Betrayal, Desertion, Injustice and the Glory of the Gospel
Mark may seem to have written the most bare bones gospel account that we get in all of Scripture. Unlike the other three gospels, you don’t really see Jesus taking up long discourses with the people, and therefore you don’t get the same directness of the teachings of Jesus that you see elsewhere. However, what you do find in Mark is, what I like to call, a “superhero” Jesus who travels from place to place doing good works and performing marvelous signs. Though implicit to this is that he is preaching the gospel all along the way (Mark 1:38).
About a week ago, Pastor Gary preached on the beginning of what seems like such an odd climax to such a remarkable life as it is described in Mark 14:43-65. For over a year, we have studied the Gospel of Mark and seen and heard about Jesus healing the sick, forgiving sinners, commending the humble, rebuking the proud, and generally stirring things up wherever he goes.
Yet what we see in this passage by all accounts would have been considered merely the abrupt end of this controversial life were it not for the ultimate design of the resurrection. By way of review, we read about how Jesus was betrayed by one of his disciples (Mark 14:43-45), arrested by the religious leaders (Mark 14:46-49), abandoned by the rest of his disciples (Mark 14:50-52), and unjustly tried by his own people while they disgraced and mocked him (Mark 14:53-65). Hardly seems like an apt end for our Hero.
And yet what we do have here is a portrait of a Savior who was “tempted as we are, yet without sin,” (Hebrews 4:15). This is something that sets Jesus apart. He was betrayed, and yet he did not turn to his betrayer in anger (Matthew 26:50). He was abandoned, but he remained faithful to those who deserted him (2 Timothy 2:13). Injustice and evil surrounded him, yet he did not respond in turn (Mark 14:61). Sin upon sin was hurled at Jesus, and he just absorbed it. Sin stops at Jesus, for it was the Father’s good pleasure to make “him to be sin who knew no sin.” But why? “So that in him we might become the righteousness of God,” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The Upside Down Nature of the Kingdom of God
Much like everything else that Jesus did, his way of displaying his power was, to say the least, unconventional. And yet even this is full of glory. We should not expect God to do things the way we would (Isaiah 55:8-9), nor should we expect the way of the cross to make much sense to our natural minds (1 Corinthians 1:18-21); however, this is all part and parcel of what Jesus has been showing us in Mark for many chapters.
The natural ways of man are contrary to the ways of God. This is clearly evident from a brief reading of any of the gospels, and so we must think in an upside down sort of way in order to “get” the gospel. Therefore, we have a Hero that is disgraced, a Savior who is crushed, a Lord who serves all, and a living God who has come to die.
Gary commended us to continue to think and live in such a way so as to vehemently press upon the door of heaven and enter into this upside down Kingdom. In order to do that, we must look to Jesus. It’s why Mark wrote this gospel. It’s why we’re studying it.
So, as we were challenged by Gary’s sermon, let us beware of any blind spots that might keep us from seeing something that would prevent our entrance. Let us beware of the deceitfulness of hardship, so that we might not run from Jesus in times of trial. Let us lay down our lives for one another and for this city, so that we might achieve true greatness, bearing in mind that it is only by the grace of God that we can hope to attain to any of this, and the grace of God is made accessible by what we are reading here in the beginning of Jesus’s most severe sufferings as he prepares for his crucifixion (Hebrews 2:10-11).