Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as written and recorded by John Mark. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses fifty-three through sixty-five of the fourteenth chapter. When you come to this passage of scripture you will find the night of Jesus’ betrayal taking shape and taking an even greater form than previously written. By the time you come to this particular time within the night you will find the fellowship and communion of the upper room having drawn to a close. When you come to this particular event within the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mark you will find the Passover meal that was partaken of—the bread and the cup—having already been enjoyed and experienced by the disciples together with Jesus the Christ. You will find the hymn that they sung to close out their time of fellowship drawing to a close and the time of the betrayer drawing nearer than it was before. WHEN THE SINGING END AND THR FELLOWSHIP CEASES! I happen to find it incredibly interesting and intriguing when reading this passage of scripture that the time and the experience of the upper room not only included partaking of the Passover meal, but it also included a hymn which was sung by Jesus and His disciples. I can’t help but think about this and consider that when the fellowship drew to a close, when the song had been sung, and when the disciples together with Jesus left the upper room, that’s when the betrayed had full and complete access to Jesus the Christ. I am convinced that Judas would not have led the small insurgent and contingent of soldiers with swords and staves into the upper room where the disciples partook of the Passover meal with Jesus the Christ. There is not a doubt in my mind that Judas departed from the upper room after having partaken of the Passover meal, and after having his feet washed by Jesus in order that He might carry out and enact his own conspiracy which he plotted together with the chief priests and scribes. For Judas, he had had enough after partaking if the bread and the cup, and even after experiencing Jesus washing his feet there in the upper room. Once the Passover meal had drawn to a close, Judas decided to depart from the room itself in order that He might meet up with the chief priests and scribes in order that He might lead them to the place where Jesus and His disciples would be.
As I sit here this morning and read and consider the events which took place and transpired on the final night of Jesus’ passion, I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that betrayal came and would come after the fellowship and communion of the bread and the cup had drawn to a close. I can’t help but consider the fact that the betrayal of Jesus Christ in the garden would take place after they disciples together with Jesus would sing a hymn. What’s more, is that the betrayal of Jesus would take place—not while Jesus was in the upper room with His disciples, but rather when Jesus and His disciples were in the garden of gethsemane. It would be after worship and fellowship had drawn to a close, and after the doors were shut behind them that Jesus would become exposed and vulnerable to the betrayal of one who had walked with and followed Him for three plus years. Am convinced there is something incredibly intriguing and challenging about this particular reality and concept, for it brings us face to face with the tremendous reality of what oftentimes happens within our lives once the worship has ceased, once the fellowship and communion with Jesus the Christ has drawn to a close, and once the doors of the building in which we worshipped the living Father close behind us. How many times have the doors barely closed behind us before we almost immediately find ourselves entering into an intense struggle and and intense conflict within our lives? How many times have you experienced a tremendous time in fellowship and communion with Jesus the Christ in the house of God, and yet almost immediately after the doors shut behind you after leaving the house you find yourself thrust into an intense period of conflict and struggle within your life? How many times have you walked out of the house or the Lord and let the doors close behind you—only to find yourself in the midst of what is perhaps one of the most intense struggles and conflicts you potentially have ever faced? How many times have you left the place of communion and fellowship only to find that you are almost immediately targeted, assaulted and assailed by the adversary? The doors have barely closed behind you after leaving the house and you have found yourself almost immediately thrust into an intense period conflict, strife and contention. Consider if you will that which is written and recorded within this particular chapter beginning with the seventeenth verse in order to get a true picture of that which took place on this particular night of Jesus’ passion:
“And in the evening he cometh with the twelve. And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with me shall betray me. And they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto him one by one, Is it I? And another said, Is it i? And he answered and said unto them, It is one of the twelve, that dippeth with me in the dish. The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! Good were it for that man if he had never been born. And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. And He took the cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And He said unto them, This is my blood of the New Testament which is shed for many. Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God. And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered. But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee. But Peter said unto Him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I. And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all. And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray. And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; and saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And He said, ABBA, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt. And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepiest thou? Couldest not thou watch one hour? Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak. And again he went away, and prayed, and spake the same words. And when he returned, he found them asleep again, (for their eyes were heavy,) neither wrist they what to answer him. And he cometh the third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise up, let us go; lo, he that betrayeth me is at hand. And immediately, while he yet spake, cometh Judas, one of the twelve, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. And he that betrayed him had given them a token, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he; take him, and lead him away safely. And as soon as he was come, he goeth straightway to him, and saith, Master, master; and kissed him. And they laid their hands on him, and took him” (Mark 14:17-46).
It is quite clear when reading this particular passage of Scripture that on the final night of Jesus’ passion He partook of the Passover meal with His disciples, and even blessed and brake bread and distributed it unto the disciples. On the final night of Jesus’ passion Jesus took the cup of the wine and gave it unto His disciples in order that they might drink of it. What’s more, is that after Jesus and His disciples had partaken of the Passover meal, had drank of the cup, and had eaten the bread that was present there in the upper room, they had sung a hymn with Jesus. Immediately after they had partaken of and enjoyed fellowship and communion with Jesus the Christ there in the upper room, and after they had sang a hymn or psalm, they went out into the mount of Olives, which was outside of Jerusalem. I am convinced that it is necessary for us to recognize and understand this particular reality, for although Jesus knew that He would be betrayed on this night, that betrayal would not take place there in the upper room. The betrayal which Jesus would experience on this particular night would not take place while they partook of the bread, nor would it take place while they partook of the cup. The betrayal which Jesus would experience and find Himself experiencing on this particular night would take place outside the upper room, and in the very garden of Gethsemane—a sacred and solemn place for Jesus and His disciples. Undoubtedly, this particular garden was a place that was used by Jesus—perhaps even used by Jesus and His disciples—for Judas was aware of this place, and that Jesus would undoubtedly be there with His disciples. Judas would not lead the insurgent and contingent of soldiers armed with swords and staves into the upper room, and he would not march upon and march into the upper room, but would instead wait until they had departed from the upper room and were more exposed and vulnerable. Judas would lead the soldiers which were dispatched by the chief priests, scribes and elders into the garden—into the place of prayer and conflict—rather than than leading them into the place of communion and fellowship. Oh that we would recognize and understand that the garden—although it was in fact a place of prayer before and unto the Father who was in heaven—was a place of tremendous and intense conflict and warfare, as Jesus Himself wrestled with the divine will of the Father, and that which the Father had called and was calling Him to do. We dare not miss and lose sight of the fact that the garden of Gethsemane was for all intents and purposes a battleground where Jesus would not only pray before and pray unto His Father in heaven, but He would also invite the disciples Peter, James and John to join Him in the struggle and the conflict. I still cannot escape the fact that when Jesus entered into the garden of Gethsemane, He invited the remaining eleven disciples to the place of the conflict and struggle, yet He chose to only invite Peter, James and John into the place of the conflict and struggle. There is not a doubt in my mind that when Jesus took with Him Peter, James and John into the garden with Him—that which He was doing was inviting them to partake of the struggle and partake of the conflict which He was about to engage in.
When reading the account of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane I previously wrote concerning Jesus inviting the disciples with Him into the struggle and conflict which He faced before the Father, and it would be incredibly wise and prudent of us to consider this particular reality. We dare not miss and lose sight of the fact that when Jesus brought Peter, James and John with Him as He entered into the garden, what He was doing was inviting them to partake of the struggle and conflict there in the garden. What’s more, is that Jesus was not only aware of the struggle and conflict He Himself would face there in the garden, but He also knew the temptation and conflict the disciples themselves would face. If you read the account of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane you will find that Jesus first instructed the first eight disciples to sit in a certain place while He went further on into the garden and prayed before and prayed unto the Father who was in heaven. Taking Peter, James and John with Him a little further into the garden He declared unto them how His soul was exceeding sorrowful unto death, and then instructed them to tarry in the place where he left them and watch. What’s important for us to recognize and come to terms with is that when Jesus came back to find the disciples sleeping, He spoke directly unto Peter and asked whether or not they could watch one hour. What’s more, is that Jesus would go on to instruct them this second time to watch and pray, and to do so in order that they might not enter into temptation. Please don’t miss and lose sight of the tremendous significance of what took place in the garden, for while on the first occasion Jesus instructed them simply to watch, on the second occasion Jesus instructed them to both watch and to pray. Where this becomes interesting is that this first time Jesus came back to them He instructed them to watch and pray lest they fall into temptation. I am convinced it is absolutely necessary for us to recognize and understand this concept of the disciples watching and praying lest they enter into temptation, for while the struggle and conflict in the garden was present within the life of Jesus the Christ, there was a need for the disciples themselves to watch and pray. There was a need for the disciples themselves to watch and pray in order that they might not enter into temptation—the temptation to forsake Jesus the Christ and each flee their own ways. The temptation there in the garden was to become offended, and so much so that we would later read of how Peter took a sword and struck off the ear of the servant of the high priest there in the garden. That which we find present within the garden was a very real declaration of temptation for the disciples, and perhaps the single greatest reason why Jesus instructed them to not only watch, but also to watch and to pray. Jesus knew and understood the tremendous temptation that the disciples would face once His betrayer entered into the garden, and once they saw the insurgent of soldiers armed with swords and staves, and Jesus desired that they be ready and prepared for when their own hour of temptation came. There is not a doubt in my mind that there wasn’t simply a conflict and struggle for Jesus alone there in the garden, but there was also a conflict and struggle within the hearts and lives of the disciples, for as you continue reading, you will find that all the disciples forsook him and fled, and that one of the disciples even fled naked having left the linen cloth which was wrapped upon his body behind.
It is worth noting and pointing out when reading this particular passage of Scripture that while it is true that Jesus invited the disciples into the conflict and struggle with Him, the disciples themselves would face their own temptation, their own conflict, and their own struggle. There in the garden certain of the disciples were instructed to sit and watch while Jesus went further into the garden to pray, while Peter, James and John were instructed to watch and pray lest they enter into temptation. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this tremendous and incredible reality, for it brings us face to face with the tremendous fact that there in the garden—not only were the disciples invited into the conflict which Jesus Himself experienced, but they were also brought into their own conflict, their own struggle, and their own temptation. There in the garden the disciples Peter, James and John would find themselves staring directly at their own hour of temptation, for they would have to make the decision whether or not they would stand by the side of Jesus, and remain with Him, or whether or not they would forsake Him and flee their own ways. Of course Scripture reveals unto us that when the hour came for Jesus to be betrayed by one of His own, and when the hour came for Jesus to be seized and laid hold of by those who would come again ask him with swords and staves, the disciples would have to decide whether or not they would panic and allow themselves to be given into fear, thus causing them to forsake Jesus and flee; or, would they remain steadfast, resolute and confident in Jesus the Christ and remain with Him through and unto the end. Scripture points to the reality that all the disciples—including Peter who declared that He would never deny Jesus the Christ—forsook Him and fled. It might be said that at least Peter attempted to put up a fight, for he was the one whom Scripture describes as taking up the sword and striking off the ear of the servant of the high priest. What’s worth noting about this, however, is that not only did Jesus instruct Peter to put the sword away, but Jesus also performed a miracle there in the garden by healing this man’s ear who had just been cut off. There in the garden—despite the fact that He was just betrayed by one of His own, and despite the fact that soldiers came against with swords and staves—Jesus still offered healing for one who was present among those who would come against Him in order to lay hold of and seize Him by force. When Jesus instructed Peter, James and John to watch and pray lest they enter into temptation, Jesus was very much aware that this hour wasn’t merely important and significant for Him, but it would also be incredibly important and significant for the disciples as well. It was true that Jesus invited the disciples into His own struggle, and into his own conflict there in the garden, but it was also true that the disciples themselves would have their own bout with temptation on this particular night.
I find it absolutely incredible that while it was true that Jesus invited certain of the disciples with Him to the place of the conflict and struggle, He invited others with Him into the place of conflict and struggle. What’s more, is that Jesus deliberately and intentionally spoke unto Peter, James and John and instructed them to watch and pray lest they enter into temptation. Jesus recognized, knew and understood that just as surely and just as certainly as He Himself was thrust into an intense conflict and struggle there in the garden, so also were His disciples thrust into an intense period of temptation. It’s worth noting that His hour of conflict, his hour of struggle, His hour of intense agony would also be their hour of temptation, for they would be faced with how they would react when the One they walked with, the One they followed for three and a half years would be seized and laid hold of by those who would enter into the garden. It was true that Jesus’ soul was exceeding sorrowful, and that He was sore amazed and heavy, and it was true that Jesus invited the disciples to partake in some degree and measure of His struggle and conflict, however, one thing we must recognize and understand is that despite the fact that Jesus would face his own struggle and conflict, the disciples would also themselves face an intense period of temptation. When Jesus spoke unto the disciples and instructed them to watch and pray, He recognized and understood that they would be faced with the tremendous decision whether or not they would forsake Him and flee, or whether or not they would remain and abide with Him. It’s actually quite interesting to think about and consider the fact that there was essentially two different periods of time where the disciples would forsake all for the sake of Jesus. On the one hand we find the disciples forsaking all in order that they might walk with and follow Jesus, but on the other hand you would find the disciples forsaking Jesus there in the garden in order that they might go their own way. On the one hand you would find an initial forsaking of everything the disciples had and knew in order that they might walk with and follow Jesus, but on the other hand you will find the disciples forsaking Jesus Himself—albeit for a short period of time—in order that they might go their own ways. Filled and consumed with fear, terror and dread after witnessing Jesus being seized by soldiers armed with staves and swords, the disciples themselves would forsake Jesus and would each flee their own ways. Only Peter—according to the gospel account written by Mark—would follow Jesus, and even that only afar off. Once the soldiers laid hold of and seized Jesus, all the disciples forsook Jesus and fled, while Peter chose to follow the events which would unfold from a distance. It was true Peter would still follow Jesus to a certain degree, however, Peter would follow Jesus afar off—perhaps as a spectator and bystander in order that He might see what would take place and become of Jesus.
As you continue reading in the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as written and recorded by John Mark you will find that after the soldiers which laid hold of and seized Jesus had led Him away, they led Him away unto the high priest who was assembled together with all the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel. It’s actually quite interesting and intriguing that we consider this particular reality, for while it was true that Jesus was betrayed in the garden by one of His own disciples, that betrayal didn’t immediately lead to the suffering which Jesus would face and experience. The betrayal of Jesus there in the garden would open the door fort the suffering which Jesus would endure and experience—and would ultimately lead to His trial, his condemnation, and death—however, Jesus didn’t immediately transition from betrayal to suffering, nor would Jesus immediately transition from betrayal to death. If you read the gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will find that after Jesus was betrayed, He was immediately led away and brought before the religious community, and brought before the religious system in order that they might find place to accuse Him. Once Jesus was betrayed by one of His own there in the garden, Jesus would then be led to the house of the high priest of that time where he would already be assembled with the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of Israel. This is actually quite interesting and intriguing, for while it was true that Jesus was betrayed there in the garden, it is also true that His betrayal didn’t immediately lead to the suffering which He Himself spoke of when teaching His disciples concerning His suffering, His death, and His being mocked, scorned and ridiculed. On the night in which Jesus was betrayed He wouldn’t immediately find Himself facing and experience the suffering which He knew would be inevitable, but would instead find Himself standing before the religious leaders, and standing face to face with His accusers. FROM THE BETRAYER TO THE ACCUSERS! As you read this particular account of Scripture you will find that Jesus came face to face with His betrayer there in the garden, and as a direct result of coming face to face with His betrayer, He would then find Himself coming face to face with His accusers—those who sought to accuse Him of wrongdoing, and some type of evil which they perceived Him as committing during His three and a half years of public ministry. Jesus’ betrayal wouldn’t immediately bring Him face to face with the suffering He would endure and experience, but would first bring Him face to face with His accusers—brought face to face with the accusation of religion. THE BETRAYAL OF FELLOWSHIP AND THE ACCUSATION OF RELIGION! I know that I have written concerning this before, but it’s actually worth mentioning one more time how the betrayal of relationship actually conspired together and worked with the accusation of religion, for Judas’ betrayal would ultimately lead Jesus to the place where He would find Himself brought face to face with those who not only would seek to accuse Him on this night, but those who have sought to accuse Him throughout the course of His ministry.
If we are to truly understand that which took place within this passage of Scripture it is absolutely necessary that we recognize that while Jesus was betrayed in the garden by one of His own, He wouldn’t immediately find Himself experiencing suffering, but would instead find Himself experiencing the accusation of religion. Jesus wouldn’t immediately find Himself experiencing the scorn, the mockery, and the suffering and oppression which He knew would come, but He would first find Himself coming face to face with His accusers. Pause for a moment and consider that reality, for it actually brings causes us to encounter the reality that while betrayal might in fact open the door for further suffering and oppression, we might find ourselves staring into the faces of those who not only have sought to accuse us in the past, but also those who would accuse us in the present. When Jesus entered into the house of the high priest—not only would He come face to face with those would have accused Him previously, but Jesus would also find Himself coming face to face with those who would accuse Him afresh and anew this night. Mark would record how when Jesus stood before the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel, He would find Himself standing before those who would seek for witness against Him in order that they might put Him to death. We must recognize and understand that this was ultimately that which the chief priests, the scribes and the elders sought and desired concerning Jesus the Christ, for they didn’t merely seek to remove Him from the picture, but they sought to utterly and completely destroy Him. The religious community sought and desired that they might utterly and completely destroy Jesus, and that they might Him to death, and on this particular night they sought to move beyond accusation to actually finding witness against Jesus in order that they might finally put Him to death and rid the earth and rid the world of Him. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this incredible reality, for it brings us face to face with the fact that not only would Jesus find Himself staring into the faces of those who would accuse Him, but Jesus would also find Himself staring into the faces of those who would seek to find witness against Him. We must recognize and understand that although Jesus was betrayed in the garden of Gethsemane, that betrayal wouldn’t immediately lead Him to his suffering, and ultimately His death, but would instead lead Him to the place where He would come face to face with and stand before those who would accuse Him and those who would seek false witness against Him. Oh that we would read that which is found within this passage of Scripture and that we would understand the reality of betrayal within our lives, but also that betrayal might very well cause us to appear before and stare directly into the faces of those who would accuse us, as well as experience those closest to us forsaking us, thus leaving us all alone. When Jesus stood before His accusers and those who would seek to find witness against Him, He would stand—not accompanied with and by His disciples, but would stand completely and utterly alone as those who sought to find witness against Him, and as those who sought to accuse Him would hurl and lobby their insults and attacks against Him. What we must come to terms with is that there are times within our lives when—although we invite others to join us in the struggle and conflict—we find ourselves standing before and standing face to face with our accusers and those who would seek to destroy us completely and utterly alone. When Jesus stood before the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of Israel, He wouldn’t stand with the disciples standing side by side together with Him, but would stand there completely and utterly alone. Oh that we would find the strength, the courage, and the boldness to be able to stand before and to stand face to face with our accusers and those who would seek to destroy us through their lies, their false testimony, and their false witness.