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God Works Differently in Each Person,
seen in “The Sovereign Betrayal” of Christ
The various groups present at the sovereign betrayal of Christ
from the gospel of Mark 14:43 to 52
What kind of high schooler were you? A recent article put all students into some categories–see if you can identify yourself. Ready? Then tell me others. Students are either drama kids, overachievers, jocks, bratty girls, nerds, super friends, party animals, troublemakers, the cute couple, the better-than-you senior, the always-have-a-boyfriend or fighting couple, stoners, hipsters, or gossip girl. Which one were you, or which one are you still?
There’s no question, each of us are uniquely different–every person, culture, country, and race. Yet no matter who we are, we are all under the authority of the same God. We all live under His sovereign hand. He is in charge, and He will accomplish His will in your life. Psalm 115:3, “Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.”
And nothing could make that more clear than our passage from the gospel of Mark today. As a church, we’ve been working our way through Mark for years, and we are now close to the end. In Mark 14 it’s Thursday night, and the Lord is about to be arrested. The Lord is in the Garden of Gethsemane with eleven disciples. And the twelfth, the betrayer, now arrives with a huge crowd made up of different groups. So now, as they arrest Christ, you’ll witness unique reactions, different comments, distinctive behavior by each person–and in the midst of all that individuality, you’ll see God accomplish His sovereign will.
Like watching a crowd in the water at Oceanside when there’s a powerful rip–everyone is different, children, parents, students, surfers, body-boarders, seniors. They’re all doing unique things–swimming, floating, splashing. But even with all their distinctiveness, each of them are being pulled in one direction by a powerful riptide.
It’s the same for your home–every family member is unique, but each of you are guided toward God’s sovereign will. The same with your school, your team, or your workplace—everyone is different, but all are under God’s sovereign hand.
Take your outline, and open your Bible to verses 43 to 52. After studying this passage thoroughly, I thought the approach taken by William Barclay most honors Mark’s intention, in that we will study these verses person by person, with one group. As we do, we’ll clearly see the current pulling each group is the sovereign will of God in the redemption of man. Even with the sin of betrayal, God is in complete, absolute, certain control.
As I read these verses, I want you to circle the six key people or groups involved in the greatest betrayal that has ever occurred. Look at verse 43, “Immediately while He was still speaking, [1—CIRCLE] Judas, one of the twelve, came up accompanied by [2—CIRCLE] a crowd with swords and clubs, who were from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. 44 Now he who was betraying Him had given them a signal, saying, ‘Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him and lead Him away under guard.’ 45 After coming, Judas immediately went to Him, saying, ‘Rabbi!’ and kissed Him. 46 They laid hands on Him and seized Him. 47 But [3—CIRCLE] one of those who stood by drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. 48 And [4—CIRCLE] Jesus said to them, ‘Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me, as you would against a robber? 49 Every day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me; but this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures.’ 50 And [5—CIRCLE] they all left Him and fled. 51 [6—CIRCLE] A young man was following Him, wearing nothing but a linen sheet over his naked body; and they seized him. 52 But he pulled free of the linen sheet and escaped naked.”
Five unique persons and one group, six total, all under the sovereign plan of God. Which one are you most like? What can we learn from each of them? And how can we honor Christ most from this passage of Scripture? Let’s pray.
Jesus went from the Upper Room to the Mount of Olives, into the Garden of Gethsemane, where there are olive trees, an olive press, a garden, and possibly a place to sleep semi-outdoors. Three disciples are close by Christ, eight are by the gate. The Lord has been agonizing in prayer, while He lovingly warned Peter, James and John to watch and pray in order to be prepared for the coming temptation–they failed, but Christ did not.
After prayer, the Lord is now ready to face the cross. The last temptation of Christ is over–He is resolute to accomplish His Father’s will, to bear our sin on the cross. Now in verse 42, Christ tells His men it’s time to go. Christ knows what’s coming. He stands up, bloody sweat coursing down His exhausted face–His clothes stained red, but He’s unwavering and gives this triumphant order. “It is enough, get up. Let’s be going.”
But Christ didn’t mean to sneak out the back–He meant, “Let’s head directly toward this murderous crowd led by Judas.” What was it like? It was the middle of a spring night. The Passover moon was full. It was probably cloudless, since John 18:18 says it was a cold night. Pastor and commentator Kent Hughes says,
“The ancient olive trees were casting eerie shadows across the encampment. Beyond the ravine lay the sparse, scattered lights of Jerusalem where Judas had earlier made his rendezvous with a detachment from the Roman cohort (Matthew 26:47).
“The soldiers were fully armed, each carrying a short sword. With them came the Jewish Temple guards with their Billy clubs. Jews and Gentiles were united for once in a common cause. It must have been a chilling sight from Gethsemane, as the mob exited Jerusalem and its flickering torches moved down to the Kidron and up the slopes of Olivet. The plan was perfect.
“There would be no riot on this night, and if there was resistance, they were more than ready. It appears as Jesus saw the mob approaching Gethsemane, so He led Peter, James, and John to the place where the remaining disciples were sleeping, near the garden’s entrance. He roused them and then protectively stepped out in front to meet the soldiers.”
John 18:4 records what happened. Christ went right up to them, “So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, ‘Whom do you seek?’” This brings us to verses 43 to 52 and our first person.
#1 JUDAS Verse 43
“Immediately while He was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, came up.” Mark is telling us Judas was privileged, prophesied, and premeditated. In verse 42, as Jesus announces Judas the betrayer is at hand, verse 43 says, “Immediately”–in mid-sentence, while speaking the betrayal event occurs. The Lord told us in verse 41, “the hour has come.” Verse 42, “the one who betrays me is at hand.” And now verse 43, “Judas . . . came up.”
And Mark reminds us just who Judas truly is. He was one of the privileged, verse 43, “Judas, one of the twelve.” That phrase, “one of the twelve,” is used nine times in the gospels, eight of them in direct reference to Judas, emphasizing the treacherous, double-crossing, two-faced, deceitful and duplicitous nature of his betrayal.
Judas was one of the twelve–the man with the greatest privilege. He lived with God in the flesh for years. He heard His teaching firsthand. He witnessed Him raise the dead, give sight to the blind, heal all diseases, deliver people from demons, create food, control storms–and more than that, He saw Christ in private. He knew Christ was sinless, lived in perfect integrity, spoke and lived truth when no one was watching, and was always completely wise.
Judas, one of the twelve, one who knew Christ best now comes up to Christ to betray Him. You recall how this all came about–the Jewish leaders are jealous of Christ’s power, popularity and His message of salvation by grace and not works. In their proud self-righteousness, they hate Christ and want to kill Him in the worst way. And this week has merely intensified their passion to murder Christ all the more.
On Monday, Jesus arrives to thousands of people hailing Him as the Messiah. On Tuesday, Jesus crushes the Jewish Mafia headed up by the High Priest, who were making a fortune ripping worshipers off in the Temple. Jesus forces all those moneychangers and animal sellers out, intensifying their commitment to kill Him.
On Wednesday, with incredible courage, Jesus returns to the Temple, still strewn with debris from the day before, and handles every doctrinal trick the religious can throw at Him. Christ makes every single different religious sub-group from the Sanhedrin look totally foolish, as He clearly teaches God’s Word. The Sanhedrin want Him dead now, but they’re afraid of the people who are awed by Christ, and see Him as a prophet.
The crowds have made it clear they’re upset at Herod and the religious leaders who allowed John the Baptist to be killed. So how will they arrest Christ, then kill Him? They need to grab Him in secret, at night, away from the crowds. But they don’t know how–they need someone who knows where Christ will be at night, so they can arrest Him secretly.
Then Judas shows up. Judas initiated it. And the leaders were glad. They offer to pay Judas thirty pieces of silver, which is the price of a slave, in order to lead the religious to a place and time when Christ could be arrested in secret. Unwittingly, they fulfill another prophecy in the Old Testament, predicting their betrayal and the exact amount in Zechariah 11. This entire event was all prophesied in the Old Testament, as God planned.
And because it’s God’s sovereign plan for Christ to be crucified on Friday, and to die at the exact moment when all the thousands of Passover lambs are being slaughtered at 3 PM–Jesus releases Judas when at the Upper Room to complete Christ’s betrayal according to God’s exact timetable. Judas might have led this huge crowd to the Upper Room location first, but the Scriptures tell us Judas also knew about the Garden of Gethsemane, so now Judas leads them here.
And as you keep reading these verses, you will begin to see the perversity of Judas’s betrayal. Judas is not only shifty, underhanded, traitorous, and dangerous, but He’s intentionally wicked. This is premeditated murder–and this betrayal will be marked by a clear signal. Look at verses 44 to 45. “Now he who was betraying Him had given them a signal, saying, ‘Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him and lead Him away under guard.’ 45 After coming, Judas immediately went to Him, saying, ‘Rabbi!’ and kissed Him.”
Why does Judas need a signal? I thought everyone knew Jesus? Remember, it’s dark, and it’s in the middle of the night. You haven’t forgotten that there is no electricity, nor light bulbs. There is only torchlight. Add to that the reality that they’ve tried to take Christ before, and every single time He’s sovereignly slipped away, and to their disdain, continued with His public ministry.
Realize too, there’re over a million pilgrims camping all around the area–so they need a way to clearly identify Christ–a signal. So the betrayal will be marked by a kiss, which is a normal expression of greeting in that culture. And it could have been delivered any number of different ways. Slaves kissed feet, inferiors kissed hands, and equals kissed cheeks. This is Judas seeing himself as an equal, betraying his rabbi with an intimate act of affection, honor, love and respect–which makes this action, this kiss, all the more ugly.
We’ve all been betrayed–we all know what betrayal is like. But a kiss is the blackest kind of hypocrisy. Can you believe this? Think about what Jesus experienced. The Man of Sorrows had the spiritual leaders of the chosen nation want to murder Him. The crowds, who were made up of those Christ taught, fed, healed, and cared for, will soon yell, “Crucify Him.” The police of their day, the Roman soldiers, end up beating, mocking, laughing, spitting and spearing Him. The God-chosen secular leader, Pilate, proclaims Christ innocent, then with indifference condemns Him to death anyway.
But Judas must have been the deepest dagger to the God-man. Though part of God’s sovereign plan, it still must have hurt the most. Verse 45 seems to indicate Judas was unhesitating. “After coming, Judas immediately went to Him, saying, ‘Rabbi!’ and kissed Him.” The Greek makes an obvious distinction between kiss and kissed.
In verse 44, when Judas says, “Whomever I kiss,” that’s a different form of the word than verse 45 when it says, “’Rabbi!’ and kissed Him.” The Greek in the verse 44 kiss is from phileo, a sign of affection and friendship. But the actual verse 45 kissed is to kiss fervently–to kiss affectionately. The Greek word for kissed adds a preposition to the front of the word, which intensifies the verb.
When Judas came up to Christ, he was actually giving an intense expression of affection–an ongoing affection. It is the same word used in Luke 15 of the prodigal’s father, who repeatedly kisses the prodigal after he returns from his rebellion. It is the same words used in Acts 20 of the Ephesian elders, who repeatedly kissed Paul as he departed to Jerusalem and arrest. Judas was putting on a dramatic show of false affection, designed to make it unmistakable. Get it–Judas was so committed to his betrayal, he put on an ongoing show of deep affection so the soldiers would be able to identify Christ without a doubt.
An act of love is performed for a mission of hate. Imagine me kissing Jean on the cheek with all the signs of the love I have for her, yet my only true motive is so she can be immediately arrested and quickly killed. Our King made Judas one of His intimate, loyal twelve followers. But now one of the twelve, Judas, finishes his betrayal by turning on Christ with a feigned loyalty that’s nauseating, making Judas the greatest villain ever known to man.
Judas reveals his heart and adds to his rebellion–in verse 45, “Judas immediately went to Him, saying, ‘Rabbi!’ and kissed Him.” Matthew 26 records this moment as, “Hello,” or “Hail, Rabbi”–do you see it? Judas identifies Jesus as Rabbi, but not Lord. At the Passover meal, when our Lord said one of the twelve would betray Him, they all said, “Surely not I, Lord.” All except Judas–Judas alone said, “Surely not I, Rabbi.” Judas is affirming, “Jesus, you’re my teacher, my Rabbi, but Jesus, you are not my Lord, my Master.”
This points to a clear difference between genuine believers and make-believers. There is a clear difference between real Christians and fake Christians. Make-believers make claims, but don’t obey nor follow Christ. Matthew 7:22 and 23, “’Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” 23 And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”’” Then Luke 6:46, “’Why do you call Me, “Lord, Lord,” and do not do what I say?’” And 1 John 2:4, “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
Genuine believers obey and follow Christ as Lord. John 10:27, “’My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.’” And Mark 8:34, “’If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.’” James 1:22 says, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” Are you a genuine born again believer, or a make-believer?
Verse 45 is the final mention of Judas in the gospel of Mark. What happened to Judas? Matthew 27 tells us Judas stayed around after he betrayed Christ, until He was condemned. At that point Judas felt superficial remorse, tried to give the money back to the uncaring leaders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” The leaders responded with a, “What do we care?”
At which point Judas threw the money into the sanctuary and went out and hung himself. He didn’t do that very well, since Acts 1 tells us either the rope broke or the branch broke, his body fell and smashed on rocks, resulting in his intestines bursting out, telling us he died a horrific death. And as a result, people today don’t name their sons Judas–they don’t even name their dogs Judas, though people do fittingly name their cats Judas.
Jesus even said in verse 21, “’It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.’” Judas was a turncoat, a traitor, and a hypocrite who betrayed our Lord, his true mentor and his best friend. Judas, the greatest example of wasted opportunity, and the deadliest example of atrocious betrayal. But Judas wasn’t alone–He is leading a posse of men with him.
#2 THE CROWD Verse 43
“Immediately while He was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, came up accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs, who were from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.” The crowd with Judas is massive. Who are they? There are members of the highest religious group in Israel, the Sanhedrin. Plus, there’s at least one representative of the High Priest, a large contingent of Temple police, and a cohort of Roman soldiers.
John 18:3 tells us about the Roman cohort. A cohort is one-tenth of a legion, which is 6,000 men—meaning if they came in full strength, there would be 600 Roman soldiers present. That is not probable because of the late hour, but the religious leaders are not taking any chances.
Again, with millions of Jesus-loving pilgrims in town, many who’ve heard Christ teach, others who were healed or personally know someone who was healed or delivered by Jesus, thousands who hailed Him as the Messiah on Monday, and thousands who loved that Christ cleaned out the Temple, making a statement against the leaders who were financially ripping off worshipers—with so many people like this present, there was a great risk the crowds might rise up and resist the arrest of Jesus. That’s why Judas, verse 43, “came up accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs, who were from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.”
So the religious leaders made an appeal for troops who carried the short 18-inch sword of the Roman soldier, and they rallied the Mafia-led Temple bouncers with their wooden clubs like police batons, to accompany the High Priest and Sanhedrin representatives—all led by Judas to arrest Jesus. Mark is specific—“who were from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.” These are representatives from the religious leaders.
Each group has the Greek article, making them the three distinct groups that make up the Sanhedrin–those who want Jesus dead. So total, there’s at least two hundred present to arrest Christ. No question, this mob was an eerie sight as they made their way up the Mount of Olives to the Garden of Gethsemane.
The gospel of John mentions torches and lanterns—wow! Torches and lanterns to search for the Light of the World. Swords and clubs to subdue the Prince of Peace. Over a hundred men of violence and hate to arrest the Lord of love. Desperately sinful and twisted men to capture the only holy One. Men of anger and jealousy to seize the man of sorrows. All these men for one man–a man without sin, the God-man, the perfect, righteous, blameless, innocent, truthful Son of God. What a gross injustice. What a mockery! What a shame!
What did they do once they got the hypocritical kiss signal? Verse 46, “They laid hands on Him and seized Him.” As quickly as Judas identified our Lord that night, the soldiers laid hands on Him and seized Him. Just as Jesus had already told them three times in Mark 8, 9 and 10, it says in John 18:12, the Roman cohort and the commander and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound Him.
But the Greek verb for “seized” in verse 46 does not describe a modern day process of arresting someone, but actually designates a hostile kidnapping. They grab Jesus as if He were being kidnapped. They are sudden, harsh and violent. Yet do not forget, our Lord’s betrayal and arrest is God’s sovereign plan clearly foretold in Old Testament prophecy and predicted by our Lord Himself. The violence of this moment begets more violence. And the power Christ will manifest moves one disciple to impetuous action. Who is it?
#3 PETER Verse 47
“But one of those who stood by drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear.” We could easily guess who this was, but fortunately we don’t have to. John reveals this is Peter in John 18:10, “Simon Peter then, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave’s name was Malchus.”
Peter doesn’t go after a soldier, or a Temple guard police officer—no, Peter attacks the servant of the High Priest. Just like me– I’ll fight anyone, as long as he’s four feet tall, and has just recovered from a recent life-threatening illness. Peter picks a fight with the wimpy servant of the High Priest. Why is Peter doing this? He’s got something to prove.
He just claimed in Mark 14:29, “’Even though all may fall away, yet I will not.’” And then in verse 31, “’Even if I have to die with you, I will certainly not deny you.’” And Luke 22:33, “’Lord, with you I am ready to go both to prison and to death.’” So now Peter’s got something to prove, right? How did this all go down? John 18 describes it…
The crowd arrives with Judas. Jesus walks up to the Roman cohort, including some Roman officers, the Temple police with their clubs, the heavies from the Sanhedrin, and various religious leaders–all of whom are carrying swords, clubs, torches or lanterns. And Jesus says, “Who are you looking for?” (”Whom do you seek?”) They answer and say, “’Jesus the Nazarene.’”
Next Jesus speaks the name of God to them–He says, “I Am.” And the instant Jesus speaks, “I Am,” they all collapse to the ground. All two hundred-plus are literally forced into the dirt. The entire crowd went down flat from a supernatural action. God sovereignly threw them all to the ground, reminding them and us Who is truly in control here. They might as well tie Christ up with silly string.
That’s why Jesus said in John 10:17 and 18, “’I lay down My life . . . 18 No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative.’” And if you just saw Jesus speak, “I Am,” and somewhere between two hundred to a thousand people are laid down, would you feel like you could pull out your sword and do some damage? After all, all Jesus has to do is speak His name again and they’d all go down again.
That moment infused Peter with impetuous courage. Luke 22 tells us the disciples now had a couple of swords in preparation for self-defense in future ministry. But fortunately for Malchus, Peter was not a swordsman. Peter could throw a net, but he was untrained at removing heads. Peter wasn’t going for cosmetic surgery here, but for decapitation. Peter was trying to slit his throat, but Malchus shifted his head. He might have had the type of helmet on where the head is covered but the ear is exposed, and Peter’s sword glanced off the metal helmet and took his ear right off.
This is Peter, friends–Peter boasted too much, prayed too little, and acted too soon. And when we fail to trust God, we’re in grave danger of praying too little, sleeping too much, and also acting too soon as well. Matthew informs us Jesus says, “Stop, no more of this swordplay.” Matthew 26:52, “’Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.’” Then John 18:11, “Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?’”—“I must die.”
Though by implication here Christ supports capital punishment, with the statement that those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword, Jesus also affirms that His Kingdom does not advance by force. Violence done in the name of Christ is not done in the power of Christ, nor by the will of Christ, nor for the glory of Christ.
Islam advances through violence, but Christianity only advances through the Gospel, internally transforming one person at a time. Violence is not the plan of our Lord. John 18:36, “Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.’” In Matthew 26:53, our Lord reminds us, “’Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?’”
In a sense Jesus says to Peter after his failed sword slash, “Seriously, Peter? I could call on 72,000 angels to assist me. Put away your toothpick.” Twelve legions of angels is 72,000 angels. In 2 Kings 19, just one angel slew 185,000 Assyrians all by himself. I’m thinking 72,000 angels could do a lot of damage!
Then in another amazing display of divine power, in front of those who could see, Jesus gave Malchus a new ear. The only healing in the New Testament of a fresh wound, reminding Peter we don’t accomplish God’s plan through our fleshly methods. We need to do God’s work, God’s way. God’s plan for His Son was the cross–which is what Jesus affirms.
#4 JESUS Verse 48 and 49
“And Jesus said to them, ‘Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me, as you would against a robber? 49 Every day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me; but this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures.’” Jesus asks why the soldiers, swords, police and clubs? Really? I was in your midst Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday–why now? Why arrest/seize Me now, and why with such a show of force?
Jesus is unmasking their hypocrisy in this clandestine operation to take Him at night, which is in violation of all their laws. Do you notice how amazingly calm Christ is here? In a sense Jesus says, “Have I ever tried to run from you? No–I’m not some scary robber, or murderous highwayman where you would actually need all these soldiers and police. The Sanhedrin have used stealth, bribery, and treachery in order to arrest Christ, exposing the depth of their wickedness.
So what does Jesus say in verse 49, “’This has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures’”? The reason you’re here today is because today is the day Scripture will be fulfilled. And in the midst of your mindless anger, you’re fulfilling God’s perfect sovereign plan exactly on schedule. That’s why you’re here now–the Old Testament Scripture is being fulfilled. I will die exactly at 3 in the afternoon–the same moment thousands of Passover lambs are sacrificed, because I’m the final, sufficient, true Passover Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. That’s why.
I don’t believe Satan wanted Christ to go to the cross. Though He wanted to kill Christ, I don’t think He wanted the cross. Possibly the enemy thought the crowds would stop it in the morning. Possibly the enemy thought if He made Christ’s suffering horrible enough, that Christ would actually call on the angels and stop the process. I don’t know–but I do wonder, don’t you? So now we’ve seen the hypocritical betrayer, the hateful crowd, the impulsive Peter, the majestic Christ, and now the cowardly . . .
#5 THE DISCIPLES Verse 50
“And they all left Him and fled.” All of them fled–they all literally escaped, including Peter. Each one of them deserted Jesus to face the religious anger alone. That’s what Jesus said they would do back in verse 27–He told them, “You will all fall away.” And instead of praying to resist that temptation, they all slept during their crucial prayer opportunity with Christ.
The disciples were ill-equipped, afraid, and unfaithful–so they fled. Zechariah 13:7 predicted this event, “Strike the Shepherd and the sheep will be scattered.” That prophecy is now fulfilled. Prayerless, inconsistent, and weak, they run for their lives. There are times with danger, God expects us to stand our ground. But the disciples fled–and so did . . .
#6 THE YOUNG MAN Verse 51 and 52
“A young man was following Him, wearing nothing but a linen sheet over his naked body; and they seized him. 52 But he pulled free of the linen sheet and escaped naked.” This is the very first streaker. There’s way too much discussion as to the identity of this young man. Suggestions include, 1) a curiosity seeker, 2) a follower, but not one of the twelve, 3) John, the brother of James, 4) James, the brother of Jesus, 5) Lazarus, 6) even an angel (who are described at times as looking like a young man).
But most believe this is John Mark, the writer of this gospel, because this interesting event is only listed in Mark’s gospel. Some speculate the Upper Room was actually Mark’s house–that Judas and the crowd went there first to find Jesus. This stirred young Mark to throw on a sheet and follow the crowd to Gethsemane. He was so captivated by what he saw, he didn’t think to flee with the disciples, and almost got caught. But we don’t know–the Bible doesn’t say.
What’s the point of this then? It’s this—everyone has deserted Christ, even the one who wrote this gospel. Our Lord is utterly alone now with His captors. Alone Jesus faces His hateful leaders. Alone He suffers. Alone He offers His life for ours. Why? So that we who trust Him as Lord and Savior will never be alone.
The flight of the young man who is stripped and flees naked into the dark night is set against our amazing Lord who is seized, stripped, but refuses to flee, and refuses to preserve Himself until the darkness of the crucifixion for our sin has passed. And all this occurs so that Mark 14:27 is entirely fulfilled. Jesus is deserted by all who would have supported Him. Yet the riptide of God’s control has accomplished God’s will, and all the prophecies of God’s Word are fulfilled exactly.
#1 Christ’s sovereignty is active even during your worst events
God’s sovereign plan in the Messiah’s death cannot be missed in these verses. Even though Jesus’ arrest was the result of human betrayal, even this was swallowed up in God’s sovereign plan for redemption. Our Lord is in complete control, is He not? Obviously, our Lord was not surprised by His arrest. Jesus already predicted His coming arrest in Mark 8, 9, and 10.
Remember Mark 10:33 to 34, “’Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles. They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him.’” This is not a surprise to Christ–He already prophesied it.
Our Lord was not surprised by Judas’s betrayal to the Sanhedrin. He just told the disciples they all would leave Him in verse 27. And Jesus even predicted Peter’s coming denial. Not one part of these horrible events is outside of God’s will. Men are responsible for their sin, but God is in charge.
Peter reminds us of this truth in Acts 2:23, “This Man [Jesus], delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God [God is in control], you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.” Men are responsible for their sin.
When people do bad things to you, be like Joseph in Genesis 50:20, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” When circumstances are brutal, respond like Paul in Romans 8:28, “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Trust God’s love, wisdom and control through your trials.
#2 Christ’s power is greater than you can imagine
Don’t feel sorry for Jesus–He is not a victim. The Lord is not a whipped puppy. Don’t be sentimental, but do be in awe and overwhelmed by the greatness of His power. He speaks His name and everyone is thrown down. With a word, He can command 72,000 angels for help, and just in case you don’t understand what it means to be the Great Physician, He heals an ear and makes it as good as new.
Standing before Christ are all the great powers of the day. The Roman army, the Temple police, the religious leaders who’ve now tied Jesus up and made Him their prisoner. But that is perceived power, not real power. The real power is God incarnate. The real authority is Christ. Listen up, non-Christian–look up here. Just because Jesus graciously and mercifully allows you to live right now does not mean you will not face Him as your all-powerful judge. There is only one way to be right with God and go to Heaven, and that is through Christ alone. Turn from your sin and depend on Christ.
#3 Christ’s Gospel changes how we treat others
I am blown away how Christ treats all the people in these verses. He is gracious to the hypocritical betrayer, impulsive Peter, the cowardly disciples, and even the arresting crowd. Why? Because all of them are made in God’s image, and I’m certain some of them will turn to Christ in faith and repentance. We’re not to judge people because they sin differently than us. Nor are we to seek vengeance against those who abuse us, but share the truth of God’s amazing work on the cross for us. Let’s pray.