Title: The Abused Shepherd-King
Text: Mark 14.27-50
Introduction: We’ll be here in three different texts this morning: Mark 14, Zechariah some; Psalm 118. Mark these places for convenience.
My outline this morning will follow the geographical map for these guys:
- As they move out to the Mt. of Olives, Jesus offers The Prediction: They will all fall away
- Then, Jesus & the 3 move to Gethsemane, The Garden Prayer: Alone, because the others are sleeping
- Finally, Jesus and the 3 move back to the Mt. O w/ the disciples and are joined by Judas and the Mob, The Prediction: It is fulfilled as they all flee!
rd v 26; I wish I knew the hymn; we can safely assume it was one of the hymns of the Hallel; at this stage of the Passover celebration they were probably at Psalm 118 – which would be sung antiphonally; (Read it together); then the mood changes as Jesus tells them plainly in v 27;
I. The Prediction: Fall Away (27-31)
exp.: As they walk and sing, the mood changes when Jesus the reality of this night and tomorrow hit him hard in v 27: You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ Now you might expect Peter to pull Jesus aside and tell him once again not to be so negative – but that didn’t work out so well the last time that happened!
This Scripture Jesus quotes is from Zechariah; Zechariah is filled with prophecies about the Messiah; we learn a lot about the Messiah from Zechariah. One characteristic in particular is Zechariah’s emphasis on the Messiah as the Temple Builder. He is like the shepherd-kings:
- Moses, who as the shepherd-king built the 1st Tabernacle which traveled with the children of Israel.
- David’s Son: I say ‘David’s son’ because his is the Son of David. David , the shepherd-king was not allowed to build the Temple, but instead that task was given to his son.
- Zerubabbel: He, too is a pattern, a type of Christ; he, too is a Temple builder; he came and rebuilt Solomon’s Temple after the devastation of the exile. The sheep were scattered abroad and he served as a ‘shepherd-king’ re-building the Temple. The Word of the Lord came in Zechariah 4.6-10;
Mark seems to be very familiar with Zechariah, taking from the 2nd half of Zechariah some of his prophecies and adding them to the story for us to follow
- The Messiah’s Character – we see this future figure filled with righteousness and yet displaying deep humility (9.9); His Reign is Universal (9.10); This unique combination of humility and sovereignty is seen in the imagery of a abused shepherd-king;
- The Shepherd-king Pattern: When I say shepherd-king, Can you see Moses? Can you see David? Zechariah continues to build on this imagery of this shepherd-king is one who is abused; rd Zech 12.10; 13.7; the Lord speaks to the sword: Strike the shepherd;
Jesus is quoting from this text where Yahweh says to the Sword: Strike the Shepherd. This is the Lord’s doing; Isaiah: Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him. But Jesus doesn’t end with this statement: you’ll all fall away. Look at what he says next: rd v 28; I’m going to die, you’ll be scattered, but I will be raised up and we will be brought back together. And, I’ll meet you in Galilee.
But Peter doesn’t catch all of what Jesus is saying. He only hears the negative statement of their falling away.
ill.: Do you ever do that? Listen to the 1st part of what is being said, but not the whole thing? It seems that Peter has done that constantly, starting back in 8.31; here, Peter has missed it again. Jesus is going to die and rise again. If Peter dies defending Jesus, he’ll miss that part!
app.: Well, Jesus leaves the sound of their voices resonating in the air. Me, too!
t.s.: So, they arrive at the wherever it is they’re staying at Gethsemane.
II. The Garden: Gethsemane (32-42)
exp.: rd v 32; this word ‘sit’ has different meanings and from the situation at the end of this passage, it seems to mean ‘set up’ here. This word is used in the OT by God to tell David that he will set a descendant of his on the throne. So, these guys set up camp – maybe it already kind of was. Rd 33a; Jesus then takes the three others with him: Peter, James and John.
Think about these three:
- Peter has just declared that he would never abandon Christ. He will go to prison or even fight to the death for him. Keep that in mind.
- These other two were the ones that asked him previously that one of them might sit on his right and the other on his left. They declared that they were able to be baptized with the baptism of Jesus and drink from the cup that he will drink from. They said so ignorantly. ‘Cup’ often times has the idea of wrath with it. It is ‘poured’ out. They just don’t get it.
And here they have an opportunity to step up. For what they don’t see – and honestly, what I’m not sure we grasp – is Christ’s moment of…. Fear? Uncertainty?
I know, you’re like: what a minute Fred! This is God in the flesh. He ain’t scarit of nuthin’!
Bear with me….
Rd v 33b-34; note those three words:
- Sorrowful (even unto death)
So in this state of distress, trouble and sorrow (even unto death!) he ask the three to remain here and watch. The idea is to stay awake and be alert.
Then, what does Jesus do? He walks a little distance away and cries out to the Father. Rd v 36; “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Here is Jesus acknowledging that all things are possible. And here’s his request: Remove this cup from me.
This is big, for a couple of reasons:
- Chiasm: the structure of this passage…
- The Prediction: Fall Away (27-28)
- Reply: Peter’s Denial (29-31)
- Disciples: Sit here (32)
- The Three: Watch and Pray (33-34)
- Climax: Distress, Troubled, and Sorrowful (33-36)
- The Three: Sleeping times 3
- Disciples: joined with Judas and the Mob
- Response: Peter’s Defense
- The Prediction: Fulfilled
So, with this information, let’s take a deeper look at this passage. If, this is correct – Mark’s focus then would be this moment – Christ’s suffering emotionally, spiritually.
- This is so… Un-Christ-like. Mark has presented to us someone who is unflappable in the Messiah. The Religious Leaders have tried to trip him up many times. Through all of the healings, feedings, struggles, storms – never once does the Messiah show weakness. But take his reaction to this now and compare it with many who’ve died for the faith.
Ill.: I am always amazed at the strength and courage of martyrs for Christ. Consider seven brothers and their mother, who praise God and mock the arrogance of Antiochus the king even as they are one by one gruesomely tortured and executed. After six have died, the youngest refuses to recant and even taunts the king:
But you, unholy wretch, you most defiled of all mortals, do not be elated in vain and puffed up by uncertain hopes, when you raise your hand against the children of heaven. You have not yet escaped the judgment of the almighty, all-seeing God. For our brothers after enduring a brief suffering have drunk of ever-flowing life, under God’s covenant; but you, by the judgment of God, will receive just punishment for your arrogance (Strauss, p. 637).
Or consider Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, when brought before a magistrate and told he would be burned at the stake if he did not recant. Tim Keller records it this way:
The magistrate said in effect, “I will give you one more chance: You can reject Christianity, you can recant, and avoid execution.” Some witnesses wrote down Polycarp’s reply: “The fire you threaten burns but an hour and is quenched after a little….You do not know the fire of the coming judgment….But why do you delay? Come, do what you will.
Keller, in his book on Mark, also tells of Nicholas Ridley and Hugh Latimer, who were burned at the stake for their faith in Oxford in 1555. They were tied side by side, and when the fire was lit, it is said that Latimer said to Ridley: Be of good comfort Master Ridley, and play the man: we shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace in England, as I trust shall never be put out (Keller, p. 191).
But Christ is struggling in this moment. You know the story already, don’t you? He returns and pleads with them to stay awake and pray. Do they? No, these men who in their arrogance tried to instruct Christ – whimp out.
app.: Isn’t that so like most of us as humans? We speak boldly of a faith in Christ and if called on to die, we’d march right up to the stake and volunteer our hands to be tied. Die for Christ? Yes, and we’d sing praises to God as we burned at the stake. But ask us to watch and pray for one hour and what is our response?
We are whimps when it comes to praying. You and I are not willing to give up sleep.
As a church, I hear you say – we should be praying – we need a time of prayer about this matter. We have one: every Wednesday night.
So what is it about this struggle that is different than these Martyrs? Well, Christ isn’t being martyred. He is going through something quite different. He is about to bear the sins of humanity. He is standing on a precipice which overlooks the flames of hell. He is standing before the open gates of hell and he feels the rush of heat blow past his soul. He is about to bear the penalty for your sin and my sin.
t.s.: The wages of sin is death…but the free gift of eternal life would not be a possibility today if he hadn’t paid this price. He returns a third time to find them sleeping in v 41, but it is too late to prepare in prayer now – rd v 42: Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
III. The Prediction: Fulfilled (43-50)
exp.: display the chiasm; Jesus returns to the place where he left the disciples earlier in time to meet up with Judas and a mob that has come to arrest him. Judas betrays Jesus with a greeting and a kiss. They lay hands on Jesus and Peter decides now to act in defense. He cuts off the ear of Malchus, but Jesus stops it all. Rd v 48-49; and the prophecy comes true in v 50 – they all left him and fled. So quick to get away, one young man who had stripped down to his towel, probably cleaning himself up for the night, when someone grabbed him….rd 51-52;
t.s.: And the prophecy is fulfilled.
Conclusion: I wouldn’t say that Christ was depressed in our story. But, he sure was hurting, struggling with all that he was going through.
Application: Christ was distressed and troubled as his soul became very sorrowful, even unto death. While at his lowest point, entering into the suffering and persecution he would face, all of his friends – and enemies, would abandon him. Even the Father would turn his back on him as he carried the sins of the world on his shoulders (Ps 22). That is why he cried out, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me” while hanging on the cross. He endured this suffering and death alone.
Therefore, in light of this:
- When we endure the hardest of times, there is one who understands far better than we know! Tim Keller writes: “there’s a gap between the desires of your heart and the circumstances of your life, and the bigger the gap, the greater the suffering.” I think the trick then is to close the gap between our desires and our circumstances. I know that’s not easy. I’m not saying it is. Maybe I’m saying just try to be more realistic and genuine in where you are. And Remember, The writer of Hebrews reminds us that God has promised us that he will never leave or forsake us. Let us then hold on to the promise of God.
- Let us be cautious and not so glib in our commitment to Christ. Sure, we stand and say, I’ll not abandon you, I’ll go to prison for you, I’ll even die for you! But, what are we like when he asks us to watch and pray for just one hour with him? Is the commitment of your displayed mostly in your activity with others? Or, can you honestly say you fight and defend the faith on your knees before the Father in prayer.
- Let us be cautious when we handle the Word of God – not to take part or even some, but the whole counsel of God. Peter heard the part about Jesus going to die, but he missed the wonderful part about their planned reunion.
- As you consider Christ facing Hell in all of its horror and terror, do you know that without Christ, that penalty is still yours? Won’t you trust him this morning as your Passover Lamb?