What does Mark chapter 14 mean?The final chapter before Jesus' crucifixion starts with Mark's characteristic "sandwiched" stories, which devolve to pure tragedy. While Jewish leaders and Judas prepare for His betrayal, Jesus concentrates—still—on teaching the disciples the truth about Himself, themselves, and what the Jewish Messiah really is.
The Pharisees, Sadducees, chief priests, and elders have joined together to destroy Jesus. Their main setback is the crowd (Mark 14:1–2). Jesus just spent a week humiliating the Jewish religious leaders and winning the hearts of the people (Mark 11—12). He must be arrested when He's relatively unprotected or the crowd may riot (Mark 14:1–2).
For at least the second time, possibly the third (Luke 7:36–50; John 12:1–8), a woman anoints Jesus with perfume. At the home of Simon the Leper, an unidentified woman anoints Jesus' head on the day the Passover lambs are being anointed (Mark 14:3–9). Jesus praises her gracious act of worship that prepares Him for His burial the next afternoon.
The mood turns dark again as Judas approaches the chief priests, offering to betray Jesus to them (Mark 14:10–11). If the Jewish leaders need to prevent a riot, they'll have to arrest Jesus at night away from the crowds, when it's hard to see and there are few witnesses. Judas will tell them when and where. It's possible that Judas has become disillusioned with Jesus' refusal to become a military or political Messiah, leading him to actively look for a profitable way out of the situation.
Mark describes the Passover meal with the disciples (Mark 14:12–21) while John goes into greater detail about what Jesus taught them (John 13—17). In Egypt, the blood of lambs protected the Israelites from death (Exodus 12). As Jesus prepares to shed His own blood to bring life to the world, He dismisses Judas to set the stage (John 13:21–30) and transforms that Passover meal into the Lord's Supper (Mark 14:22–25).
After their meal, Jesus and the disciples go to a garden on the Mount of Olives where Jesus prophesies their abandonment of Him (Mark 14:26–31). The disciples will scatter, and Peter will deny he even knows Jesus.
Jesus separates from most of the disciples and tells Peter, James, and John to pray that they will be strong in the face of temptation. Jesus walks farther and collapses before His Father in a tortured prayer, simultaneously asking to forgo the cross and submitting His will. The three disciples sleep and are not prepared for what comes next (Mark 14:32–42).
Judas returns, leading a crowd of guards and servants to arrest Jesus (Mark 14:43–50). Judas approaches Jesus with a kiss to identify Him. In the dark and chaos, Peter slices off the ear of a servant (John 18:10), but Jesus heals the man (Luke 22:51) and goes peacefully. The disciples scatter, as He said they would.
Of all four Gospels, only Mark mentions that a young man also flees (Mark 14:51–52). The guards try to grab him, but he escapes into the night, leaving behind the linen wrap that served as his only clothing.
Mark combines Jesus' trials before Annas, a former high priest, and Caiaphas, the current high priest (John 18:12–13). Members of the Sanhedrin gather all the witnesses they can find to uncover a crime they can charge Jesus with (Mark 14:53–65). Even though the witnesses lie, the Sanhedrin cannot find two identical testimonies, required for a capital offense. Jesus provides no defense (Isaiah 53:7). Finally, the high priest asks Jesus directly who He is, and Jesus responds. The council members immediately convict Him of blasphemy.
While Jesus is questioned and beaten, Peter remains near the guards and servants warming themselves by a fire (Mark 14:66–72). Peter is a follower of the man who is arrested and he assaulted a servant who is the friend and relation of the men around him (John 18:10). In his fear, Peter forgets his vow to die for Jesus and instead denies that he ever knew Him (Mark 14:29–31).
Jesus spends the days before His crucifixion as He has spent the previous three years: trying to get the disciples to understand the bigger picture of the Jewish Messiah's role in God's plan for the world. Where other Gospels, especially John, go into more detail, Mark touches on just a few themes that will prepare them for establishing the church: Recognize and honor God's work (Mark 14:3–9). Recognize the enemy, but don't fear him (Mark 14:1–2, 10–11, 17–21, 43–50, 53–65). Value community and communally remember Jesus' work (Mark 14:12–16, 22–25). Lean on God's power, not your own, to remain faithful to Him (Mark 14:26–31, 66–72). And understand that God is a Father, deserving our honesty, our trust, and our obedience (Mark 14:32–42).