ONLY THE SUFFERING SERVANT EMBRACES GOD’S PLAN FOR REDEMPTION
Our story this morning is a very simple narrative. It is a story that we can easily jump over without stopping to grasp its significance. It is a story where preachers at a loss for how to drive home the impact can fall into the trap of vain speculation:
– Imagine you were in the Garden of Gethsemane with Jesus; how would you have felt?
Who cares? It is not always all about you.
– What does it feel like to be abandoned by your close friends?
Who cares? Not why God preserved this account for us.
– Look at all of the references to clubs and swords; what does this passage teach us about gun control today? – What?? Now we are bordering on the ridiculous
Missing the point entirely!
Structure of passage shows us the emphasis – same verb used twice – vv. 50, 52 “fled” – even though translated differently in the English
Everybody abandons Jesus; Jesus ends up standing alone to face the suffering that lies ahead for him.
Abandonment: To withdraw one’s support or help from, especially in spite of duty, allegiance, or responsibility; desert: abandon a friend in trouble
Highlights the nature of the sacrifice for sin made by our Passover Lamb:
– He is the only sinless substitute that could propitiate the wrath of the Father
– He laid down His life voluntarily; not as some victim of circumstances
– He laid down His life in complete obedience to the will of His Heavenly Father
– He shed His blood to atone for our sins and provide us with undeserved forgiveness
Contrasting responses to this account of betrayal and unjust arrest:
– On the part of Jesus
– On the part of His closest disciples
– On the part of some unidentified follower
The events culminating God’s eternally decreed Plan for Redemption are now rapidly unfolding.
I. (:43-46) THE VOLUNTARY SURRENDER OF JESUS TO THE TREACHEROUS BETRAYAL OF JUDAS AND THE MASSIVE FORCE OF THE ARRESTING AUTHORITIES
A. (:43-45) The Complex Scheming
1. (:43) The Arresting Army
“And immediately while He was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, came up, accompanied by a multitude with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.”
Follows directly after vs. 42 “behold, the one who betrays me is at hand” – Jesus knew exactly what was taking place and fully embraced the Father’s will; ready to move forward towards the onrushing arresting authorities – they came upon Him “immediately”
Now the rapid pace of events will be intensified; no let up in the action; no time for peace and rest and contemplation
Constable: Part of the crowd consisted of Jewish temple police (Luke 22:52) and Roman soldiers (John 18:12). The police carried clubs and the soldiers had short swords.
Cohort = 600 soldiers from the nearby fort in Jerusalem
All the 3 different elements of the Sanhedrin represented here; this was the group that had commissioned both the temple police and the Roman soldiers
Eager to seize on this opportunity to capture Jesus quietly away from the crowd of pilgrims visiting the city for Passover
How far has Judas fallen? “one of the twelve” – position of such privilege; only accentuates his moral degeneration
2. (:44) The Subtle Signal
“Now he who was betraying Him had given them a signal, saying, ‘Whomever I shall kiss, He is the one; seize Him, and lead Him away under guard.’”
Ps. 2:11 sign of reverence towards the Son now used as feigned sign of reverence
No Most Wanted series on TV where the face of the fugitive can be broadcast around the world; no posters hung up on post office walls; no internet to provide his picture and make him easy to identify
Could not afford to make any mistake here and arrest the wrong man
3. (:45) The Expected Execution of the Plan
“And after coming, he immediately went to Him,
saying, ‘Rabbi!’ and kissed Him.”
Kiss should be a mark of intimacy and friendship, but here used of betrayal
Kataphileo – expression of friendship and love; intensive form of the word; not some quick peck on the cheek; holding the kiss so that the identification could be clearly made
Hiebert: kissed him fervently – apparently, the kiss was prolonged with a show of affection so that those with him would have ample time to note Jesus’ identity.
B. (:46) The Simple Capture
“And they laid hands on Him, and seized Him.”
Mark does not record here the power that Jesus had upon the approaching authorities
John 18:6 “they drew back and fell to the ground” when He willingly identified Himself
Not without fear and trepidation that the laid hands on Him and seized Him; only could do that if Jesus voluntarily submitted to such rude treatment
II. (:47-50) THE CONFLICTED RESPONSE OF THE INNER CIRCLE OF DISCIPLES
A. (:47) Misguided Defense – Violent Resistance
“But a certain one of those who stood by drew his sword,
and struck the slave of the high priest, and cut off his ear.”
Peter and the disciples had not tried to flee yet; the events were unfolding so suddenly; no time to think things through; Peter took immediate action; went after a significant target; How was he able to escape capture?
Constable: He had not only boasted too much (vv. 29, 31), and prayed too little (vv. 37, 40, 41), but he also acted too violently.
(:48-49) ASIDE – Response of Jesus
1. (:48-49a) Criticism of Wrong Characterization
a. No Need for Massive Force
“And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me, as against a robber?’”
Were your expectations that I am some type of political revolutionary that has galvanized powerful forces and armed them with powerful weapons to try to wage war against the Roman government?
You have had opportunity to observe my character; how can you treat me as a common criminal?
Hiebert: While quietly submitting to the arrest, He protested its manner. His protest was directed against the religious leaders promoting the arrest.
Hendriksen: the word “answered” does not always mean “replied verbally to a question”; it may also mean, as here, “reacted to a situation.”
b. No Need for Elaborate Scheming
“Every day I was with you in the temple teaching,
and you did not seize Me;”
Very open and public ministry; consistent track record; easy to find him and have direct contact with him; no need to come out in the darkness of night searching for Him in obscure places as if He is a fugitive in hiding
He ministered right at the center of their sphere of influence; their home turf
2. (:49b) Submission to God’s Plan
“but this has happened that the Scriptures might be fulfilled.”
Key statement undergirding all of the events taking place in this final Passion Week – OT prophecies regarding the Suffering Servant were being fulfilled in detail – no mystery or surprises; exactly what God had pre-determined would happen; all part of His glorious plan of redemption; gives us hope regarding the as yet unfulfilled prophecies of the future return of Christ and the glorious kingdom He will establish on earth; God has not forgotten His promises – to the nation of Israel; to the people of God
B. (:50) Unified Abandonment
“And they all left Him and fled.”
Final frame is Jesus standing alone
Not the finest hour for the disciples – despite their protestations that they would follow Him even to death and would never deny Him.
III. (:51-52) THE CONFLICTED RESPONSE OF A FOLLOWER OF CHRIST
A. Curious Onlooker
1. Unidentified Follower
“And a certain young man was following Him,”
William Barclay: It may be that Mark was actually present at the Last Supper. He was young, just a boy, and maybe no one really noticed him. But he was fascinated with Jesus and when the company went out into the dark, he slipped out after them when he ought to have been in bed, with only the linen sheet over his naked body. It may be that all the time Mark was there in the shadows listening and watching. That would explain where the Gethsemane narrative came from. If the disciples were all asleep how did anyone know about the struggle of soul that Jesus had there? It may be that the one witness was Mark as he stood silent in the shadows, watching with a boy’s reverence the greatest hero he had ever known.
Edwards: In light of the meagerness of information, speculation about the identity of the lad is pointless. Mark’s leaving him unidentified appears to be intentional and purposeful. The young man represents all who flew in desperation when mayhem broke out at the arrest of Jesus. This particular story speaks for all present. His lack of identity also invites readers to examine their own readiness to abandon Jesus. The prophecy of Amos has come to pass among all of Jesus’ followers: “Even the bravest of warriors will flee naked on that day,” declares the Lord (2:16).
2. Urgent Follower
“wearing nothing but a linen sheet over his naked body;”
Not all bible stories are suitable for reenactment in Sunday School.
Constable: He was wearing a rather costly linen outer garment (Gr. sindon) without an undergarment (Gr. chiton). It may have been his sleeping garment.
Only other NT usage – sindon
Mark 15:46 “And Joseph bought a linen cloth, took Him down, wrapped Him in the linen cloth, and laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.”
B. Dangerous Predicament
“and they seized him.”
Quite a contrast in how they were armed to the teeth and he was barely clothed
Quite a contrast in terms of how he resisted capture and how Jesus submitted voluntarily
C. Total Abandonment
“But he left the linen sheet behind, and escaped naked.”
If we had been there, we would have fled as well.
Constable: This incident makes little contribution to the story of Jesus’ arrest, apart from illustrating that everyone fled. Therefore some of the church fathers and most of the modern commentators have concluded that the young man was Mark, the writer of this Gospel. However, there is no solid evidence for this.
MacArthur: What’s the point? The point is, Jesus is alone. Everybody’s gone. The Apostles are gone and even a sort of, I don’t know, a normal follower of Jesus, just a guy who saw what was going on and the more he saw, the more he knew and he was a follower. He was following Him. Get closer and closer and closer and he’s gone too. It’s just to show that there’s no one left…no one left.
Like the simple dance played out in children’s parties .. The Farmer in the Dell …
“The cheese stands alone”
ABANDONMENT LEAVES JESUS ALL ALONE
– Jesus stands alone
– Jesus stands Tall; does not shrink back but is there voluntarily
– Jesus stands Bravely, courageously, boldly, with backbone
– Jesus stands in our place, taking our punishment that we deserved to take
– Jesus stands ultimately as a Champion, not a Victim but a Victorious Warrior