PARTNERS WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT: PART LXXIV
Jesus and his disciples were led to the Upper Room and ate the Passover after the sun had set on preparation day, which was two days before the Passover. It was night! And it stayed dark long after Jesus had died on the cross, when darkness covered the land. After Jesus and his disciples had their meal and after Jesus gave them their instructions, they went in the dark to Gethsemane. While it was dark, Judas went to the chief priests and sold out Jesus. Jesus was accustomed to be in Jerusalem on Passover time (Luke 2:41-52), and He may have known where Gethsemane was. But, it being night, it is more likely that He had someone lead them there, as Jesus had done for the Passover celebration. The presence of the young man, who escaped naked bears this out. That young man stayed around and heard and saw what was taking place. The witness in the Gospel of John differs from the Synoptics and we shall share his story later. Time had passed and John Zebedee’s memry had aged before his story was put into writing.
Gethsemane was not a public place. In those days there were no public parks, as there were none where I was born eight-nine years ago. Every foot of land was owned by some rich or wealthy family, who would lease or sell to create income. Gethsemane was on the Mount of Olives with an olive grove that belonged to a prominent family, like Mary and her son Mark. And apparently they raised olives for income. The person Jesus chose taking with Him and his disciples to Gethsemane was one whom He loved and whom Jesus trusted to accurately report what would take place. And all this happened while his disciples were physically not able to witness all that Jesus would endure, suffer, die, and come back from the dead. Imagine what the story of Jesus would have become without the witness of John Mark. During Jesus’ last days on earth, Mark was the most reliable witness of the proceedings against Jesus. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea have added their testimony, with the exception of Jesus burial, except they also were silenced (John 7:50-52). All the other witnesses were hostile and unreliable. Peter and the disciples knew how valuable John Mark was, so did Luke, Matthew, and John; so did Paul, Barnabas, Silas and many, who found refuge in Jerusalem. With all this in mind, let us read what John Mark heard and saw and someone else wrote it down later. Then, who was the young man who followed Peter and assisted him?
And a young man followed him (Peter), with nothing but a linen cloth about his body, and they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked (Mark 14:51).
MARK’S ACCOUNT OF JESUS IN GETHSEMANE
And they went to a place which was called Gethsemane; and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I pray.” And he took with him Peter and aes and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Faher, all things are possible to thee; remove this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what Thou wilt.” And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to answer him. And he came the third time, and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come; the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand” (Mark 14:32-42).
MARK’S ACCOUNT OF JESUS’ ARREST
And immediately, while Jesus was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I shall kiss is the man; seize him and lead him away under guard.” And when he came he went up to him at once, and said, “Master!” And he kissed him, And they laid hands on him seized him. But one of those who stood by drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled.” And they all forsook him, and fled (Mark 14:43-50).
MARK’S ACCOUNT OF JESUS’ ACCUSERS
And they led Jesus to the high priest; and all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes were assembled. And Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priests; and he was sitting with the guards, and warming himself at the fire. Now the chief priests and the whole council sought testimony against Jesus to put him to death; but they found none. For many bore false witness against him, and their witness did not agree. And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying, “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” Yet not even so did their testimony agree. And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? But he was silent and did not answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am; and you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” And the high priest tore his garments, and said, “Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death. And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” And the guards received him with blows (Mark 14:53-65).
MARK’S ACCOUNT OF PETER’S DENIAL
And as Peter was below in the courtyard (he was not in the room where Jesus was tried), one of the maids of the high priest came; and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him, and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” And he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean.” And he went out into the gateway. And the maid saw him, and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” But again he denied it. And after a little while again the bystanders said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean.” But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” And immediately the cock crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept (Mark 14:66-72).
MARK’S ACCOUNT OF PILATE’S ROLE WAS BRIEF, BUT IT WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT ACT IN REDEMPTION HISTORY
God had to partner with Pilate to bring His Son home. God, the Father, had sent His Son as a missionary into the world, and only the leader of the world could remove “His Rival.” The Hebrew High Priests had become ineligible to offer up the annual atoning sacrifice. The Jewish leaders were the accusers and also the prosecutors; however, they could not carry out the sentence of death, especially the death of a king, whom they considered being a rival of Caesar. In that sense, the delegate of Rome was authorized to carry out the execution, as designated by the accusers and prosecutors; namely, the crucifixion.
The Jewish leaders delivered Jesus to Pilate. And Pilate had only one question that granted him the right to obey the order of Jesus’ accusers: “Are you the king of the Jews?” Mark, and his fellow evangelists, Luke, and Matthew have Jesus tell Pilate that he had to decide whether Jesus was a king with the words: “You have said so.” In a way, it is similar to a teacher, who came to class with a live bird in his hand and with the intent to make a point, he asked his students, “Is the bird alive or dead?” A meek voice whispered audibly, “As you wish, Sir.” Only, Pilate did not wish Jesus’ death; and therefore, he bargained for Jesus’ life for Barabbas. In John’s terms and language, the Jewish leaders handed “The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” to Pilate. And therefore, it was Pilate who sacrificed the “Lamb (Jesus)” on the altar of atonement for humanity.
And as soon as it was morning the chief priests, with the elders and scribes, and the whole council held a consultation; and they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate wondered.
Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. And among the rebels in prison, who had been committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabas. And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he was wont to do for them, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man whom you call the King of the Jews?” And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” And Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas; and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified (Mark 15:1-15).
WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE DID PILATE HAVE TO FACE?
Moses and Jeremiah have given the reader a bird’s eye view, where one can see only one defining character; namely, stubbornness. It was the major reason Jesus could not do much (John 12:36-43) .
Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, “Take this book of the law, and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against you. For I know how rebellious and stubborn you are; behold, while I am yet alive with you, today you have been rebellious against the LORD: how much more after my death! Assemble to me all the elders of our tribes, and our officers, tha I may speak these words in their ears and call heaven and earth to witness against them. For I know that after my death you will surely act corruptly, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and in the days to come evil will befall you, because you will do what is evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger though the work of your hands” (Deuteronomy 31:24-29).
“And when you tell the people all these words, and they say to you, ‘Why has the Lord pronounced all this great evil against us? What is our iniquity? What is the sin that we have committed against the LORD our God?’ then you shall say to them: ‘Because your fathers have gone after other gods and have served and worshiped them, and have forsaken me and have not keep my law, and because you have done worse than your fathers, for behold, every one of you follows his stubborn evil will, refusing to listen to me; therefore I will hurl you out of this land into a land which neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you shall serve other gods day and night, for I will show you no favor’” (Jeremiah 16:10-13).