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. Bookmark Mark 14 & Zechariah. Psalm 118 is a handout and we’ll read that together as Responsive Reading. As for Mark 14 and Zechariah, go ahead and bookmark these places for convenience.
My outline this morning will follow the movements of these men geographically across the map:
- As they move out to the Mt. of Olives (v26), Jesus offers The Prediction: They will all fall away
- Then, Jesus & the 3 move to Gethsemane (v32), 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 (v42), 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, and 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! Maybe, with the song, they’ve just sung, and the teaching they’ve experienced, maybe, just maybe, they’re starting to get it.
This verse Jesus quotes from the Old Testament, specifically, 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. In this regard, Jesus is like the shepherd-kings:
- Moses, who as the shepherd-king built the 1st Tabernacle which traveled with the children of Israel.
- David and/or Son of David: I say ‘David’s son’ because he 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. (Song: these are the days of Elijah)
- 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 storyline for us to follow. For example, in Zechariah we see:
- 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); In 9.11, you see his willingness to sacrifice himself – to die for his people. This unique combination of humility and sovereignty is seen in the imagery of an 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 who 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 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 camp’ 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, 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)
Have you ever said something like: “Man, this is killing me!” I’m not sure we’ve ever been to the state of distress and sorrow like Jesus! So, in this state of distress, trouble, and sorrow (even unto death!) he asks the three to remain here and watch. The idea is to stay awake and be alert, keep watch with me.
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 asking the Father for another way, stating, “you can do anything… anything is possible for you.” And here’s his request: Remove this cup from me.
Doesn’t this just really catch you off guard? It does me. I have a tough time reconciling the sovereignty of God over the free will of man. You can see this tension here. We can talk about that at WEBS if you’d like. For now, let’s look at something unique that Mark is doing.
This is big, for a couple of reasons:
- Chiasm: the structure of this passage…
A. The Prediction: Fall Away (27-28)
B. Reply: Peter’s Denial (29-31)
C. Disciples: Sit here (32)
D. The Three: Watch and Pray (33-34)
E. Climax: Distress, Troubled, and Sorrowful (33-36)
D. The Three: Sleeping times 3
C. Disciples: joined with Judas and the Mob
B. Response: Peter’s Defense
A. 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 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 the story of seven brothers and their mother, who praised God and mocked 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 at 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 – wimp 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 wimps 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 that 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.
This event, which occurs in all four Gospels, is the shortest version in our Bibles. Mark mentions only that some individual struck with a sword, cutting off the ear of the high priest’s servant. But here’s what we know from the other gospels:
- John identifies for us the attacker, who he says is Peter.
- And John says the servant’s name was Malchus (John 18:10).
- Both Luke and John identify the severed ear as the “right ear” (Luke 22:50; John 18:10).
- Mark does not mention any response by Jesus to the man (He does, however, rebuke his opponents; see vv. 48–49).
- In the other three gospels, Jesus calls for the men to stop,
- While Matthew adds the proverb that “all who draw the sword will die by the sword”
- And that if he wished, he could call twelve legions of angels to his defense (Matt 26:52–53).
- Luke alone lets us in on the miracle of Jesus healing Malchus’ ear (Luke 22:51).
So, taking from the other gospels, These men 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.
Many scholars, authors, and composers believe that God abandoned his Son, as well. That is why they say he cries out: My God, My God, why has thou forsaken me! Eloi, Eloi, Lema Sabachthani. They say that is why the sun did not shine, etc.
We sing: How great the pain of searing loss; The Father turns His face away; As wounds which mar the Chosen One; Bring many sons to glory.
I’m not so sure that this is true, though. In spite of the fact that so many teach this. I know, I know, who am I to question what has been taught throughout the ages. But this one verse caught my attention once: Ps 22 – the whole Psalm is contextually aligned with the Scripture: in v24 For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.
It appears, in spite of Christ’s struggle and the Father’s will to crush him, The father did not turn away and hide his face from his son.
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, as 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 faith 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?