Summary: Many times when we look at the portion of Mark 14 involving the arrest and trial of Jesus we focus on Judas - the betrayer. But Mark shows us that many more than Judas betrayed Jesus that night, and it shows us how short we fall and how great our Savior r
Beginning in Mark 14:43 we shift from Jesus being the source of the action to Him being acted upon by others. He becomes very passive except at a few key moments, on His way to the cross. In a way, what we see in this portion of Mark 14 is the failure of mankind. In several key ways, man abandons God—why? So that God shows the futility of man’s efforts to better himself or save himself and we see that that God is the sole source of our rescue. Jesus came into the scene of humanity as the ultimate, and only, real action hero. We rejected Him. He rescued us anyway—alone.
Mark returns to his use of action words: “suddenly”. You get the picture that the serene sorrowful scene of prayer is instantly turned into confusion as a “mob” arrives carrying swords and clubs. This wasn’t an orderly arrest by a dignified group representing Israel and Yahweh, it was an unruly mob out for blood. At the front of the group is Judas, who must identify Jesus in the darkness. There were not photographs so it was important that someone who knew Jesus point Him out among the disciples. Judas gives them a sign—pointing even more to His utter lack of devotion to the Lord.
44 – 47
A kiss was a common greeting and was probably on the cheek. Unusual here because it is the only time a disciple is recorded as having greeted Jesus in this way. He used the term “Rabbi” which was a term of great respect, but in what Judas was doing there was no respect, only contempt. John tells us that it was Peter who reacted, trying to come to Jesus’ defense, by cutting of the ear of Malchus, the High Priest’s slave. Jesus healed the man. Jesus didn’t need defending, but it shows the utter futility of man thinking he can do anything for himself or for God.
48 – 50
Jesus had committed no crime and they all knew it. This was simply raw jealousy and hatred. Jesus wants them to know that He knows their actions are unsupported and that the only reason He is allowing it is to fulfill God’s Word. Sometimes when injustice happens to us because we are Christians our response should be like Jesus (and later Peter, Paul and others): to help clarify for the accuser why this is happening, and then submit to God’s will in fulfillment of His Word. In Matthew 26, by the way, Jesus said that the Father had 92,000 angels on hot standby in case they were needed. The sad note at the end of verse 50, of course, is that all deserted Him, just as Jesus predicted.
51 – 52
This is an odd little detail only found in Mark. Tradition says this was Jon-Mark, the writer of this gospel. If so, and if the Last Supper occurred in his home, Mark would have perhaps gone to sleep and realized the group had left. Maybe then he followed them to the Garden – or perhaps was even going to warn Jesus about the plot because perhaps Judas had been at the Last Supper and then gone to tell the religious authorities but arrived back after the group left, thus giving Mark warning. So Mark may have gotten up so quickly that all he had was his sheet covering him. At the arrest scene they tried to nab Mark, perhaps as a witness or co-conspirator, but he left the sheet behind in order to escape.
53 – 54
What Mark records here is really the second hearing – taking place at the current high priest’s house: Caiaphas. Annas, his father, had been a popular high priest deposed by the Romans. Many considered him still the high priest (an office given for life) so Jesus was first taken there for a preliminary hearing (John 18:12-24).
The fact that the high priest, the chief priests, elders, and scribes had all gathered indicated this was a meeting of the Sanhedrin—the ruling council of Israel. This trial was at night and was illegal. (see this excellent and well researched article about this by Biblestudy.org). Here is another good article about the subject.
Peter had run away but was following at a distance. John tells us that his family knew the high priest’s family and got Peter access to the courtyard. Sitting (John has him standing) with the temple police was a risky thing, but we see here Peter’s incredible loyalty to the Lord, fighting against the human nature for self-preservation.
55 – 59
What makes this a sham right off is that a trial is supposed to ascertain the facts and render a judgment. The religious leaders had already rendered their judgment and were looking for facts to support it! Be careful when you reach a conclusion about something and then look for ways to support your position. Instead, let God’s Word give you the truth and let that form your judgment.