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Peter's Denials (Mark 14)

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Mark 14

The anointing of Jesus
Now it was two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread; and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might arrest him using trickery and kill him. 2 For they said: Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.
   3 And while he was in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, there came a woman with an alabaster vial of ointment of pure nard- very expensive. She broke the vial and poured it over his head. 4 But there were some that had indignation among themselves, saying: For what purpose has this waste of the ointment been made? 5 For this ointment might have been sold for above three hundred denarii and given to the poor. And they scolded her. 6 But Jesus said: Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work upon me. 7 For you have the poor always with you, and whenever you want you can do them good, but me you do not have always. 8 She has done what she could. She has anointed my body beforehand for the burying. 9 And truly I say to you: Wherever in the whole world the gospel shall be preached, what this woman has done shall be spoken of as a memorial to her.
   10 And Judas Iscariot, he that was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests, that he might betray him to them. 11 And they, when they heard it, were glad; and promised to give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray him.

Jesus prepares to eat the Passover
12 And on the first day of unleavened bread, when they sacrificed the Passover, his disciples said to him: Where will you have us prepare for you the Passover to eat? 13 And he sent two of his disciples and said to them: Go into the city and there you shall meet a man bearing a pitcher of water. Follow him. 14 And wherever he enters, say to the master of the house: The teacher asks, where is the guest room in which I can eat the Passover with my disciples? 15 And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare it for us. 16 And the disciples went into the city and found as he had said to them. And they made ready the Passover.
   17 And when it was evening he came with the twelve. 18 And as they sat and were eating, Jesus said: Truly I say to you, one of you shall betray me- even he that eats with me. 19 They began to be sorrowful, and to say to him one by one: Is it I? 20 And he said to them: It is one of the twelve. He that dipped in the dish at the same time with me. 21 For the Son of Man goes, even as it is written of him, but woe to that man through whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would be better for that man if he had not been born.

The last supper
   22 And as they were eating, he took bread and when he had blessed it, he broke it and gave it to them, and said: Take, eat, this is my body. 23 And he took a 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 poured out for many. 25 Truly I say to you: I shall no more drink of the fruit of the vine, until the day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.
   26 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 27 And Jesus said to them: All of you shall fall away. For it is written: I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered abroad. 28 However, after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you into Galilee. 29 But Peter said to him: Although all shall fall away, I will not! 30 And Jesus said to him: Truly I say to you, yes to you today, that this night, before the cock crows twice, you shall deny me three times. 31 But Peter said emphatically: Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you. And they all said the same.

Jesus in Gethsemane
32 And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples: Sit here while I pray. 33 And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. 34 And he said to them: My soul is exceeding sorrowful even to death. Stay here and watch. 35 And he went forward a little and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass away from him. 36 And he said: Abba, Father, all things are possible for You; remove this cup from me. However, not as I will but what You will.
   37 And he returned and found them sleeping, and said to Peter: Simon, why do you sleep? Could you not watch one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you do not fall into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak. 39 And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. 40 And again he returned and found them sleeping. Their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to answer him.
   41 And he returned a third time and said to them: Sleep on now and take your rest. It is enough. The hour comes, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Arise! Let us be going. He that betrays me is nearby.
   43 And immediately, while he yet spoke, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders bearing swords and staves. 44 Now he that betrayed him had given them a signal, saying: Whomsoever I shall kiss, that is he. Take him and lead him away safely. 45 And when he arrived, immediately he came to him and said: Master, Master; and kissed him. 46 And they arrested him and took him away.
   47 But one of the disciples that was standing nearby drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. 48 And Jesus said to them: Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 I was daily with you in the temple teaching and you did not arrest me; but this is done that the scriptures might be fulfilled. 50 And all the disciples left him and fled.
   51 And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him. 52 But he left the linen cloth and fled naked.

The trial of Jesus
53 And they led Jesus away to the high priest; and there came together all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes. 54 And Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he was sitting with the guards and warming himself at the fire.
   55 Now the chief priests and the whole council sought evidence against Jesus to put him to death, and did not find it. 56 For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. 57 And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying: 58 We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in 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 their midst and asked Jesus: Do you answer nothing? What is this that these witnesses say against you? 61 But he held his peace and said nothing. Again the high priest questioned him, saying: Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? 62 And Jesus said: I am, and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power and coming with the clouds of heaven. 63 And the high priest tore his clothes and said: What further need have we of witnesses? 64 You have heard the blasphemy. What think you? And they all condemned him to be worthy of death.
   65 And some began to spit on him and to cover his face, striking him and saying to him: Prophesy! And the guards took him and beat him with their hands.

Peter’s denials
   66 And as Peter was downstairs in the courtyard, there came one of the maids of the high priest. 67 And seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said: You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus! 68 But he denied it, saying: I neither know, nor understand what you say; and he went out into the porch; and the cock crew. 69 And the maid saw him and began again to say to them that stood by: This is one of them!
   70 But he again denied it. And after a little while, again they that stood by said to Peter: Of a truth you are one of them; for you are a Galilean. 71 But he began to curse and to swear under oath: I do not know this man of whom you speak. 72 And immediately the second time the cock crew. And Peter remembered what Jesus had said to him: Before the cock crows twice, you shall deny me three times. And as he thought upon it, he wept.



14:5 The lesson is not to have a utilitarian approach to life. If our love of Jesus is strong, we will feel like doing things which others consider senseless and not sensible. But do them.

14:8 That woman perceived that Jesus was going to die; she had heard and believed Jesus’ predictions about this. But the disciples had tuned out those predictions. Mark is showing in his preaching of the Gospel how slow the preachers had been to ‘get it’ themselves. And this gave the preaching more appeal and credibility.

14:13 Women and not men were the water carriers. This person was one of Jesus’ followers; the liberation of women within the teaching and practice of Jesus was one of the factors which led to the explosion of Christianity amongst first century women.

14:19 At the breaking of bread, we should examine ourselves (1 Cor. 11:28). This was prefigured by how the disciples each asked Jesus “Is it I [who will betray you]?”; and by how the Jews had to search their homes for yeast [representing sin] before they ate the Passover.

14:29 There is a tradition, and also some internal evidence, that Mark was writing down Peter’s account of the Gospel. Although Mark is the shortest Gospel, the account of Peter’s denials is most detailed in Mark. This shows how Peter was focusing upon his own weaknesses as he retold the Gospel; as we should.

14:36 ‘Abba’ has been interpreted as meaning ‘Daddy’. This is how close Jesus felt to God; and we can also.

14:37 One hour- His brief prayer of 14:36 took one hour to pray. We read those words too quickly. 14:51 Was this young man Peter (see v. 54)? Jesus speaks of him as “young” in Jn. 21:18.

14:68 The cock crew- Peter should’ve seen the warning sign. Did he psychologically ignore it; or did he resolve that next time he would not fail? He should’ve removed himself from temptation; but like us so often, he didn’t. He, like us, thought he was stronger than he was.

14:68 He “went out” from the Lord. “Went out” is the language of Judas going out (Jn. 13:30- in essence, Peter and Judas did the same thing at the same time). Other prototypes of the rejected likewise had gone out from the Lord. Cain ‘“went out” (Gen. 4:16), as did Zedekiah in the judgment of Jerusalem (Jer. 39:4; 52:7). Esau went out from the land of Canaan into Edom, slinking away from the face of his brother Jacob, sensing his righteousness and his own carnality (Gen. 36:2-8). Yet Peter in this life “went out” from the Lord and then some minutes later further “went out and wept bitterly” (Lk. 22:62), living out the very figure of condemnation- and yet was able to repent and come back. In this life we can be judged, condemned, weep...but still repent of it and thereby change our eternal destiny. But at the final judgment: it will be just too late. That ‘judgment’ will be a detailed statement of the outcome of the ongoing investigative judgment which is going on right now.

14:72 Three times- Mark’s record of the Lord’s trial is not merely a historical account. It’s framed in terms of our need to testify for our faith too. The Lord’s example in His time of suffering was and is intended to be our example and inspiration, in that we are to in a very practical sense enter into His sufferings. Mark records the Lord’s prediction that His people would have to witness before both Jewish and Gentile authorities (Mk. 13:9-13)- and then Mark goes on in the next chapter to describe Jesus doing just this. The Lord asked His suffering followers not to prepare speeches of self-defence- perhaps exemplified and patterned for us in the way that He remained silent before His accusers. Peter is recorded as denying Christ three times- just as the Romans interrogated Christians and asked them to three times deny Christ. The Christians were also asked to curse, or anathematizein, Jesus. And when we read of Peter’s cursing, the same word is used. We’re left with the impression that Peter actually cursed Christ. And so Mark, who was likely writing the Gospel on Peter’s behalf, is showing that Peter, the leader of the church, actually pathetically failed to follow his Lord at this time. And yet the Gospel of Mark was being distributed to Christians who were being dragged before Jewish and Roman courts. The idea was surely to give them an example and encouragement from Peter’s failure, rather than portray a positive example of a man overcoming the temptation to curse and deny Christ. But this was how the Lord used Peter- as an example from failure for all of us.