The following sermon was prepared by Ps Lucas Stoltz. Click here: Mark 14:43-52, to download or stream the audio sermon, or click here: Mark 14:43-52, for the video version. Alternatively, you can read the notes below, or follow along as you watch or listen.
Mark 14:43-52, Abandoned & Alone; Beginnings of the Calvary
- We are at a very intense portion of Mark’s Gospel. In fact, Gethsemane is the introduction to Calvary. Now it is interesting to note that in the first garden, the Garden of Eden, Adam said to the Father, “not your will but mine be done,” and all of creation was plunged into sin.
- In this second garden, the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus, the 2nd Adam, says, “not my will but yours be done,” and the redemption and salvation of all creation begins! So Eden brought death. Gethsemane begins new life.
- So continuing with Mark’s Gospel, today’s passage has a two-fold purpose for us. One is to expose our hearts as we too abandon Jesus on various occasions, where we go off to pursue our sinful desires, or perhaps in the sight of hostility – we look the other way. The other is a form of counsel to encourage as that we are never truly alone, or without Jesus.
- In either case, I believe we can all learn a great deal from these two approaches. And I’ll be using them as applications through each point, so be alert!
- So as we deal with the words in front of us, note that we need to be aware of hostility (v43); and be aware of man’s sinfulness (v44-49); and we need to be aware of the reality of apostasy (v50-52) if we want to overcome the lie of being alone or the temptation of abandoning Jesus.
1. Be Aware of Hostility:
- Text – v43
- Explanation – Now what does hostility have to do with the lie of feeling alone without Jesus? Or what does it have to do with the temptation of abandoning Jesus? Well, usually these thoughts or temptations are triggered by circumstances. And a common form is when we experience hostility. When we experience unfriendliness or resentment or opposition, we may go one of these two paths.
- We start to believe the lie that Jesus has left us, and now we struck by various forms of opposition. Folks telling you that your relationship with Christ is hypocritical, or you experience a stream of unfriendliness by your colleagues. Maybe you family treat you differently because of your faith in Christ, yet, you still feel alone.
- Illustration – In addition, or on the other side of the spectrum, you may turn your back on the Lord because you believe the hostility you experience has got to do with Him. You believe He caused it or you think that it is happening because of your connection with Him. Whichever, these may be lies that you have entertained in the past, or even still struggle with.
- However, as Jesus was, we should be prepared for any form of hostility. A part of our preparation for hostility involves not being surprised about its source, and in the scene before us, we see it in the form of betrayal.
- Application – So here’s where we start to learn the lesson. Look at Christ’s composure. He is unshakeable in the sight of all the hostility, apostasy, and abandonment. And again, before you say; ‘but He is God!’ He had been deeply distressed and terrified at the thought of becoming sin and being the propitiation for the sins of the world.
- But having prayed through the temptations, He emerged confident, He was reassured of His commitment, and therefore He was composed. What gave Him this composure? Truth! He had the truth about God, Himself, and the eternal plan of salvation. Thus, He overcame the temptation of abandonment, while knowing that in a moment’s time, His beloved followers will flee from Him.
- Conclusion – So how did He prepare for the hostility? In Gethsemane, Jesus poured out His heart to the Father. Hebrews 5:7, tells us He prayed and was heard. So why wasn’t the cup removed if He was heard? He prayed, ‘thy will be done’. And ‘thy will’ was to tale the cup.
- So Jesus was praying for perseverance to overcome the temptation to turn away from the cross. He prayed for perseverance to willingly submit to the will of God and His composure toward the hostile crowd reveals this.
- We need to apply this to ourselves! We too have God’s promise that He is with us. We have His promise that He will give us the strength we need to persevere. We also have His promise that His grace is sufficient to overcome our weaknesses. And that He is working all things for our good and ultimately, for His glory.
- To know is one thing, but applying them is another. Yet this is what our Lord was doing in Gethsemane. Through prayer, Jesus was getting perspective. He was talking to both His Father and to Himself. Jesus prepared to face hostility. Mark wants us to see this. He wants us to focus on Jesus rather than on the fleeing disciples.
- Bridge – So in order to be alert of the hostility, keep watch over your soul and pray for perseverance to obey God’s will. Christ’s enemies came at night, and usually hostility comes when we least expect it. As the world is hostile to Christ, His gospel, and His church. However, this is not the only caution.
2. Be Aware of Sinfulness:
- Text – 44-49
- Explanation – Why was the sign necessary? Judas was concerned that there might be some commotion at the arrest because he warned them to “arrest him and lead him away under guard.” Look, Judas spent three years with the sons of thunder and hot-headed Peter, so he was prepared for a possible commotion. Plus, if Jesus gets away, he won’t be getting his pay-day.
- So Judas came up to Jesus and said, “Rabbi!” which was a hypocritical sarcasm. We talk about being stabbed in the back. Yet, we don’t overcome people’s sinfulness by focusing on them, we overcome by looking to Christ.
- Illustration – Look what happens when you focus on the sinner instead of the Saviour. The temple guards laid hands on Jesus and arrested Him, but someone “drew his sword” and took a swing at the head of the one of the men, cutting off a lobe of his ear.
- John 18:10 tells us that this was Peter. Sure it took some courage to attack a platoon of guards. But it was also foolish. The reality is, in a moment, Peter would flee. John Calvin observed that, “We are much more courageous and ready for fighting than for bearing the cross.” Why is that? Well, for one, it draws the focus of our own sinfulness away – therefore we don’t deal with it – we just change the focus.
- Application – Mark doesn’t record Jesus’ interaction with Peter or with the servant. Rather he records Jesus’ rebuke to those who had pursued Him. His rebuke calls into question their character and their courage. “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me?”
- Jesus further rebuked them, “Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching and you did not seize me.” He confronted their cowardly, conniving behaviour. And further added, “But let the Scriptures be fulfilled” (v. 50). Now note the following concerning this statement;
- Conclusion – Firstly, Jesus was characterised by composure, in the most difficult of times, which arose from confidence in God’s sovereignty and Scriptures. When we are surrounded by what seems to be inescapable enemies, run to and rely on the Scriptures.
- Second, which “Scriptures” was Jesus referring to? Perhaps Jesus had Isaiah 53 on His heart, the passage that reveals His coming adversity but also His security. Regardless, the Scriptures provides us with the same persevering, peaceful resolve as it did Christ. As His confidence in and His commitment to Scripture strengthened Him for the trial which was brought upon by man’s sinfulness.
- Bridge – don’t get caught by the hurt caused by others sin, don’t get caught in the consequences of your sinfulness. Be caught up by the truth in God’s word about His relationship with you, despite your sinfulness. And rest in His grace! Now our next point develops this a little more.
3. Be Aware of Apostasy:
- Text – 50-52
- Explanation – The disciples all boasted they would die with Jesus, but when push came to shove, “they all left him and fled.” Here’s just a side note, it was necessary for Jesus to be alone for He alone could die for the sins of the world (Acts 4:12).
- However, the disciples’ response was also expected, because they failed to watch and pray. So learn from this. We too should constantly be on our guard lest we also abandon our profession of faith. As Jesus said, “watch and pray lest you enter into temptation.”
- Illustration – Now in addition, Mark is the only Gospel writer who records the incident of the young man fleeing naked. Firstly, the Jewish Apocrypha and Josephus, describe the term for this young man refers to young men who are exceptionally strong and valiant, or faithful and wise.
- However, this scene describes the opposite. Additionally, the word translated “linen cloth” refers to fine clothes worn by the wealthy. Yet that was all he was wearing and therefore it is most likely that this young man did not plan on being out at this time. Still we can assume it is someone who followed Jesus at this time. But who was he?
- The most common assumption is that it was John Mark, the author. Some have said that this was the author’s “hidden signature,” which was rather common in those days. Many argue that the home where Jesus partook the last supper was Mark’s mother’s, which might explain why he was nearby.
- Acts 12:12 tells us that her home was used by the church. Again, such a sizeable home would indicate wealth. So why else would this incident be recorded? And who else would it be if all the disciples fled? If this was Mark, it would not be the last time that he turned back from following Jesus.
- Application – This same Mark would later travel with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey only to turn back when difficulties arose (Acts 13:13; 15:36ff). So despite His strength, and wealth, he was feeble. Sure, later in his life, Mark’s faith grew stronger and his commitment was so sound, that he was entrusted by God to write this Gospel.
- Now, isn’t it true that we all have had times when have felt abandoned? Yet as painful and heartbreaking as that is, nothing can compare to the abandonment that Jesus experienced. Jesus was abandoned by those whom he had rescued, who he loved!
- Conclusion – And yet, in spite of all of this, they abandoned Him. Friends, we’re quick to say, ‘woe is me’… but we need to realise that before feeling sorry for ourselves, we need to look to Jesus who stood alone, and was forsaken.
- Second, ponder on this, perhaps the Holy Spirit ensured Mark kept the identity anonymous so that you and I could insert our names there. Aren’t we quick to flee from Christ instead of to Christ?
- This portion of Scripture isn’t just to relate with Jesus betrayal and abandonment, we too feel as though our souls are sorrowful to death. And the reality is, there are betrayals from which we will not recover. Therefore we need to look to Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith!
- Bridge – But we cannot shy away from the disciples who abandoned Jesus. At times, we are the naked fleer; in the since that we have tried to stay close to Jesus but, when push came to shove, we chose to live with shame, or nakedness, instead of paying the price of identifying with Him.
- Is there truly any reason for us to run away from identifying with Jesus? No! If have you compromised God’s truth, or chosen the easy way of fleeing rather than the difficult path of staying and paying the price of faithful discipleship, don’t curl up in shame!
- Jesus died for that failure. He died for those sins and will forgive you. Walk in His clothes of righteousness, walk as a son who is secured with eternal inheritance!
- If you aren’t a believer, even in the sense that you have assumed you are a follower of the Lord and now you realise you are not. Stop fleeing from Him today.
- Judas hid his false intentions in vain for Christ knew his heart. So how long will you fool yourself that Jesus does not know yours? Come, repent and to believe on Jesus.