Mark 14 Commentary


“Passover commemorated the liberation of the nation from Egypt, when God sent a plague that took the lives of the Egyptians’ firstborn.  The Israelites were spared by dabbing their doorways with the blood of a slaughtered lamb.  Many in Jesus’ day saw this first deliverance as the model for their final liberation.  Pilgrims came to commemorate this event filled with hopes and expectations that the messiah would eventually come to deliver Israel from foreign oppression and economic misery during the night of Passover.”[1]


“The woman’s extravagant act exhorts devotion and love for Christ.  Her gesture displays the proper personal devotion of the disciple toward Jesus…  The anonymous woman is the antithesis of the disciple who will betray his master for whatever money the priests will give him and those tightfisted bystanders who mouth pious clichés about giving to the poor but take no action.”[2]


“Jesus announces that this woman’s devotion will be remembered wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world.  People will understand more clearly what her act of pouring out precious perfume on Jesus’ head means when they recognize that he poured out his blood for the many.  Jesus announcement also affirms that the gospel will be preached to all the nations.”[3]


“This woman’s devotion stands in stark contrast to Judas’ disloyalty.  Judas is looking for the appropriate opportunity to betray Jesus, and his treachery will never be forgotten.  He is willing to sacrifice Jesus to obtain material rewards for himself.  The woman on the other hand, seizes an opportunity to show love to Jesus and sacrifices her precious gift for him.  Her act will never be forgotten either.”[4]

“Attempts to find the reason or reasons to explain why Judas did what he did are diversions that prevent us from looking at our own potential betrayal.  If we convince ourselves that Judas acted for this or that reason, we can also convince ourselves that we would not succumb to such perfidy.  If not specific reason can be given except greed or Satan, then we all are susceptible.  We too can betray Jesus for all the temptations in life that may snare us.”[5]


Jesus, knowing full well that his life’s last hours are slipping away, decides to make one last appeal of love to Judas.  Judas must have been startled at being found out by Jesus.  Jesus was surely able to stop Judas from betraying him, but chooses not to overrule Judas’ free will.  He does not force him, rather, he opens the door for Judas to speak up, then warns him of the consequences.  Jesus gives Judas every opportunity to ask for forgiveness and to be forgiven.  Called to repent by the very Son of God, Judas resists, refuses, rejects the offer.  He will recline with the rest of the disciples and take the cup and bread, then go out into the darkness to do the deed.  Judas rejects the chance to repent.


Blood sealed or inaugurated a covenant. In Exodus 24:3 – 8, 11, Moses took the blood and sprinkled it over the people saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words” (24:8; see Zech. 9:11; Heb. 9:19 – 20). Jesus’ sacrificial death is also a covenant-making event. It marks a new act of redemption and begins a new relationship between God and the people — one that supersedes the old.[6]


The cup may represent God’s wrathful judgment, the awful consequences of God’s judgment on sinful humanity (Pss. 11:6; 16:5; 23:5; 75:8 – 9; 116:13; Isa. 51:17 – 23; Jer. 16:7; 25:15 – 18; 27:46, 51; 49:12; 51:7; Ezek. 23:31 – 34; Lam. 2:13; 4:21; Hab. 2:15 – 16; Zech. 12:2; Rev. 14:10; 16:19; 17:4; 18:3, 6). On the other hand, the cup may simply refer to Jesus’ death and the suffering he must endure. Jesus uses the cup and baptism as symbols of his redemptive death (Mark 10:38, 45). He connects the cup to the hour in 14:35; and in 14:41, Jesus says that the hour has come when he is handed over to sinners. Jesus prays to be delivered from death; instead, he will be delivered through death and glorified by the resurrection.

In Gethsemane, Jesus meets the dreadful silence of heaven. There is no reassuring voice from heaven proclaiming, “This is my Son, whom I love.” No dove descends; no ministering angels come to serve him. God has already spoken, and his Son must obey. Jesus overcomes the silence, fights off the human temptation to do as he wills, and through prayer acquiesces to God’s will. He will not try to evade the cup either by slipping away in the dark or by resorting to violence. He will accept the nails of the cross as he accepted the stones of the desert.[7]


This arrest had to be made quickly and quietly, with minimal disruption or publicity, in an effort to avoid an unnecessary disturbance.  This was especially since a large disturbance would force the Roman authorities to step in to halt this scheme.  Although people knew Jesus well by sight, Judas felt that in the dim light of the garden, they needed a definite indication of whom they were to arrest – so he arranged with them a signal to identify Jesus…


At the very moment of betrayal, Judas goes to Jesus, kisses Him and calls him “Rabbi”.  One commentator notes, “The sign of the kiss reflects the normal greeting one gave a respected teacher.  One kissed the hand out of deference or the cheek if one considered oneself an equal.  Judas addresses Jesus with the honorific title, “Rabbi,” and kisses him.  Judas gives Jesus no sign that their fellowship has been broken.  He wants everything to appear normal up to the last second, when guards rush to capture him.”[8]


The identity of the young man is not specifically named.  “However, his anonymity may suggest that this was John Mark, writer of this Gospel.”[9]

The young man’s escape reflects the “every man for himself, save yourself if you can” mindset that swept through the followers of Jesus.  A commentator notes, “The craven fear of this young man who is seized and stripped and escapes into the darkness compares badly with the courage of Jesus, who is seized and stripped and does not escape but is crucified in the darkness.”[10]


Why did Peter follow him at a distance?  Perhaps because he was torn – torn between his vows of loyalty made before Jesus and his desire to save his skin.  Unable to reject Jesus completely, Peter follows at a distance.  Before we condemn Peter’s cowardice, we ought to acknowledge that Peter follows Jesus, which is more than what many of us would do in such situations.  A commentator states, “Sometimes we tell this story in such a way as to do Peter far less than justice.  The thing we so often fail to recognize is that up to the very last Peter’s career this night had been one of fantastically reckless courage.  He had begun by drawing his sword in the garden with the reckless courage of a man prepared to take on the whole mob by himself.  In that scuffle he had wounded the servant of the high priest.  Common prudence would have urged that peter should lie very low.  The last place anyone would have dreamed that he would go to would be the courtyard of the high priest’s house – yet that is precisely where he did go.”[11]


“For the first time in the Gospel, ‘The Son of God’ title appears on the lips of a human character in the story.  Only demons (3:11; 5:7) and the voice from the cloud (1:11; 9:7) have uttered it until now.  Also for the first time in the Gospel (see 1:34; 3:11-12; 8:30; 9:9, 30-31), Jesus publicly accepts that he is the Messiah, with his reply: ‘I am.’”[12]

This implication would be blasphemous if proven wrong.  A commentator sharply puts it this way: “Either the high priest is correct that Jesus is a deluded blasphemer, or Jesus is correct and the high priest is the deluded blasphemer.”[13]


Peter remembered Jesus’ words.  Upon sinning, upon the reminder that he had sinned, Peter remembered.  And when those words of Jesus were juxtaposed next to his own words of betrayal, the weight of what he has just done was laid upon him.  There is a key component to having godly sorrow in Peter’s response.  One needs to remember.  One needs to juxtapose his actions next to the word of God, the warnings of God.  Upon such a point, one can no longer maintain the lie that he is okay – all such fallacies fade away, and he can only break down and weep.  What did Peter realize upon remembering Jesus’ words?  That Jesus knew it all along – that Jesus knew how weak Peter was, how false his words were – even better than Peter knew himself.  With the self-hatred that comes with self-realization, Peter also realized that Jesus knew it all along, and yet loved him all along.

[1] David E. Garland, Mark, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996) 514.

[2] David E. Garland, Mark, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996) 518.

[3] David E. Garland, Mark, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996) 517.

[4] David E. Garland, Mark, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996) 516.

[5] David E. Garland, Mark, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996) 522.

[6] Garland. “The Last Supper (14:17 – 25)” In The NIV Application Commentary: Mark. By Garland, 529. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, © 1996.

[7] Garland. “The Gethsemane of Jesus (14:32 – 36)” In The NIV Application Commentary: Mark. By Garland, 540-541. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, © 1996.

[8] Garland, David.  The NIV Application Commentary: Mark, p.545

[9] NIV Study Bible, verse notes

[10] Garland, David.  The NIV Application Commentary: Mark, p.548

[11] Barclay, William.  The Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of Mark, p.351-352

[12] Garland, David.  The NIV Application Commentary, p.562

[13] Garland, David.  The NIV Application Commentary, p.563

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