Introduction: Welcome to Expound our weekly worship and verse by verse study of the Bible. Our goal is to expand your knowledge of the truth of God as we explore the Word of God in a way that is interactive, enjoyable, and congregational.
Skip Heitzig: Turn in your Bibles to Mark, chapter 14. Speaking of the whole counsel of God, welcome to Expound where we explore and expound God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times. And I believe that no church can claim to equip their congregation with the whole counsel of God unless this kind of teaching takes place, where you actually as a congregation go through all of the Bible, so we do that.
And that's why Wednesday night of all of the meetings of the weekly palette, this is my favorite. This is the heartbeat of it all. So, we saw last week that Mark 14 is a rather lengthy chapter. There are seventy-two verses, and we did about half. So, we'll pray and we'll get started.
Father, anybody can say things to you, or sing things to you, and feel really good, and call that worship. But it just seems that the truest form of worship is when we are willing to subject ourselves to what you have to say when you speak to us, and we are willing to submit ourselves to the hearing of your voice, your truth, your Word. And then the walk away from that and say, "By God's grace, that's going to become a part of my life."
And so, Father, we continue our worship. Worship was so great, and we felt by those words and the music ushered into your very presence. But now, Father, in your presence we pray that your Holy Spirit would take these words written by Mark, testimony about Jesus Christ, and bring us to an understanding and a maturity, in Jesus' name, amen.
It was Martin Luther who once said, "You can't stop the birds from flying around your head, but you can certainly stop them from building a nest in your hair." [laughter] But there's a Jewish proverb that's sort of like that, that is more applicable to what we're about to read. The Jewish proverb says, "The devil comes to us in our hour of darkness, but you don't have to let him in." Now I begin with that because the scene that we're about to read is a scene of darkness.
Darkness looms over this entire setting physically as well as spiritually. It is nighttime, and nighttime the night accentuates the spiritual darkness that is going on. Satan is very involved in this night. Judas is very in tune with the will of Satan. All the while the will of God, the sovereign will of God is being done despite all of that.
You may recall that when Jesus was tempted by the devil out in the wilderness at the beginning of his ministry, Luke, chapter 4, spells it out so beautifully, saying that, "When Satan had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time." It's a key phrase. Satan said, "I'm done here, but I'll be back." He waited for the right time, the right moment, an opportune time for him to come back and introduce and interject himself into the life of Christ.
Question is: What was the opportune time? Well, one time was several months later when Jesus was up at Caesarea Philippi with his disciples, and said, "Who do men say that I am? Who do you say that I am?" We've been through that story. And after that whole identification, Jesus then announced that he would be going to Jerusalem, that the plan of the Father was that he himself be delivered into the hands of the chief priests, be killed. He would die, but he would rise again on the third day.
Peter began to rebuke Jesus, "Never, never! We're never going let this happen to you, Lord. Far be it from you, Lord." And if you recall, Jesus gave him a response that must have taken Peter's breath away. "Get behind me, Satan!" "Whoa, you just said, 'Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah.' Dude, what's up with the 'Get behind me, Satan!'?" Because Peter in saying what he said was voicing the will of Satan. Satan in his theology never has place for the cross.
So, when he tempted Jesus on that mountain at the beginning of Jesus' ministry, he tried to persuade Jesus, "You don't have to go the way of the cross. You don't have to go the hard way. Just bow down before me now. I'll give you what you came for. You came for the world; I'll give it to you. For it is mine and I can give it to whomsoever I will," trying to keep Jesus from the cross.
So, here is Peter saying, "We're not going let you go to the cross that you just predicted." "Get behind me, Satan!" It's as if Jesus looks at Peter and says, "I recognize that voice. I recognize that counsel. That is the counsel of Satan himself. You're not thinking like God thinks, but you're thinking like man thinks, Peter." That was an opportune time.
The second time is here in the garden of Gethsemane in this time of darkness. The parallel account to this chapter in the parallel account of Luke when Jesus is in the garden of Gethsemane---and by the way, all four gospels will tell us the denial of Peter denying Jesus after this whole event in the garden. When Luke tells the story and Jesus is in the garden when they come to arrest him, and he says, "Look, I was with you publicly in the temple and I was teaching and you didn't arrest me," but then he said, "But this is your hour and the power of darkness. This is your hour and the time when darkness reigns. You are cooperating with the powers of darkness to even see this event to its end."
Now, as we pick up, and we left off in verse 26, so that's where we'll pick up where we left off. Jesus will leave the upper city of Jerusalem and go to one of his favorite spots, the garden of Gethsemane. It has become over the years one of my favorite spots on the face of the earth. I've gone to Jerusalem many times. I've done thirty-five different trips over there.
When I get there in the afternoon, typically is when we get in, and people go to the hotel and they freshen up. And they're kind of tired from the day. And they may want to explore a little bit of the city and then go bed. I will often leave the crowd and go alone or with a friend or maybe a small group. And I know the route so well that Jesus took that I take the same route. It's usually at night. And I leave the city gate, go around the city walls, go down into the Kidron Valley while it is dark. Nobody's there.
Cross the little, what used to be the Brook Kidron, and go into the garden of Gethsemane. Now there's a wall and there's a gate. They try to keep people out. But usually at night they can't---they don't have cameras there, so I just hop the wall. [laughter] I don't mean any harm. I'm not going to vandalize anything. And I just sit among the olive trees in the garden of Gethsemane and I just pray. It's something I've looked forward to, because I remember from the Scriptures it was one of the favorite hangouts of Jesus. Of course, he didn't have to hop the wall and it wasn't a barred gate. It was just a known area on the Mount of Olives. But it's become one of my favorite spots.
So, it says in verse 26, "When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives." They went to the garden of Gethsemane. The garden of Gethsemane is part of the Mount of Olives. So, leaving the upper city of Jerusalem, which would be the northwest side, they would have gone around the city walls like I just described.
In those days, at the time of Jesus, the historians tell us there was a little brook at the bottom of the valley, the Kidron Brook that was flowing with a little bit of water because of the spring and the winter rains. But also because of the sacrifices in the temple during Passover that that little stream, that Brook Kidron had blood in it, the blood of the lambs being sacrificed in the temple.
A conduit went out from underneath the Temple Mount and emptied into the Brook Kidron to convey the blood away from the city of Jerusalem. So, just imagine the imagery of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, stepping over the Brook Kidron flowing with the blood of lambs from the Passover sacrifices with his disciples, knowing that within hours he would be the Lamb slain once for all. Impactful. Amazing. So, Jesus goes to that part of the Mount of Olives.
On the other side of the Mount of Olives would be where Lazarus, Martha, and Mary lived in Bethany also on the Mount of Olives. It's a large area.
But Jesus goes to the garden of Gethsemane. So, after the Last Supper, after the Passover, he's in the garden of Gethsemane. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself: Why a garden? Why does this take place in a garden? I believe it's emblematic. I believe it's pregnant with imagery. Human history began in a garden. Human sin and failure began in a garden. Human history will culminate---you might say the pinnacle of our existence will be in the garden city of the New Jerusalem, Revelation, chapter 22.
So in between the garden of Eden, where man failed, and the garden city of the New Jerusalem, where God reigns, is this very important garden scene, the garden of Gethsemane. In the garden of Eden the first Adam was overcome by sin; in the garden of Gethsemane the second Adam, Jesus Christ, overcame sin. In the garden of Eden, Adam fled, ran from God; in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus Christ the last Adam---First Corinthians 15 calls him the "last Adam"---presented himself to the Father for the Father's will, very emblematic. A garden, not by accident, I believe, but by design.
"Then Jesus said to them [his disciples], 'All of you will be made to stumble because of me this night, for it is written: "I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered." But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.' " He is quoting now the prophet Zechariah. Zechariah's prophecies play a very important role in predicting the Messiah in his first as well as his second coming.
Zechariah, chapter 13, this is a direct quote: "Strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will scatter." Based upon that, he is saying, "I am predicting that that will be fulfilled when all of you flake out on me." This is as if to say, "You're going to run from me before I die; I'm going run after you after I'm raised from the dead. I'm going to go before you into Galilee."
"Peter said to him, 'Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be.' " That's his first step downward---self-confidence. "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.' But he," he being Peter, "spoke more vehemently, 'If I have to die with you, I will not deny you!' And they all said likewise."
So, Peter once again the spokesperson, always listed first in the list of the apostles, and often the one who speaks up. And I'm sure a lot of people were thinking things; Peter vocalized them. And he was a leader among them, because he said it. And they said, "Yeah, what he said. Yeah, we agree."
"They all said likewise," but Peter came up with it first. "And then they came to a place which is called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, 'Sit here while I pray.' " Now, just notice what he said. He said, "Just sit here while I pray." He didn't say, "Boys, I want you to come and pray with me." We often interpret that, you know, they should have been praying, and they should have been. But Jesus just said, "Look, I just want you to be with me. I don't want you to do anything for me right now or with me; I just want you to be with me while I pray. Sit here while I pray."
So often it is so hard for us to sit with Jesus. We're good at doing things for him, but sometimes, "Just be with me," he would say. "Just be in my presence. Just enjoy my presence." I would encourage you to make time in your day to sit with the Lord. And you might have a prescribed early morning devotion. We call it a "quiet time." And you're regimented a certain way, and that's fine, but just to be in his presence, and say, "Lord, you know, I don't have a lot of stuff right now. I just want to tell you I love you, and it's great being with you, and I want to enjoy intimacy with you." I think the Lord loves that. I think he delights in that. "Just sit with me."
So, "They came to this place called Gethsemane." Now if you were to go to Gethsemane today, besides hopping over the wall, which I do sometimes, next to it is a church, a beautiful church called the Church of All Nations. The windows are made out of carved alabaster very thinly cut to let dim light from the sun come in and light the inside of it. It has been preserved for a long, long time.
And though that's a great spot, I'm really not a guy who likes to go into churches and go, "Wow, look at this cool church." Because typically most churches to me of ancient genre kind of all look like old churches. But for me to go into that garden next to it where the olive tree are just growing---it's private property and they are still growing trees---is what it would have looked like back then. So that's why we do show people the church, but we often have our Bible studies and our worship time next to it just under the olive trees.
Gethsemane---you're familiar with the name. If you're a Bible student, you've read it dozens of times reading through the Scripture. But do you know what Gethsemane means? It comes from two words in Hebrew: gat which means "press"; and sh'manim which means "olives," it's a masculine plural for olives. So it really means "the olive press." Gat sh'manim transliterated in English, Gethsemane, simply means "the place of the olive press."
They grew olive trees. They had an olive business. They would harvest the olives. They would crush the olives. They would make olive oil. Now, olive oil was made by taking two stones, part of the press, an upper stone which would revolve around the lower stone. And anything between two stones pretty easily gets crushed. When the olives were crushed, the oil that comes from the pits of olives is gathered into the channel and conveyed and bottled and sold. That's the olive business.
The real value of the olive comes when it's crushed. You can eat the olives, but the real money in this business is the crushing of the olives. The value comes from the crushing. Now, again, I want you to think emblematically for a moment. If you know your Bible, you know that sometimes the Holy Spirit is given the emblem of oil, that oil is emblematic of the Holy Spirit. And Jesus promised that after he would leave, he would send the Holy Spirit to work in all of us in the body of Christ. But first, before the oil flows, the olive has to be crushed.
When the olive is crushed, when that pit is crushed and the oil is exuded, that's when the value comes. Jesus first came and was crushed. Isaiah 53, "He was wounded for our transgression," the NIV says, "he was crushed"---that's the literal translation---"for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed." Jesus crushed for us. "God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be the righteousness of God in him," Second Corinthians 5:21 tells us. There's the value. Jesus came to be crushed; the oil of the Holy Spirit can then flow.
Verse 33, "And he took Peter, James, and John," James and John were brothers, "with him, and he began to be troubled and deeply distressed. And then he said to them, 'My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.' "
Peter, James, and John, the familiar trio, the inner circle, we might say. Now, I don't know how the other disciples felt about Jesus having an inner circle, but I bet they were a little miffed; don't you? I mean, first of all, Jesus had a lot of people following him, but he had twelve disciples whom he called apostles. They were special. They were with him a lot. But on a few occasions he left the other apostles and he took only Peter, James, and John---special occasion, an inner circle.
It's interesting, we find two other occasions with Peter, James, and John, the inner circle, gathered together: Occasion number one, Mark chapter 5 at the house of Jairus, the raising of Jarius from the dead. Remember when Jesus went inside the house and took with him Peter, James, and John? Everybody else was left outside.
The second occasion is on the Mount of Transfiguration, Mark, chapter 9, I believe, if memory serves. When they went up on that high mountain, I believe Mount Hermon up in the north. Jesus was transfigured before them with Moses and Elijah. And it says that Jesus was speaking to Moses and Elijah about his departure, which would happen at Jerusalem, his death, but he was in this glorified state. And the third time he takes Peter, James, and John alone is here in the garden of Gethsemane.
Now, let me throw out something that I think is fascinating: all three of these instances have something in common---death, death. Number one: Mark, chapter 5, the house of Jairus; Jesus demonstrated that he was victorious over death by raising her from the dead. Instance number two: Mount of Transfiguration; Jesus was showing that he would be glorified through death, his own death on the cross. Instance number three: the garden, here, of Gethsemane; Jesus presents himself for death to the Father.
Something else is interesting, Peter, James, and John: The very first Christian martyr was James, according to Acts, chapter 12, by King Herod. The last of the apostles to die was John. The middle one was Peter who would be crucified in Rome also but upside down, as we have often noted.
Verse 35, "He went a little farther, and he fell on the ground, and he prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, 'Abba,' " which is an Aramaic term, also a Hebrew term now, which means "daddy" or "father." It's an intimate term of relationship. " 'Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Take this cup away from me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will.' "
Have you ever noticed the way Jesus prayed? And have you ever compared the way Jesus prayed with the manner in which some people even today tell you how you ought to pray? What they say to you, some people, will say, "When you talk to God, you need to name it and you need to claim it. You need to come with absolute confidence, and say, 'Lord, I just, like, command this or I demand that.' " That's the wrong way to pray. That's not a prayer of faith; that's a prayer of arrogance and presumption.
Even the Son of God didn't come and "name it and claim it." His method was request and rest. That ought to be your method---request and rest. Leave it to God. "Lord, this is what I want, but nevertheless, whatever you want is most important." That's a prayer of faith. That's a prayer of faith. You know what the best kind of prayer is? "Lord, I see it this way, but you know the rest of the story, I don't. So, whatever you I want, Lord, I submit myself to that."
Jesus is submitting to the will of the Father. In his human nature he's feeling the anxiety that's coming upon him, but "Nevertheless, not what I want, I'm here to do what you want." That is so foreign to the way we think. It's so foreign to the way I think. I have to be constantly reminded of this instance to be adjusted. How could Jesus submit himself to whatever the Father wants? It's because he knew the character and nature of his Father.
He submitted to the nudge of the Father because he knew the nature of the Father. The nature of the Father is he's good. He's not an ogre. He always does what is right. He is sovereignly in control. He's not a passive bystander; he's very involved in his creation. Knowing all that he knows about his Father, he says "Nevertheless, not what I will, but you will."
"And then he came and he found them sleeping, and said to Peter," notice what he calls him, " 'Simon.' " If you remember on our weekend studies, we noticed though Jesus changed his name from Simon to Peter, sometimes Jesus will call him by his old name when Peter acts like his old self. It's a helpful reminder: "You still have an old nature, Simon." [laughter]
" 'Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.' " Okay, so let me just ask you something candidly: When you sit down to pray, is it, like, really easy for you to do that? It's like, "Oh, man, an hour of prayer, this is, like, so easy for me. I'm just so into this. I do this, like, all the time, it's that easy."
And reading the Bible, do you find that when you sit down to read and pray is when your mind wanders and you get distracted? The phone calls come and all that stuff, but just your mind goes crazy, goes wandering. Or you get tired. It's like, "Man, I thought I was awake, but I'm getting so tired." Why do you think that is? Could it be that Satan knows that prayer is powerful, and that study is profitable, and he wants to take that power and that profit away from you so he'll just have all sorts of things happen when you sit down to watch and pray to distract you from it?
Let me make a suggestion to you. When you pray, it's very helpful, pray out loud. Listen to yourself praying. When you pray quietly, you're doing it in your mind, and your mind, you know, synapse fires because of a pizza you had last night or whatever it might be. So, I find when I pray out loud, and I'm listening to what I'm saying to God, like in a conversation, it's much easier.
Also, I like to walk and pray. I like to take a walk and on that walk cover over several things with the Lord. And it's just, it's like, "Come on, Lord, let's take a walk." And I talk, sometimes I'm talking it out loud. And I'm sure those that see me walk think, "He's lost his mind." [laughter] It's kind of fun to think that they think that.
"Again he went away," verse 39, "and prayed, and he spoke the same words. And when he returned, he found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy." I don't fault them for that. It's late. It's been a busy day, a Passover. "And they did not know what to answer him. And he came the third time and he said to them, 'Are you still sleeping and resting? It's enough! The hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.' "
While the disciples are sleeping the enemies of Christ are plotting. Do you see a principle at all in that? Do you see a principle in this idea of watching and praying? I believe that there are meetings that take place in hell, strategy meetings. "How can we get her off track spiritually, this young little Christian? Ooh, she's so on fire for Jesus. Let's see what we can do in her family, in her work, in her ministry to dissuade her or him in that regard."
Do you not think that that kind of strategy takes place? Because if you don't, go back some time and read Daniel, chapter 10, about that whole angel meeting the prince of the power of Persia, and all of that spiritual warfare going on behind the scenes. And then think to what Paul said in Ephesians, chapter 6, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but principalities, powers, and the rulers of darkness in heavenly places." And so what Jesus would say is, "Engage in the battle. Get involved in the battle."
And you pull out the big guns when you pray. Please, please, please get rid of the notion that says, "I guess there's nothing else to do except pray. That's your big gun, man. When you bring out the prayer gun, it's like bringing a loaded gun to a knife fight. That's why---and if you've ever seen a gun at a knife fight, and I'm thinking of Indiana Jones now.
I always think back to that little episode in that movie, or he's in, like, that Egyptian little souk and there are guys flinging the sword and Indy pulls out the gun and goes poom! Remember that? [laughter] It's a classic scene, one of the great scenes in movie making. Trust me on that one. [laughter] It's a great analogy. It's the weapon that changes the fight. And so Satan would look at you and go, "How can I get that gun out of his hands? How can I keep him/her from praying?" Jesus would say, "Get in the battle. Get engaged."
Look at verse 42. Jesus says after that, "Rise, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.' " Now, Jesus at this point is resolved to walk straight ahead into this whole scene that has played out apart from them where he is being betrayed by Judas Iscariot, will be delivered into the hands of Roman soldiers and temple guards, and go off to court and be crucified. He's resigned to it.
"Rise, let us be going. Behold, my betrayer is at hand." The reason Jesus could rise up is because he had knelt down. The reason he could stand up is because he had bowed before the Father. And when you bow before the Father, you can stand up to anything and through anything.
" 'Rise, let us be going. My betrayer is at hand.' " He's just, like, walking straight into the storm. "And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas"---remember what his name means, right? Praise. Of course, Jesus gave him another name, "the son of perdition." "One of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders." Now it's always helpful when you read a gospel, if you can, as much as possible compare what you're reading with the other accounts.
So, when John tells the story, he says they came with "a detachment of troops." A detachment was a cohort. A cohort was a tenth of a Roman legion, which was six hundred men. That's what a detachment was. So, you could look at it as they came with a detachment of six hundred men. However, that seems a bit much just from reading this scene. The word for detachment---translated cohort, which is a tenth of a legion, which is six hundred men---is the Greek word speira, which is sometimes translated in literature, "a third of a cohort," which would be two hundred men.
Two hundred men is still a lot of men, but it's a lot less than six hundred. So, probably a crowd of between two and six hundred men came to arrest Jesus. Now, if you're thinking, "Why that many people to get Jesus?" That's a good question. I believe it's because Judas put them up to it. "You don't know this guy. He's done, like, crazy miracles."
So, Judas really didn't know Jesus. He didn't know the heart of Jesus. He thought, "He's gonna, like, do some crazy miracle," or "He's going to want to run away," or "He has primed people around the area to fight for him, so we're going to need a lot of men on this." But we would call this overkill, especially since Jesus walks right into it and gives himself willingly to it.
Verse 44, "Now his betrayer had given them a signal, saying, 'Whomever I kiss,' " that is the common greeting, " 'he is the One; seize him and lead him away safely.' " What does Proverbs 27 say? "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful." This is the kiss of an enemy. "The One that I kiss." Now they wouldn't be able to identify Jesus any other way than, "I'm going to walk up to this guy and give the common greeting. I'm gonna---be a kiss on the cheeks. I'm gonna kiss him."
That's interesting because when I grew up, I always thought Jesus glowed in the dark. [laughter] I honestly did. I'm not making this up. Now, how did I ever get to think that way? Well, I had these things called "holy cards." And holy cards were pictures of saints or Jesus. And in the Bible that my parents had, Jesus always had this glowing Frisbee over his head. [laughter] That's what it looked like to a Californian. There's a Frisbee behind him glowing and he exuded this sort of this light.
He was a little more glowing than the rest of the scene. But Judas didn't say, "Now, you'll be able to tell Jesus, he's the one who glows in the dark, and he's got the Frisbee behind his head." No. He looks ordinary like anybody else. You'd never know that this is the Son of God. But, "I'm going to go up to him and I'm going to give him a kiss," a common greeting, "and you'll know that it's him. That will be the mark of identification." Wow.
Again the name Judas means "praise." Jesus calls him poison, son of perdition. He defiled everything and everyone around him. He defiled Jesus' church, the disciples, by being a part of it. He defiled what happened earlier in the account in this chapter when the gift of that woman was poured out, and he said, "This could have been sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor." Right? But he was a thief, the Bible tells us, so he defiles her gift. Now he defiles a prayer meeting in the garden of Gethsemane. Wherever he goes, he brings his defilement with him.
Verse 46, "They laid their hands on him and they took him." "As soon as he had come, immediately"---I don't know if I read verse 45 or not. "Immediately he went to him and said, 'Rabbi!' And he kissed him. And they laid their hands on him and took him. And one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear." Now who is that? That's Peter. It doesn't say it's Peter, but we know from John's account. John identifies, "That's Peter." [laughter]
Mark doesn't identify with it, but there's something we know about the gospel of Mark. Who's giving Mark the information for the account? Peter. It's not like Peter's prideful; I just think that Peter wanted to distance himself from this. Have you ever had an embarrassing moment? You just, you don't, like, want to bring it up and advertise everywhere you go. "Oh, yeah, I was the guy that made that stupid mistake. Let's just tell that to everybody." So, Peter still was sensitized about this, enough to say this happened. He doesn't need to identify. He wants to distance himself from it.
Question: Why did Peter feel like he needed to defend Jesus? Well, I think, my opinion, he's trying to prove something to Jesus. He's the one that said, "Even if all of these flakes forsake you, not me. You can count on me. I'll never do that." It's as if he's saying, "Lord, you really don't know me, do you? I thought you did. You are the Christ, the Son of the living God, but you don't know me. If you knew me, you'd know that I would never betray you." "Well, it's going to happen, Peter. I'm predicting it. And if I predict it, it's going to happen." "No!" taking out the sword to try to prove a point to Jesus. He's always the impetuous one, isn't he?
Cut off the ear of Malchus the high priest. I've always contended that Peter wasn't a great swordsman. He was a good fisherman, that was his occupation, but he wasn't good at a sword because he wasn't aiming for the ear. Now, if he was aiming for the ear, we'd say, "Good hit." I think he was aiming for the head. I think he missed. I think he nicked his ear. The Bible says Jesus healed his ear and told Peter, "Put your sword up."
How many times have you been like Peter where you take out the Bible, the sword of the Spirit, and you chop up another believer to prove your point? You want to be right. You want to argue your point, and you'll say things and use the Scripture to do so, just to prove you're right. And so we leave chopped ears and bloody heads around in the name of being right for the Lord.
"Peter, I don't need your protection." Jesus didn't need Peter's protection. He didn't want Peter's protection. There's sort of an interesting ideology among Christian leaders that they need to have their body guards with them, their protection with them. Really? Well, now, how sovereign is the Lord? "Peter, don't need your sword." "Put your sword up," one of the accounts says.
"But the Scripture," verse 49, "must be fulfilled. Then they all forsook him and fled." Just like Jesus predicted. "Now a certain young man followed him, having a linen cloth thrown around his naked body. And the young men laid hold of him, and he left the linen cloth and fled from them naked." Now, now, now wait a minute. Just stop right there. That's just a weird thing that we just read. [laughter] Right? It is, right? And it's only found in Mark.
Because it's only found in Mark it is believed that the young man mentioned in Mark is Mark, that this is the young teenager John Mark. But it still doesn't answer the question: What's going on here? What are you doing in the garden with, like, a sheet on your body? Right? That's just kind of weird, right? So, let me piece this together for you. Here's a possibility, and I believe this is the case: Jesus celebrated the Passover in a house in Jerusalem, the upper chamber, the upper room of a house in Jerusalem.
It just says in this chapter, you'll be shown a "large upper room; there make ready." It doesn't say whose house that is. As you read the book of Acts it shows the disciples, the early church meeting together in this large upper room. It doesn't say whose house it is, it just says "large upper room." When we get to Acts, chapter 12, we get, perhaps, the answer. Peter has been in prison. The angel releases him. Peter, it says, goes "to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where the disciples had gathered together praying."
So, it could be that the upper room where the Passover was at and the upper room they met at was the upper room as part of the house of Mary the mother of John Mark: Mark who wrote the gospel of Mark, also called John Mark, also the cousin of Barnabas. As you read through the book of Acts, you discover that. So what happened? What happened is that as Jesus was celebrating Passover, who got up and left in the middle of the Passover and went away? Judas, to betray Jesus.
After Passover was ended, Jesus and his disciples walked out of the room, went down to the garden of Gethsemane. Judas with the detachment of troops probably first went to the house of John Mark's mother where the Passover was, where he had last been with Jesus, not finding them there. But, you know, you got a couple hundred men knocking at the door, that'll wake anybody up in the house.
It woke John Mark, this young teenager, up in the house. He saw what was going on, that they were after Jesus. He puts the bed sheet around him, runs down to the garden of Gethsemane, and this takes place. Make sense? That's how I'm piecing it together. [laughter] That's the best I can give you on that.
But verse 52 is just an interesting---you know, he had to literally streak out of the garden. "He left the linen cloth and fled from them naked." Well, thank you for sharing that, Mark. Thank you for putting that in our heads. [laughter] "And they led Jesus away to the high priest, and with him were assembled all the chief priests, and the elders, and the scribes. 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."
Now we're going now through the trials of Jesus, and let me just sort of truncate this. Let me abridge this for the sake of time. There's not one trial, there are not two trials that Jesus faced, there will be six separate trials that Jesus will face before he goes to the cross. The first three are religious; the last three are secular, Roman.
Number one, before Annas the high priest. Number two, before Caiaphas his son-in-law, the acting high priest that year. Number three, early the next morning before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish council, when they passed the verdict that he should die. Problem is now he's gone through three trials; they can't kill him. The right of capital punishment has been taken away from the Jews. The Romans had the exclusive right. They have to get a special acceptance by the Roman government to get this deed done.
So, they go, number four, or number one on the secular side, to Pilate. Pilate tries to wash his hands of it, doesn't want anything to do with it, tries to squirm out of it, gives it to Herod Antipas. Herod doesn't want to have anything to do with him, sends him back to Pilate. Pilate finally gives in to the will of the Sanhedrin and passes a law that he should be killed. So that's six trials.
I mentioned that the acting high priest was Caiaphas, but the power behind Caiaphas was his father-in-law, a man by the name of Annas. In 6 AD Annas was put in place by Quirinius the governor of Syria. In 15 AD Annas was deposed by---oh, I can't remember his name. Um, something like Gratius Varius [sic] [Valerius Gratus]. Some guy who deposed him. Okay, so, Annas is not the acting high priest, but a high priest is a high priest till he dies.
And the real power behind the throne is Annas, though he's not the acting high priest. But his influence is incredible. Let me tell you why: Caiaphas his son-in-law is the acting high priest, but his four sons control the revenue from the temple. All of those tables that were set up to collect money and to do transfers and to sell animals were done by his sons.
That's why Annas wants to see Jesus, and he's the first one to interrogate him, because Jesus hit Annas where it hurts---the pocketbook. When he overturned those tables, that's revenue. So Annas, the real influence, then Caiaphas, then the Sanhedrin, then Pilate, then Herod, then back to Pilate, and he gives into the will of the Sanhedrin. But notice that Peter is following at a distance. And I believe that to be so physically, I believe that to be so spiritually.
Some of you may be following Jesus at a distance. You look back and you remember a time when your walk was intimate. You had front-row enthusiasm, we might call it. And you're all in, you're all there, but as time went on that front-row enthusiasm, that intimacy waned. And it's like, "Yeah, there's Jesus, he's way out there. I'm following him, but sort of at a distance on my terms." That was a mistake for him. And he warmed himself at the enemy's fires.
Verse 55, "Now the chief priests and all the council sought testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but found none. For many bore false witness against him, but their testimonies did not agree. Then some rose up and bore false witness against him, saying, 'We heard him say, "I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands." ' But not even then did their testimony agree."
Did Jesus say that? Well, he said something very close to it. But, you know, being a false witness witness---if you're a false witness like these people, you can have the right information with the wrong implication. Yeah, Jesus said that, but what he was implying---his own physical temple, his body would die, and three days later he would rise up that temple, not the temple in Jerusalem. But they act the part of a false witness.
"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?' But he kept silent and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, saying, 'Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?' " Remember, Jews often didn't say the name of God because it was too precious, too valuable, too holy to be uttered by human lips. " 'Are you the Christ, [the Son of God] the Son of the Blessed?' Jesus said, 'I am.' " You can't get any clearer than that. "Are you claiming to be the Messiah? Are you claiming to be deity?" "I am."
" 'And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.' " Wow, that's like, okay, in-your-face, unmistakable. They would have immediately thought of something I hope you immediately think of now that you are astute Bible students---and that is, Daniel, chapter 7. Daniel sees a vision of the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man coming in the clouds of glory to the Ancient of Days. That's almost a direct quote. He's saying, "I am that One. That's who I am."
"Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, 'What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?' And they all condemned him to be deserving of death. 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. Now as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came. And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, 'You also were with Jesus of Nazareth.'
"But he denied it, saying, 'I neither know nor understand what you are saying.' And he went out on the porch, and the rooster crowed." That's once that he denied him. "And the servant girl saw him again, and began to say to those who stood by, 'This is one of them.' But he denied it again." There it is twice he denied him. I'm sure by this time Peter could have reached out gladly and choked that servant girl. It's like, "Get out of here. Sick of these servant girls! They can ruin everything for me." [laughter]
"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.' " There was an accent the Galileans had, an unsophisticated accent. So that if you were in Jerusalem and you heard a Galilean, you just knew that's a Galilean.
When you hear somebody from different parts of the country, and I'm not even going to say from where. They can be different parts of the state, different part of states close to us, different parts of other states around America---their speech gives them away. Am I right? You can say, "Is that a Texas accent?" [laughter] "No, that's a North Carolina accent." "Well, forgive me," or, "Bless you child."
You know, your speech will eventually give you away. You might be good at God talk right now, but in the right opportunity your speech will betray who you really are. Jesus said, "From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." Put a person in a fiery trial and listen to what they say. The real them will come out. He put Job in a fiery trial. He lost everything. "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord." Wow! Your speech gives you away. Your speech betrays you. You must be a child who trusts the Lord.
"Your speech gives you away," she said. "And then he began to curse," verse 71, "and swear, 'I do not know this man of whom you speak!' " That's number three. "A second time the rooster crowed. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said to him, 'Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.' " With each denial Peter becomes stronger, until finally he curses and swears.
And the word here is a very strong word that in one of the sources I read was used in ancient times---here's the equivalent: "May God condemn me," or "May God damn me if I am not telling the truth." That's how strong of a curse Peter uttered this last time---very, very strong. And then Peter remembered what Jesus said. "And when he thought about it, he wept." The word "wept" is also strong. It means, not, "Oh, do you have a Kleenex?" It means to weep convulsively from the gut, to be so torn up that you're emotionally breaking up. That's how Peter wept.
Peter was so disappointed in himself, but listen to this. Peter was disappointed in himself, rightfully so. Do you think Jesus was disappointed in Peter? Now, I want you to really think about this, because really in your heart you go, "Yeah, he was." No, he wasn't. Jesus predicted he would. If Jesus predicted he would deny him, do you think Jesus went, "Gasp! I can't believe he would do that." No---"Peter, dude, I knew you were going to do this. I told you you were going to do this. I also told you you were going to be recovered, and when you are recovered, to strengthen your brethren."
This was Peter's darkest night. This darkest night will soon be eclipsed by Peter's brightest day when Jesus comes after the resurrection and restores him to usefulness once again. So, if I were to close by giving you the three stages of where Peter is at in this story: number one, at the fire warming himself; number two, under fire. "Who are you? You're one of them! I saw you. Your speech betrays you." Number three, on fire. After the resurrection, the one who was at the fire, then under fire, will be the man who is on fire, restored, and useable in a way that he never thought imaginable. And we on our weekend studies are partaking of that fruit as we read First and Second Peter. Let's pray.
O Father, we thank you for showing us who these great apostles really are made of. Boy, does it encourage us, because we see as we look at them a mirror of ourselves---so over confident, so unwilling to watch and pray, so easily swayed by sleep and distracted by so many things. Yet, you know our frame and you remember that we are dust. Lord, I pray for so many who might be here who are so disappointed with themselves, so disappointed with their walks. I do believe that to be disappointed with yourself means you've trusted in yourself.
So, Lord, no matter where we're at, would you just kindly pick us up, set us back on the path, your path, and use us. Use us this week, Lord; use us tomorrow with our family, in our neighborhoods, at work, that we could be a light. That no matter what darkness we may be facing this night, that as we go out into the darkness to our cars, to our homes, that the light of Jesus Christ, the light of the truth would be that which fans our flame and makes us on fire, in Jesus' name, amen.