Tuesday, 17 July 2012
Mark 14:43-52 - Jesus is arrested
Judas comes to betray Jesus by identifying him with a kiss so that the mob sent by the religious authorities could arrest him. Their biggest problem with Jesus was 'blasphemy', which means claiming to be God when you're not God (John 10:33). Judas has been watching for an opportunity to hand Jesus over (Mark 14:10-11) and Jesus had predicted that one of his closest 12 friends would betray him (Mark 14:18-20). Judas makes his own mind up but his actions are totally fulfilling everything Jesus said would happen.
One of Jesus' friends sticks up for him violently by slicing off an ear of one of the mob. From John's gospel account, we know that this was Peter (John 18:10). His passion is admirable but his perspective and methods are wrong. Jesus is not planning to win his battle with swords but by his own sacrificial death on the cross for the sin of the world (Colossians 2:15).
Jesus challenges the religious thugs but he knows their actions are part of the fulfillment of prophecy. He himself had said it would happen this way (Mark 8:31).
All Jesus' friends desert him at this point and run away scared. Again, fulfillment of prophecy from hundreds of years before, which spoke of God striking the shepherd and the sheep scattering (Zechariah 13:7).
And then we have this seemingly random detail about a guy who runs off naked from the scene. What's that about? It's not fulfillment of prophecy like the rest of this section. So why is it included? Scholars tell us that the description of the robe implies someone who was well-off and it's thought by many that this is Mark himself. This detail is perhaps the author's way of saying he was there too and even he ran away and left Jesus alone.
These are dark times and even though the disciples can't see it, there is hope. Jesus is not choosing to fight a battle with swords but he does have a battle plan - one that will get a lot worse before it gets better.