The High Priest Caiaphas has just asked Jesus directly if he is the Messiah, the Son of God, and for the first time, Jesus has responded. In his response, he has gone way beyond identifying himself as the Messiah. In using the name, “I Am,” Jesus has unequivocally identified himself as being Jehovah God. Not only that, but Jesus has identified himself as the divine Son of Man who defeats his enemies and brings about the Kingdom of God in the prophecies of Daniel. Plain truth is often met by pure anger, and that is precisely what happens next.
During his trial before the High Priest Caiaphas, Jesus refuses to answer the many accusations made against him. An infuriated High Priest has just stood up and demanded that Jesus answer the charges. And still, Jesus says not a word. Caiaphas, who is used to being in charge, seems to have completely lost control of the situation. So, now Caiaphas intervenes again. And this time, Jesus will respond.
As a skilled politician, the High Priest Caiaphas knew how to manipulate a situation. During Jesus’ trial, he held back and remained silent. The accusations had all been heard, focusing on Jesus’ statements about the temple. Through it all, Jesus had remained in silent dignity. The High Priest now decides to dramatically intervene.
During Jesus’ trial before the Sanhedrin, many witnesses have testified against him, but as is always the case, evil can never agree even within itself, and the witnesses all contradicted each other. Eventually, his enemies brought out their key accusation against Jesus. Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’” 59 Yet even then their testimony did not agree. – Mark 14:57–59
Jacob’s Well holds a kind of sacred aura around it. And what’s really important is that this is the most authentic Bible site associated with Jesus anywhere in the Holy Land. It’s about 1 ½ hours north of Jerusalem in the area that was called Samaria in Bible times. Here on one of the main streets of the town of Nablus is the 4th century Greek Orthodox Church, St Photini that was built over the site of Jacob’s Well during the Byzantine period. It’s a truly beautiful church surrounded by gardens, and to get to Jacob’s well, we go down into the crypt of the church. We are now standing beside the same well where Jesus met the woman of Samaria.
Jesus is now on trial for his life before the High Priest and the Sanhedrin. Christ’s enemies have found many witnesses against him, and the Sanhedrin listen to what they had to say. The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. 56 Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree. – Mark 14:55-56
After Jesus was arrested, he was taken by the mob back down the Kidron Valley, and then up into the house of Caiaphas, the High Priest. All of Jesus’ disciples had abandoned him. But one of them decided to follow the mob at a distance. They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together. 54 Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire. – Mark 14:53–54
Jesus has just been arrested in Gethsemane. Peter has made a futile gesture of defiance by attacking the servant of the high priest with his sword. However, instead of supporting Peter, Jesus makes it clear that he isn’t going to resist. How will the disciples react now? Then everyone deserted him and fled. – Mark 14:50
In Gethsemane, Peter has just taken out his sword and attacked the servant of the high priest. And as blood flows, there is uproar. As usual, it’s Jesus who takes control. “Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” – Mark 14:48–49
The armed mob has just arrived to arrest Jesus. Judas is at their head. Let’s look at what happens next. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” 45 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46 The men seized Jesus and arrested him. – Mark 14:44–46
At Gethsemane, Jesus has just announced that the hour has come, and that the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. He has just told his disciples to get up, because his betrayer has arrived. And at that very moment, Judas arrives leading a large armed mob. Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders. Mark 14:43
Three times Jesus went to pray alone, and three times he returned. And every time, he found his disciples, who should have been watching and praying, instead sleeping and resting. And now, they were out of time. The hour had come. Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” Mark 14:41–42
Jesus has just been bitterly disappointed to find his disciples sleeping instead of praying. This disappointment is both for their sakes, and for his, because he can barely deal with the anguish and temptation that he is facing. So now, Christ has gone away to continue praying for strength again. Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him. Mark 14:39–40
Jesus has been praying in anguish of heart. But he hasn’t forgotten his disciples. He is worried for them, because he knows what will happen. And also, he hopes to be able to draw strength from then. So he goes back to see how they are doing, He is about to be bitterly disappointed. Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Mark 14:37–38
We have just been told that in Gethsemane, Jesus fell to the ground and prayed to be somehow allowed to avoid what he was facing. We are told this that in the third person. But now, the very words that Jesus prayed are reported to us. In Gethsemane, we are standing on holy ground. Every word of God is pure, so let’s listen in on these words from the very heart of the Saviour. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
In Jesus’ long prophecy just before the Passover meal, he had told his disciples that the most important thing that they had to do in the future was to keep watch. Now, Jesus and the disciples have reached a place called Gethsemane, and it’s no coincidence that he tells them to keep watch. They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James, and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” – Mark 14:32–34
When Jesus tells his disciples that they will all fall away, his disciples can’t understand what he is talking about, and they are thrown into sadness and confusion. Why is it that Jesus has been saying these negative, and frankly shocking things all night? As usual, it’s Peter who speaks up. Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.” But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same. – Mark 14:29–31
On the way to the Mount of Olives, Jesus told his disciples that they will all abandon him, because of what he is about to go through. He is preparing them for what will happen. However, he tells them that this won’t be the end. But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee. Mark 14:28
Jesus and his disciples have just left the room where they have celebrated the Passover meal and are now walking past the Temple, out of the city, and then down into the Kidron Valley, and up onto the slopes of the Mount of Olives. This walk may have taken up to 40 minutes. Jesus took this opportunity to tell them some final things that were of great importance. “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written: “‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ – Mark 14:27
Jesus has just reinterpreted the meaning of the bread and the wine of the Passover meal for his disciples, effectively inaugurating the first “communion meal” or “Lord’s supper.” And now, in a remarkable statement, he points to the reality that his death will not be the end. “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” – Mark 14:25
Jesus now takes the cup of wine and, as he did with the bread, he gives it new meaning for his followers. Step by step, he is teaching them what he is about to do, which is the basis of their salvation. Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. – Mark 14:23–24
The uniqueness of this Passover meal continues. It is in fact, along with the first one, the most important Passover Meal in all of history. Because now, step by step, Jesus begins to reinterpret the meaning of the Passover for his disciples. While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” When he had taken the bread, the first thing he did was to give thanks, as was the Jewish custom before meals. This meal starts with joyful gratitude to God for the gift that is about to be received.
During the Passover meal with his disciples, Jesus makes an extraordinary announcement. For the disciples, to be openly in Jerusalem with Jesus meant that the fulfillment of all their dreams was at hand. Soon Jesus would announce himself as the promised Messiah-King, defeat his enemies, and then, when Jesus finally sat on the throne of David, they would all have their reward. But the announcement that Jesus makes suddenly and dramatically changes the mood in the room.
Every Jew at Passover was expected to eat the Passover meal with his family, and if no family was present, with his friends. And, if you were in Jerusalem, you were expected to eat it there, in the holy city. Jesus was in Jerusalem, but he had no family there, and no home in which to eat the Passover meal. Jesus solves this problem in a very interesting way.
We all know the story of Jesus, and we know that his time of ministry doesn’t have an easy ending. And now the time has come. One of Christ’s own provides the trigger for the final events in the ministry of Christ. “Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over” – Mark 14:10–11
Jesus has just defended the woman who has poured perfume over his head, from those who criticised and condemned her. But Jesus doesn’t finish there. He continues to praise what she has done with some of the strongest words of affirmation that he ever spoke. “Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Mark 14:6–8
When in Jerusalem, Jesus didn’t stay in the city itself. He usually stayed in the house of His friend Lazarus, in the town of Bethany, just outside Jerusalem. There He enjoyed peace and companionship. He knows his time at the Cross is drawing near, and at this time, Jesus receives a very special dinner invitation. “And being in Bethany in the house of Simon, the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.” – Mark 14:3 (KJV) In the seventh chapter of the Gospel of Luke, the dinner host isn’t called “Simon the Leper” but “the Pharisee.” They were almost certainly the same person. A leper wasn’t allowed to have any contact with other community members, so Simon must have been a Pharisee who Jesus had healed. When he heard that Jesus was in Bethany, Simon felt obliged to invite Him to dinner. Luke also tells us that the woman who gate-crashed the dinner was a notorious sinner in the town of Bethany. He also mentions that Jesus had forgiven her many sins. She brought all she had to Jesus. The value of the perfume was equivalent to more than a year’s wages. The alabaster jar was also precious. But she didn’t care. She broke it to pour the perfume on Christ’s head. What’s the lesson here? It’s that this woman valued nothing that she owned above the privilege of knowing Jesus. She brought everything she had to Him. That’s what happens when you realise how great the love of Jesus is for you and how complete His forgiveness and acceptance for you is. What is the most valuable thing in your life? Would you be willing to give it to Jesus? Think about why or why not. And if you were, what conditions would you put on your gift?
The high point of the Jewish calendar was the Passover. It was, for the Jews, one of the holiest times of the year. However, while Jesus is encouraging and preparing His disciples for what is to happen, the religious leaders are engaged in a very different activity. “After two days was the feast of the Passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death. But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people.” – Mark 14:1-2 This passage presents us with a bizarre contradiction. On the one hand, we are coming up to the holiest time of the Jewish year, in which the Passover festival is observed, representing salvation and life. On the other hand, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, who are responsible for being the spiritual leaders of the people in this observance, are plotting to kill the Son of God. This passage highlights the evil and self-delusional nature of religious hypocrisy. In the end, the plans of the chief priests and the teachers of the law came to nothing. They ended up arresting Jesus on the eve of the Passover and murdering him during the Passover itself. And in the end, Jesus returned from the grave anyway. These religious leaders who thought they were so carefully manipulating everything eventually lost it all in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. There is a vital lesson here for us. The chief priests and the teachers of the law ended up in this situation of gross hypocrisy because they were intent on protecting their interests first. If we claim to be followers of Jesus, we must put Jesus first in every aspect of our lives; otherwise, we will even unknowingly slide into hypocrisy. Is it time to examine our priorities?
Jesus has just told His disciples that He is like a man who leaves his house to go away and puts his servants in charge. He gives each of his servants specific tasks and puts one at the door to keep watch. Now, Jesus draws out the lesson. “Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” – Mark 13:35-37 Jesus emphasises that we cannot know precisely when the second coming will be. And Jesus repeats the word, “watch.” The most important task He has for us is to watch over his house and keep it safe from robbers and those who would harm it. This means continuing His work on earth. This means holding on to the message of Jesus. It means preserving and nurturing His people. The worst thing that a guard could do was fall asleep. The disciples would forget these instructions of Jesus all too soon. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus would tell them to watch, but they would all fall asleep, and in the end, they would all run away and desert him. The question is: Are you watching? You watch when you devote priority time to your relationship with Jesus. You do this by making time for reading God’s word, The Bible, and by taking solid time out to pray. It’s not about what you are watching out for but who you watch. We have to watch Jesus.
Jesus has been speaking about the end of the world and His return in glory. Now, He gives his disciples a critical warning. “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch.” – Mark 13:32-34 (NKJV) Jesus is indicating that in His earthly humanity, the Father had not yet revealed the time of His second coming when He spoke these words. However, today, the Son who sits at the right hand of the Father on the throne of heaven certainly knows when He will return. When Jesus says that His going away will be like a man who leaves His house and assigns a servant at the door to keep watch, the purpose of the man at the door wasn’t to keep watching to see when the master would return. His task was to stand at the door watching, protecting the house and its contents from thieves and damage. Jesus tells us that our most important mission until He returns is to look after His house. However, the most important thing that Jesus is warning about is the danger of predicting the exact time of His return. After His resurrection, Jesus said to His followers: It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His authority. Even when you cannot know them, are you willing to fully trust Jesus with the times and seasons of your life?
Do you remember that fig tree that Jesus cursed: the one that withered and died? It wasn’t just something pointless that he did out of annoyance. Not at all. He had in mind to use it for an important lesson, in fact, for all time. “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door.” – Mark 13:28-29 The lesson here is not merely that when you see the signs that Jesus has mentioned, you will know that the end is near. It’s not just that. You must remember what happened to the fig tree, because that’s what Jesus wants to bring to mind. The fig tree had put out leaves, indicating that summer was near. And so Jesus came looking for fruit, but it had none. It was all “show” but no fruit. This is a warning for his followers everywhere, especially at the end of the world. Jesus will come, and he will come looking for fruit. The Jewish nation at that time did not bear the fruit that Jesus sought. And the fig tree that Jesus cursed became a symbol for all the trees around Jerusalem, because when the Romans besieged the city, the first thing they did was cut down every single tree to build their siege works. What is the fruit that Jesus will come looking for? Some people think it’s the fruit of your sharing of the Gospel. That’s good, but that’s not what Jesus is talking about. Jesus is talking about what Paul later calls “the fruit of the Spirit”: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and so on. Is it the goal of your life to produce these kinds of fruit, or do you have a different goal?
We have come to the very climax of Jesus’ prophecy. He is responding to the question of his disciples about when the temple would be destroyed. Jesus makes it very clear that he hasn’t been just talking about the destruction of the temple, but of his second coming and the end of the world. “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.” – Mark 13:26-27
“At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.” – Mark 13:21-23 The word “Christ” is simply the Greek translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah.” Jesus very clearly warns his followers here that at the time of the end, there will be many false Christs. There will be all kinds of movements and people who will claim to be or to represent Christ and his message. They will even be supported by false prophets who will perform signs and wonders. The purpose of these Satanic signs and wonders will be to try to deceive the true followers of Jesus. Your only safety lies in relying on the words of Jesus. That’s why he says, ‘be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.
“When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop go down or enter the house to take anything out. Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that this will not take place in winter, because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again. If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them.” – Mark 13:14-20 What Jesus is saying here is that the prophecies of Daniel are important. How long has it been since you took a look at the book of Daniel? I encourage you to take another look at it and get to know it. Jesus certainly did.
Jesus says that everyone will hate you because of Him. And that’s why Jesus says that the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. This isn’t about believing some intellectual truth. The call of Jesus goes much deeper than that. What do you need to be doing today so that you will be able to stand firm tomorrow?
The disciples, as is natural to us human beings, we’re very interested in “when.” But Jesus rarely focused on the “when” of things. He was ultimately much more interested in the “who.” That’s why Jesus touches on the ‘when’ in this prophecy but focuses on the trouble and suffering that his followers will go through. And you’ll see that the climax of this prophecy is the ultimate “Who” – Jesus Christ coming in the clouds. Think about yourself. Are you usually thinking more about the ‘when’ than about people? Have you become so busy with timeframes and deadlines that you’ve forgotten what Jesus asks you to do?
Interestingly, Jesus wasn’t impressed by the things that impress us. The disciples focused on the earthly and the material. But Jesus, who could see all time in a single glance, focused on eternal realities. What one thing can you do that will help you focus less on materialism and more on the things of God?
Jesus was trying to lead the people to understand who He was. One of the most common questions in the Gospels is, “Who is this man?” Our salvation depends on our answer to this question. How would you answer it? Jesus isn’t looking for an intellectual answer but He wants us to have a personal relationship with Him.
One of the religious teachers has just asked Jesus which is the greatest commandment in the law. Jesus has answered that it is to love God and that the second commandment is to love our neighbour. Jesus emphasises that this is the central and guiding principle regarding how we should live our lives.
The Jewish people in Jesus’ time loved to debate an infinite number of questions endlessly. They particularly loved to talk about the law and all the various commandments. One of these teachers of the law was impressed with Jesus’ answers, and so he asked Jesus a question that he had been wondering about. Of all the commandments, which is the most important?
During the years of His ministry, Jesus has largely avoided Judaea, and its capital Jerusalem in particular. It’s here where His enemies are: the ones who are out to kill Him. So now, in His final week, right here in Jerusalem, He is walking on dangerous ground. Jesus is surrounded by those who hate Him, and by the traps they set. Here is one of those traps.
In this parable, the man who planted a vineyard and built a wall around it is God. The tenant farmers he asked to look after the vineyard represent the people of Israel, to whom he had entrusted his blessings. But when God wanted to have some of the fruit rightfully his, they wouldn’t give it to him. Remember how the day before Jesus had gone to find fruit on the fig tree but found none? It’s the same story. The servants whom the vineyard owner sent to collect some fruit were the prophets. God had continued to send them, although they were ridiculed, rejected, and even killed. Eventually, the man sends his beloved son, but they also kill the son in the tragic climax of this story. As you hear this parable, your natural reaction might be to think, “I could never do what those tenants did to the Son!” And that’s probably what Jesus’ hearer’s thought as well. Yet a few days later, they would call for his blood. Find a quiet place today and reflect on where you are in your relationship with Jesus.
God gives us some simple guidelines on prayer. First of all, Jesus says that we should pray with faith and not with doubt; secondly, we must believe that we have already received what we pray for; and finally, we need to make sure that we have forgiven others before we come to the Father with our requests. These are the secrets of effective prayer.
Jesus explained why He had cleansed the temple by saying: “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations, but you have made it a den of robbers.” The church should be a welcoming place for everyone, where they can connect with God. We turn the church into a den of robbers when we push our own agendas instead of God’s. It’s all about the attitude of our hearts and that’s something to think about.
James and John have just come up to Jesus and asked Him to give them the leading positions in His kingdom. Jesus tells them that the notions of authority and hierarchy that we find everywhere in the world don’t apply in the kingdom of God. Instead, greatness is measured through humble, selfless, sacrificial service. What is He saying? He’s telling them that greatness is measured only in love.
It’s interesting how Peter, James and John react to having witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus in His dazzling glory on the mountain top. And they certainly couldn’t understand what Jesus meant when He talked about “rising from the dead.” They threw around different ideas of what this could mean, all of them over-spiritualised, because they couldn’t get their heads around the possibility that Jesus meant just what He said.
The religious teachers taught that Moses and Elijah would come to earth to announce the coming of the Messiah. These were the two greatest prophets of their religion. But God the Father is displeased when Peter wants to build places of rest for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. God hides the scene from view and his voice is heard from heaven pointing to His beloved Son, and commanding all to listen only to Him. And then, when the three disciples recovered, Moses and Elijah were gone. They saw Jesus only.
Peter, James and John are part of Jesus’ inner circle, since He makes a point of including them in some very special events. And so they witness Jesus glorified and speaking with Moses and Elijah. We don’t know what they spoke about, but it would have been an incredible conversation to have listened in on.
When Jesus said He was going to Jerusalem, where He would be killed, Peter strongly rebuked Him and wanted to stop Jesus from going because he didn’t fully understand the purpose of Jesus’ mission. And Jesus, in turn, has rebuked Peter for standing in His way with his worldly thinking and lack of spiritual understanding. Jesus wants to explain to His disciples the real purpose of His mission and why He must go to Jerusalem and the cross.