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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Mark 14

 

 

Verse 1-2

Mark 14:1-2. The Decision of the Chief Priests.—Two days before the Passover, i.e. on Wednesday, if the feast day began on Friday at even, the religious leaders resolve to destroy Jesus, if possible before the feast begins. This decision explains the haste which marks the closing scenes. It also gives the preference to John's view that the Last Supper was not held on the Passover night, but on the night before (pp. 653, 743, 1 Corinthians 5:7 b*).

Mark 14:1. The seven days of unleavened bread followed the Passover (pp. 102f.). For the coupling of the two cf. 2 Chronicles 35:17.


Verses 3-9

Mark 14:3-9. The Anointing of Jesus.—Lk. records a parallel incident (not an alternative version of the same story) earlier in the life of Jesus. Jn. (John 12:1) places the event six days before the Passover. This change may be motived by symbolism, as the Paschal lamb was chosen on 10th of Nisan. But Mk.'s date is not indisputable. He inserts the story here as a preparation for the death of Christ (see especially Mark 14:8). The alabaster vessel and its contents are alike precious. The woman makes her last use of both. She breaks the cruse, perhaps in honour of the guest. Renan seems to have found such a custom in the East (see Swete). Or it may be, that another practice of the Hellenistic age has suggested this detail. "In anointing the dead, it was usual to break the flask and lay it in the coffin" (HNT). More simply we may suppose that the woman, in her eagerness, could not wait to open the vessel. [The breaking of the vase may have its ultimate root in the well-known custom of breaking what has been used by a sacred person, in order that the sanctity thus communicated to it may not prove dangerous to any one who might use it hereafter. Plates used for the meals of a sacred person are, in harmony with this taboo, frequently destroyed (p. 200, Leviticus 6:24-30*). Or in view of the custom mentioned in HNT, the breaking of the vessel may symbolise the death of the body (cf. Mark 14:8).—A. S. P.] Jesus defends this seeming waste. Immediate social utility is not the final guide to devotion. The woman seized a unique opportunity. The chance of serving Christ in the poor would continue and is likely to continue.

Mark 14:3. Simon, not otherwise known.—spikenard: note mg. There is little support for rendering liquid nard. [Fritzsche has argued strongly for the rendering "drinkable," since ointments were drunk mixed with wine. But "genuine" is much more probable. Or pistikes may be equivalent to pistakes and refer to the Pistacia Terebinthus, the resin of which, with other sweet scents, was mixed with oil of nard. See EBi., 4750f.—A. S. P.]

Mark 14:8 f. is assumed to be unhistorical by many scholars. But the foreboding of death might have taken the form of 8, and there seems to be no special reason for adding Mark 14:9 unless it were a genuine saying.


Verse 10

Mark 14:10 f. The Betrayal.—Judas helps the chief priests in the way they need. He undertakes to hand over Jesus quietly, without attracting the crowd. Schweitzer supposes Judas to have betrayed the Messianic secret which gave the chief priest confidence to put his question in Mark 6:2. But no such betrayal was necessary. Judas explained the time when, and the place where, Jesus could most conveniently be arrested. Mk. gives no hint as to his motive.


Verses 12-16

Mark 14:12-16. Preparation for the Last Supper.—Mk. regards the last supper as the Passover; contrast John 13:29; John 18:28; John 19:14. In this incident Jesus shows "a supernatural knowledge of circumstances as yet unrealised," as in the case of the triumphal entry (Mark 11:1 f.). But is it not possible that here we have some pre-arrangement intended to baffle Judas and the chief priests? The room, at any rate, is ready, furnished with carpets and couches.


Verses 17-21

Mark 14:17-21. Jesus Reveals the Treachery of Judas.—The other evangelists regard Judas as present at this meal. Mk. implies it, but does not explicitly state it. The reference to the Twelve in Mark 14:17 may be simply conventional (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:5). "He that eateth with me" (Mark 14:18) may not point to the immediate feast, but to Psalms 41:9 (HNT), and Mark 14:20 may simply strengthen this. Mk. does not describe an actual discovery of Judas, nor indicate how Judas departed, if he was present. With Mark 14:21; cf. Mark 9:42.

Mark 14:18. as they reclined (mg.): it was no longer the custom to stand at the Passover.


Verses 22-25

Mark 14:22-25. The Bread and the Wine.—After the eating of the lamb, the householder broke bread and distributed it, and then sent round the cup of blessing. Jesus seems to have invested this part of the meal with special significance. He associates it with His approaching death, He links the thought of His death with an act of communion which binds the disciple-band together. He couples His sacrifice with the new covenant which is to bring men forgiveness and direct knowledge of God (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34*), and with the hope of that day when He will drink a new kind of wine with His own in God's kingdom. "Newness" is characteristic of the kingdom.


Verses 26-31

Mark 14:26-31. On the Way to the Mount of Olives Jesus Foretells the Failure of the Disciples.—Having concluded the feast by singing the second half of the Hallel (Psalms 115-118), Jesus and His disciples go out to the Mount of Olives. Jesus warns His disciples that they will desert and deny Him. The warning is associated with Zechariah 13:7—perhaps due to later reflection.

Mark 14:30. The reference to the second cockcrow is peculiar to Mk. The detail has also been disputed on the ground that cocks were forbidden to be kept in Jerusalem. This is not a serious difficulty. Mk. may have misunderstood a simple reference to cockcrow, a term well-established in popular reckoning of time (cf. Mark 13:35). Also the prohibition may not have been effective.

Mark 14:31. The vigour of Peter's protest is emphasized in Mk.


Verses 32-42

Mark 14:32-42. Gethsemane.—On the other side of the brook Kidron, in a garden called Gethsemane (= oil-press) Jesus took the three most intimate disciples aside to help Him bear the burden of surrender. It has been suggested that they were not physically close enough to Jesus to hear the words of His prayer. Then, later, they must have been spiritually close enough to interpret the scene aright. Mk. uses a forcible phrase in Mark 14:33. Jesus began to be "full of terror and distress" (Weymouth). The second verb implies perplexity. Réville holds that the last part of Mark 14:38 "was obviously spoken by Jesus of Himself, and did not merely refer to the sleeping condition of the disciples." The words describe "the torments He was enduring." Perhaps the boldest interpretation of Gethsemane is given in Hebrews 5:7-10. Philippians 2:8 may also refer to it. The disciple who was ready to die with Jesus is unable to watch with Him one hour. The closest companions of Jesus cannot share His inner travail. Neither on the mount of transfiguration nor in the garden do they know what to answer (cf. Mark 14:40 with Mark 9:6; Rendei Harris, Memoranda Sacra, p. 92).

Mark 14:37. The name Simon has not been used since Mark 3:16. Is this significant?

Mark 14:41. it is enough: HNT and Wellhausen say, "Enough of sleep." De Zwaan has discovered that the word is often used in papyri on receipt-forms. It may then refer to Judas. "He has received" (the bribe). He has succumbed to the temptation. This is attractive (Exp. 1905, p. 459f., Moulton and Milligan, Vocabulary, pp. 57f.).


Verses 43-50

Mark 14:43-50. The Arrest.—Judas, familiar with Gethsemane, now comes with a band hastily armed with clubs and short swords such as private persons carried. They come as if expecting resistance, and one of them loses an ear (there is no miracle of healing in Mk. at this point). They treat Jesus as a bandit. A bandit will be preferred to Jesus by the crowd, when the choice is offered to them. The agreed sign by which Jesus is to be betrayed is the kiss with which the pupil used to salute his Rabbi.

Mark 14:49. I was daily with you in the temple: Mk. has only told us of three days. A longer ministry in Jerusalem seems implied.


Verse 51

Mark 14:51 f. The Young Man who Fled Naked.—A curious little incident peculiar to Mk. Is it a popular addition to the story, recalling Genesis 39:12 (so HNT), or is it a fulfilment of Amos 2:16 (so Loisy)? It is more naturally interpreted as a personal experience of the evangelist, as his signature to his portrait of Jesus.


Verses 53-65

Mark 14:53-65. The Trial before the Sanhedrin.—This trial is irregular in many ways. It was unlawful to hold such a trial at night. It is not, therefore, unhistorical (Montefiore, i. 345f.). Mk. speaks of the whole Sanhedrin meeting and of all condemning Jesus (Mark 14:55; Mark 14:64). This is his customary popular exaggeration, prompted here by desire to throw the guilt on all the religious leaders of Judaism (cf. Mark 15:1). The trial is really a preliminary investigation—a search for a charge on which Jesus may be condemned and handed over to Pilate. It is not certain that the Sanhedrin had lost the power of capital punishment, but under the circumstances, the leaders desired to thrust the responsibility for the death-sentence on to Pilate. Wellhausen thinks the first line of testimony, the saying of Jesus against the Temple, was the true foundation of the charge of blasphemy (cf. Mark 13:1*). To claim to be Messiah was not blasphemy. Montefiore rightly comments: "Though the prediction about the Temple may have been nearer blasphemy than the claim to be Messiah, still . . . it was not technically blasphemy . . . and if ‘blasphemy' could have been stretched to suit one offence, it could also have been stretched to suit the other" (i. 350). Jesus died for claiming to be king of the Jews, and He died in the confidence of His ultimate triumph.

Mark 14:60. For the silence of Jesus, cf. Isaiah 53:7.

Mark 14:65. This scene seems to be reflected in 1 Peter 2:20-23. Some trace it to OT influence; see Micah 5:1 (RV), Isaiah 50:6; Isaiah 53:3.


Verses 66-72

Mark 14:66-72. Peter's Denial.—Peter had followed into the inner court of the chief priest's palace (Mark 14:54). Here he is challenged by a maid-servant. He denies all knowledge and understanding of her meaning. The redundancy of the sentence befits his embarrassment. Later, in the porch that gave access to the courtyard, the maid repeats her challenge. Peter denies again. The third denial is accompanied with oaths. Mk. retains his second cock-crow.

Mark 14:72. The word rendered "when he thought thereon * is obscure. It may also mean "answering." Peter recalled the word of Jesus, and his tears were his answer (see Swete). [J. H. Moulton points out that the verb is found in the papyri in the sense "to set about" doing a thing. So here "he set to and wept," which is practically equivalent to RV. See also Allen's note.—A. S. P.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Mark 14:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/mark-14.html. 1919.

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