and the one who will redeem all people. However, you’ve written that there are many paths to the top of the mountain and many paths to God. How can this be true from a Christian perspective?

A.From a Christian point of view, Jesus is the son of God and his atoning death is necessary for salvation. The question before Christians for tow millennia has been whether or not one has to believe this to be saved. In John 3:5, we read: “Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”  This verse convinces some Christians that one must formally accept Jesus as savior in order to be saved. Most evangelical Protestants believe this literally.

Catholic theologian Karl Rahner offers a theological alternative called “baptism by desire,” by which people who have neither been baptized nor accepted Jesus as savior can still be saved by Jesus’ atoning death, even if they don’t’ know it. Their lives of kindness, goodness and compassion count as if they were baptized.

Rahner and others point to Matthew 25:31-40 [quoted in full] . . . In this passage, the people did not know they were helping Jesus when they helped the poor and imprisoned. Rahner and others conclude that one need not know or believe in Jesus to be saved.

We stand with Rahner and with all who say God would not cast into hell people who feed the hungry and try to make this world a better place. We also honor those who believe there is only one way up the mountain. We believe the mountain is way too big for just one path and God is way too loving to ignore all the other climbers.” [48] (Emphasis added.)

This response is typical of those who turn a blind eye to God’s revealed truth in order to avoid the offense of the cross. To such as these toleration is the preeminent dogma even if it means disregarding the cross of Christ. Notice their attempt to please some by saying people who don’t believe in Jesus, “can still be saved by Jesus’ atoning death, even if they don’t know it” ! That is as “narrow” as they get. That is as much respect that the cross of Christ gets from the  God Squad. Their spirit of toleration and duplicity comes out with their talk of a mountain that has many paths leading to the top. They condescendingly accommodate those who believe Jesus is the only way by saying they “honor” them too. But for them and their view of God, “God is way too loving to ignore all the other climbers.” I wonder why God didn’t tell that to His Son Jesus in Gethsemane. When Jesus asked three times if the cup could be removed, why didn’t God His Father say, “Oh please Son, don’t think you have to go through all the trouble of dying on the cross, there are many paths to Me so why go through all that trouble and pain?” That God didn’t say anything of the sort indicates clearly, along with the actually cross work of Jesus, that the only way to God is through Jesus Christ and His atoning work and resurrection (See also John 14:6).

That Jesus is the ONLY  way to be saved from sin is explained further in these comments by pastor Chuck Smith:

“The prayer of Jesus. Father, let this cup pass from Me, if it’s possible. If what is possible? If salvation and redemption for mankind is possible by any other means, by any other method, then let this cup pass from Me.  . . The reason why the cross of Jesus Christ offends people is because it narrows down the way of salvation to only one way. There’s only one hope for a man to be forgiven his sin, there’s only one hope for heaven, and that’s through the cross of Jesus Christ. If it had been possible that man could be saved by any other means, then Jesus would not have gone to the cross. If it’s possible, Father, let this cup pass from Me. Nevertheless, and here is that beautiful submitting, now what I will but Thy will be done.” [49]

Jesus said:

  • Matthew 7:13-14 - “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.14 “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. [50]

Jesus said He was, is and always will be that “gate,” or “door,” that, “way”:

  • John 10:7-10 – “Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.8 “All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.9 “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”  [51]
  • John 14:6 – “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  [52]

Any alternative sought for salvation other than by God’s grace through faith in Jesus, is a slap in the face of Jesus and a diminishing of the incredible perseverance in love that drove Jesus to the cross.

MARK THAT ACTION: Jesus prayed for an alternative to His propitiatory sacrifice on the cross as a means of atonement and salvation from sin; the Father’s silence tells us there are no other alternatives. The only way to be saved from sin is by God’s grace through faith alone in the work of Jesus alone on the cross. That is why Jesus pressed on to the cross; there was, is and never shall be any other way for salvation. That is the truth we press on in and we press on to tell others about.

 

You’ll never have to drink that cup

 

I once taught at a youth camp and if you’ve ever been around teenage youth you know that they enjoy doing things that “normal” people would never think of doing. I remember one activity that the youth at this camp did which illustrates in part Jesus drinking from the cup of God’s wrath. The activity involved about six young people coming up in front of the rest of the group. Each young person is given a toothbrush with toothpaste on it. While they are each given a toothbrush to brush their teeth with, there is only one glass filled with water to rinse with. The first person brushes their teeth (usually with a large gob of toothpaste on their brush) and then rinses with the water from the glass and then spits the rinse back into the glass. That doesn’t seem too bad does it? Well, at least not for the first person, but the next person brushes too, and then rinses with the water that the first person used to rinse with! Now this would be bad enough, but the same procedure is followed on down the line by each person, brush, rinse, pass it on. But the best (worst?) is yet to come. When it comes time for the last person to brush and rinse, instead of spitting the used rinse back into the glass, THE LAST PERSON DRINKS THE RINSE WATER THAT HAS BEEN USED BY THE FIVE PERSONS THAT PRECEEDED THEM! The last person drinks the dregs of the rinse water down fully as the rest of the youth gleefully cheer them on. It’s all great fun for the youth, for others it is enough to make one gag!

But here’s the point, as awful and disgusting and repulsive as the rinse water was to drink, it doesn’t even come close to illustrating the dregs of the wine of the wrath of God that Jesus drank on the cross. Jesus who never sinned and knew no sin, took on Himself the dregs of the sin of all humanity for all time. And on the cross Jesus drank every last drop for you and for me. Thus, when we see the premeditated murder plot of the religious leaders, the selfish greed of Judas, the cowardly betrayals of the disciples, the illegalities, the mocking and murder in these last three chapters, we see the dregs of the cup of the wrath of God that is rightfully poured out on such sin and we also see that Jesus drank the full cup of such wrath so that those who sin in such ways can find forgiveness for their sin through faith in Christ by God’s gracious provision in Christ.

Because Jesus pressed on through to the end, there is salvation available for us. When we look at our Master and Lord Jesus, and we see what He persevered through, it puts our problems into perspective. Disciple, Jesus your Master  and Savior persevered for you, He left you an example to follow, not to gain salvation or even reward, but simply because the love of Christ compels us, that loving appreciation for His persevering work. Because Jesus pressed on, so can you; you can let Him work in and through you to the end.  

Jesus Had a Passion to Press On Even Though He Was Forsaken and Disrespected

 

Mark 14:43-52 - 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.” [53]

Jesus never harmed anyone and yet those who came to arrest Him came as though He were a common criminal. They came with swords and clubs as a means of intimidation and irreverence of the highest degree. The angels showed reverence to Jesus (Hebrews 1:6); the Magi showed reverence to Jesus (Matthew 2:1-2,11); certain people revered and worshipped Jesus (Matthew 15:25; Mark 14:1-9; John 9:30-38);  the disciples revered Jesus (Matthew 28:17); and the heavenly choir will worship Him (Revelation 45:10-11); yet these did not. Imagine coming against this great Teacher, Healer, Miracle Worker, Savior, Messiah, Christ, King of kings and LORD of Lords with swords and clubs? In the face of this disrespect and irreverence Jesus had a passion to press on.

In Matthew’s account he is inspired to add that Jesus said, to Judas, “Friend, why have you come?” (Matthew 26:50). Jesus is still keeping the door open for repentance, for friendship. Judas slams the door and he does so with the unholiest of kisses. Betraying Jesus with a kiss, what was considered the greeting of a friend, was a monstrously perverted way to desecrate the friendship offered by Jesus to Judas.

Furthermore, this too was a prediction given centuries before as the psalmist wrote:

  • Psalm 41:9 – “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me.”  [54]

Though Jesus was betrayed by a “friend,” He pressed on.

Who was it who drew the sword and cut off the ear of   the high priest’s servant? John tells us it was Peter (John 18:10-11). Jesus was not about to allow any impulsive reaction of His disciples keep Him from pressing on in His mission to the cross. He rebuked His disciple and His enemies for relying on an earthly weapon in their task (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). The rebuke by Jesus emphasized the atrocity and sinfulness of the actions that were taking place.

According to Matthew’s inspired account Jesus could have called down “twelve legions”  (Matthew 26:53), of angels to His defense, but He was not distracted by this option and instead pressed on in His mission.  A legion consisted of 6,000 soldiers. Twelve legions consisted therefore of about 72,000 angels. In the Old Testament a single angel of God wiped out 185,000 Babylonians (2 Kings 19:35). Jesus had quite a force at His disposal. But He remained meek. Meekness is strength under control. Jesus pressed on in meekness, controlling His power so that He could complete His mission of redemption.

Furthermore, He presses on with the purpose of seeing the Scriptures fulfilled (Mark 14:49; Matthew 26:56). This is one of the most important aspects of Jesus’ mission, the fulfillment of Scripture. In Matthew’s inspired account of the gospel we see over and over again that Jesus refers to the Scripture and its fulfillment as being part of His mission (Matthew 3:15; 4:4,7,10; 5:17-18;  “You have heard” – 5:21,27,33,38,43; 7:24; 10:35-36; 11:10,13,17; 12:3,5,7,40-42; 13:14-15; 15:3-9; 18:16; 19:4-5, 18-19; 21:13,16,42; 22:29,32, 37-40, 43-45; 23:39; 24:15,35; 26:31,54,56; 27:46). Indeed Jesus said from the start of His ministry:

Matthew is a gospel that repeatedly emphasizes the fulfillment of Scripture (Matthew 1:22; 2:15,17,23; 4:14; 8:17; 12:17; 13:35; 21:4; 27:9,35). Jesus’ mission was to fulfill Scripture and it’s requirements because it is the word of God and truth. Nothing, not even ill-advised impulsive attempts by a disciple with a sword, would keep Him from pressing on to His goal.

MARK THAT ACTION:  Jesus pressed on even though betrayed by one He showed great love toward; if we are betrayed by someone close to us, even a believer, we should press on in our calling from the Lord.

Jesus Had a Passion to Press on Even Though He Was Falsely Accused

 

Mark 14:53-65 – “53 And they led Jesus away to the high priest; and with him were assembled all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes.54 But Peter followed Him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he sat with the servants and warmed himself at the fire.55 Now the chief priests and all the council sought testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none.56 For many bore false witness against Him, but their testimonies did not agree.57 Then some rose up and bore false witness against Him, saying,58 “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.’ ”59 But not even then did their testimony agree.60 And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, saying, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?”61 But He kept silent and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”62 Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”  63 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “What further need do we have of witnesses?64 “You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?” And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.65 Then some began to spit on Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him, and to say to Him, “Prophesy!” And the officers struck Him with the palms of their hands.”  [55]

 

Though led away as a common criminal (Mark 14:48; Matthew 26:55,57); though forsaken so fast by some that they left their clothes behind (Mark 14:50-52); though followed by Peter at a distance because he feared being discovered as one of His disciples (Mark 14:54; Matthew 26:58); though false testimony was trumped up against Him (Mark 14:55-59; Matthew 26:59-60); though He was grossly misquoted (Mark 14:58; Matthew 26:61); and though the charge and sentence were predetermined by evil men (Mark 14:55; Matthew 26:62); He kept silent and only spoke when put under oath (Matthew 26:63) and directly confronted by the high priest (Mark 14:61). Though His prophecy was rejected as blasphemy Jesus pressed on in His mission (Mark 14:62-665; Matthew 26:64-65). Jesus was falsely accused, misquoted, and persecuted by the religious leaders. He was spit upon, beaten and mocked by them  (Mark 14:65; Matthew 26:66-68). Yet throughout it all He pressed on in His redemptive mission.

Illegalities

The Sanhedrin and religious leaders who orchestrated the trial of Jesus disregarded the very law they claimed to uphold. There were a host of illegalities in the trial of Jesus. The following is a short list of some of these illegalities:

  • Binding a prisoner before sentence unless he resisted. Jesus did not resist his captors (John 18:12,24).
  • Judges were not supposed to take part in the arrest of the accused (Matthew 26:47; John 18:3).
  • No legal transactions or trials were allowed at night by law (Matthew 26:20; John 18:28).
  • Arrests were not to be made through informants (Exodus 23:6-8; Matthew 26:14-16, 48-50;John 18:5).
  • While a person could be acquitted the same day, any other sentences were required to wait until the next day (Matthew 26:65-66).
  • Judges were supposed to see that the rights of the accused were protected (John 18:14). Yet false witnesses and witnesses that contradicted each other were accepted (Mark 14:59; Matthew 26:59-60). The judges did not oppose violence against the accused (Mark 14:65; Matthew 26:67-68).
  • It was illegal to carry weapons on a feast day (Matthew 26:55; John 18:3). 
  • No witness was ever called for the defense.
  • The Court didn’t have authority to condemn to death (John 18:31).
  • It was illegal to conduct court on a feast day (Mark 14:1-2; Matthew 26:1-2; John 18:28).
  • The sentence was passed in the high priests home but it was required by law that a sentence must be passed in the Temple (Matthew 26:57-59; John 18:28).

There are more inconsistencies in the trial of Jesus, but the important point is that even though His accusers broke the law to get at Him, He pressed on in His mission.

MARK THAT ACTION:  It would have been easy for Jesus to throw up His hands in frustration when faced with willful twisting of the Scriptures and His words. When people manipulate the word of God in an attempt to falsify the truth to their own gain, it can be frustrating to the point of exhausting one’s perseverance. But this did not deter Jesus in the least. He pressed on. We can learn a lot from Jesus perseverance here because the twisting and manipulation of Scriptures by cults and false teachers has continued in history and is prevalent in our day. No matter what we are to press on in the truth as Jesus did.  

An example of Scripture twisting

A modern day example of such Scripture twisting is found in the Watchtower and Tract Society of the Jehovah’s Witnesses whose Bible translation, the New World Translation, is a subjective mistranslation of the Bible to support their false doctrines. Ron Rhodes in his book 10 Most Important Things You Can Say to a Jehovah’s Witness states:

The New World Translation is inaccurate, misleading, and heavily biased in favor of Watchtower Society theology. Indeed, this translation is worded in such a way that it virtually strips Jesus of His absolute deity . . . the Watchtower Society teaches that the Father God is God Almighty while Jesus is a lesser god . . . . Respected biblical linguists have given a universal ‘thumbs down’ to the New World Translation. Consider:

  • Dr. Julius Mantey, author of a manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, calls the New World Translation ‘a shocking mistranslation.’
  • Dr. Bruce Metzger, late professor of New Testament at Princeton University, calls the New World Translation ‘a frightful mistranslation,’ ‘erroneous,’ ‘pernicious,’ and ‘ reprehensible.’ . . .

Rhodes goes on to say, “the translators of the New World Translation were not biblical linguists. . . Four of the five men in the committee had no Hebrew or Greek training whatsoever. In fact, they had only high school educations. The fifth – Fred Franz – claimed to know Hebrew and Greek, but upon examination under oath in a court of law in Edinburgh, Scotland, he failed a simple Hebrew test.”[56]

An example of the mistranslation in the NWT is found in their translation of Colossians 1:16-17 which is accurately translated in the New King James Version as:

  • Colossians 1:16-17 – “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” [57]

The NWT inserts the word “other” brackets after the word “all” in order to give the impression that Jesus is created first and then the Father used Jesus to create “all [other] things.” The only problem with that is that in the original Greek text the word “all” is translated from the Greek term PANTA (from PAS – Strong’s #3956) which means, “all, any, every, the whole.[58] Colossians 1:16-17 teaches that JESUS CREATED ALL THINGS, and therefore He could not be created Himself. What is interesting is that in the 1950 version of the NWT the word “other” was inserted without brackets giving the impression that it was in the original language. It was only after an outcry from evangelical scholars that the added words of the NWT were put in brackets in the 1961 version.

Another point to make here is that in Isaiah it states:

  • Isaiah 44:24 – “Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, And He who formed you from the womb: “I am the Lord, who makes all things, Who stretches out the heavens all alone, Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself;”  [59]

If, according to Isaiah 44:24, the LORD (YHWH) “makes all things,” with the grammatical emphasis on “by Myself,” and creating, “all alone,” then when we correlate Colossians 1:16-17 with this we have a clear teaching of the deity of Jesus; Jesus is God. Other such Old Testament to New Testament links showing Jesus as God are: Jesus and Yahweh referred to as “I Am” – John 8:58 and Exodus 3:14; Jesus and Yahweh “pierced” on the cross – Revelation 1:7 and Zechariah 12:10; Jesus and Yahweh’s glory linked – John 12:41 and Isaiah 6:1-5; and Jesus and Yahweh have similar voices – Revelation 1:15 and Ezekiel 43:2.

Even though the bible is misquoted and twisted by false teachers, the disciple should persevere as his or her Master did. Thomas doubted Jesus’ resurrection and almost gave up, but Jesus appeared to him and invited him to touch and feel Him for himself. Thomas’ exclamation is the exclamation and testimony of the entire Bible. Thomas said:

  • John 20:28 – “And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” [60]

This verse is unmistakably a testimony to the deity of Jesus. The Greek of this sentence actually states, “The Lord of me and the God of me.” Disciple, persevere in the truth even though there are those who misquote and persecute. [61]

Jesus Had a Passion to Press on Even Though He and His Mission Were Forsaken and Denied

 

Mark 14:66-72 – “66 Now as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came.67 And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with Jesus of Nazareth.”68 But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you are saying.” And he went out on the porch, and a rooster crowed.69 And the servant girl saw him again, and began to say to those who stood by, “This is one of them.”70 But he denied it again. And a little later those who stood by said to Peter again, “Surely you are one of them; for you are a Galilean, and your speech shows it.”71 Then he began to curse and swear, “I do not know this Man of whom you speak!”72 A second time the rooster crowed. Then Peter called to mind the word that Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” And when he thought about it, he wept.”  [62]

 

Peter’s downfall began when he first followed Jesus at a distance (Mark 14:54), then warmed himself or found comfort at the campfire of the enemy (Mark 14:67), and having done this, he was set up for a great fall which happened when he denied any association with Jesus three times (Mark 14:68,70, 71). Peter had denied Jesus long before this as he left Jesus’ side and wandered away from Him. Jesus saw all of this coming, yet He pressed on still.

In Luke’s account we are given the added information that Peter’s denials were made in the presence of Jesus. In Luke it states:

  • Luke 22:55-62 – “Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them.56 And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, “This man was also with Him.”57 But he denied Him, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.”58 And after a little while another saw him and said, “You also are of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!”59 Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, “Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.”60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying!” Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”62 So Peter went out and wept bitterly.”  [63]

We often focus on the depth of sin of Peter’s betraying remarks and his bitter weeping afterward, but what of Jesus feelings? What do you think Jesus was feeling when the one who just hours before had boasted of his allegiance to Jesus even unto death (Mark 14:29-31; Matthew 26:33), now not only betrays Him in word three times, but also does so in curses (Mark 14:71; Matthew 26:74)?

Jesus knew that Peter would betray Him with all the other disciples, but knowing it didn’t make it any easier. What do you think Jesus felt when one of His inner core disciples, one who He not only spent three close years in ministry with, but who saw His transfiguration and Him raise the dead; what do you think He felt when that disciple said, “I do not know this Man of whom you speak!” Those words had to have had a cutting and emotionally wounding affect on Jesus. “I do not know this Man!” Couldn’t Peter have chosen other words?  The words “this man” seem particularly derisive as though Peter is trying to put as much distance between himself and Jesus as he can. Jesus had spent His life with this man Peter. Yes, the denial must have had a deeply cutting affect on the heart of Jesus. Jesus must have been deeply saddened by the disciple’s betrayals and because He knew they would be bitterly sorrowful over their failures, but He pressed on nonetheless.

How about you? When people ask you about Jesus, about what you believe, do your words and actions duplicate the words, “I do not know this Man!”? Jesus persevered to the cross for you, to save your soul. Disciple, isn’t it time you acknowledge you know the Man Jesus, if indeed you do? Think about that.

MARK THAT ACTION: Peter began his denial of Jesus by first drifting away from Him gradually until, in a weakened state, he outright denied and put distance between himself and Jesus siding with the enemies of Jesus. We should learn from this and stay close to Jesus no matter what. We need to press on with Jesus always being ready to express and convey our loyalty and faith in Him.

Hope to press on

Peter said, “I do not know this Man!” (Mark 14:71) the cock crowed, the Master glanced and then he wept bitterly. His bitter weeping was because at that moment he experienced the worst failure of a disciple, he denied His Master. As a disciple Peter had failed. Maybe you have walked the same steps as Peter. Maybe you have failed your Master. Maybe you are at a place of bitter weeping. The story doesn’t’ end there.

Peter was forgiven and reinstated as one of the leading disciples (John 21:15-19). That should give you hope. That is the good news of the cross; Jesus paid the penalty for every sin on the cross, even the sin of rejection, of betrayal. Because Jesus pressed on to the cross, you can be forgiven, your sins can be wiped clean, you can be reinstated, and you can press on too. Sin and death were dealt a fatal blow on the cross. Because Jesus persevered, there is hope and where there is hope, you can persevere and press on (Jeremiah 14:8-9; Romans 15:4, 13; 1 Timothy 1:1). 

 

Conclusion

 

One of the lowest beasts of burden we see in the Bible is the mule or donkey. And we can learn a great deal from examining how God used such animals in the Bible. The Lord used a donkey to speak to a thickheaded and hard hearted prophet named Balaam in the Old Testament (Numbers 22). From this we learn that if God can speak through a donkey, He certainly can also speak through us. In the New Testament Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem on a donkey (Mark 11:1-7). From this we learn that we should, like that donkey, present ourselves humbly to Jesus for Him to ride us to glory.

 

There is a modern day parable involving an old mule that helps us to understand how to handle life’s troubles and to press on in God’s calling. A number of years ago a friend sent me this parable over the Internet.

 

A parable is told of a farmer who owned an old mule.  The mule fell into the farmer’s well.  The farmer heard the mule ‘braying’ or whatever mules do when they fall into wells.  After carefully assessing the situation, the farmer sympathized with the mule, but decided that neither the mule nor the well was worth the trouble of saving.  Instead, he called his neighbors together and told them what had happened...and enlisted them to help haul dirt to bury the old mule in the well and put him out of his misery.

Initially, the old mule was hysterical!  But as the farmer and his neighbors continued shoveling and the dirt hit his back...a thought struck him.  It suddenly dawned on him that every time a shovel load of dirt landed on his back...He should shake it off and step up!  This he did, blow after blow.

“Shake it off and step up...shake it off and step up...shake it off and step up!” he repeated to encourage himself.  No matter how painful the blows or distressing the situation seemed the old mule fought “panic” and just kept right on shaking it off and stepping up!

It wasn’t long before the old mule, battered and exhausted, stepped triumphantly over the wall of that well! What seemed like it would bury him, actually blessed him...all because of the manner in which he handled his adversity.

That’s life!  If we face our problems, commit ourselves to press on and respond to them positively, trusting the Lord in faith, and refuse to give in to panic, bitterness, or self-pity...The adversities that come along to bury us usually have within them the potential to benefit and bless us! God really can cause ALL things to work together for good to those who love Him and trust Him.

Remember that forgiveness faith prayer praise and hope...are all are excellent ways to “shake it off and step up” out of the wells in which we find ourselves! Let the love of Christ compel you to press on in the passion and call of God on your life.

 

 



[1]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[2]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[3]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[4]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[5]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[6]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[7]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[8]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[9]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[10]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[11]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[12]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[13]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[14]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[15]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[16]Jerry Falwell, executive editor; Edward E. Hinson and Michael Kroll Woodrow, general editors, KJV Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1994.

[17]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[18]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[19]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[20]Jerry Falwell, executive editor; Edward E. Hinson and Michael Kroll Woodrow, general editors, KJV Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1994.

[21]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[22]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[23]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[24]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[25]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[26]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[27]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[28]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[29]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[30]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[31]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[32]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[33]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[34]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[35]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[36]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[37]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[38]W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[39]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[40]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[41]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[42]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[43]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[44]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[45]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[46]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[47]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[48] Newsday, 3/23/03 Part 2, B1 and B2.

[49] Chuck Smith, Word For Today audiotape #8026

[50]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[51]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[52]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[53]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[54]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[55]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[56]Ron Rhodes, The 10 Most Important Things You Can Say to a Jehovah’s Witness,Eugene, OR: Harvest House Pubs. 2001) pgs. 24-25

[57]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[58]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[59]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[60]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[61] Ron Rhodes, Ibid. p. 30. this verse is also important  as a response to the JW claim that since there is no definite article in John 1:1 referring to the “Word was God,” then the Word, Jesus is then “a god.” But Greek grammar does not require a definite article and whether or not a definitie article is present or not does not change the meaning of “God” (Greek THEOS). In John 20:28 Thomas’ words are ho theos, and therefore even by JW claims Jesus is referred to unmistakably as “God.”

[62]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[63]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.