What does Mark 14:27 mean?
ESV: And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’
NIV: You will all fall away,' Jesus told them, 'for it is written: ''I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.'
NASB: And Jesus *said to them, 'You will all fall away, because it is written: ‘I WILL STRIKE THE SHEPHERD, AND THE SHEEP WILL BE SCATTERED.’
CSB: Then Jesus said to them, "All of you will fall away, because it is written:I will strike the shepherd,and the sheep will be scattered.
NLT: On the way, Jesus told them, 'All of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, ‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’
KJV: And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.
NKJV: Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered.’
Verse Commentary:
The phrase "fall away" is taken from the Greek root word skandalizo. The word describes the disciples as being led to distrust and even be offended by Jesus. They will morally stumble and ultimately sin. This is the same term used to describe the rocky ground in the parable of the sower: "And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away" (Mark 4:16–17). The disciples have heard Jesus' words and agree with them, but their roots are still too shallow.

The metaphor of the shepherd and sheep is an old one in the Bible, perhaps most famously illustrated in Psalm 23. King David, who had been a shepherd (1 Samuel 17:34), describes himself as a sheep who follows God the shepherd through "the valley of the shadow of death" with no fear or doubt. Conversely, the disciples will see Jesus taken, appearing to their eyes as powerless to stop His torture and cruel death. In fear, they will scatter like sheep when faced with a lion that attacks their shepherd.

The word "scatter" is from the Greek root word diaskorpizo, which means to disperse, but also means to winnow, as grain. In Luke 22:31, Jesus warns Peter that Satan has demanded to sift Peter like wheat. Undoubtedly, Satan means to toss Peter about so that he is separated from Jesus and the other disciples as the chaff, or light husk, is separated from the wheat kernel. Satan succeeds, but only for a time. Peter will deny Jesus (Mark 14:66–72), but after Jesus' resurrection, he will be restored (John 21:15–19).

There is a distinct difference here between the remaining eleven disciples and Judas. The eleven will scatter like sheep, but they will return. Judas is gone for good. If Judas had returned to Jesus and asked for forgiveness, he would have found it. But God chose Judas to betray Jesus knowing Judas would never surrender his own desires. In John 10:1–18, Jesus tells the parable of the good shepherd. He says, "I know my own and my own know me…" (John 10:14). He explains that the sheep know the good shepherd's voice and follow Him. They may scatter for a time, but those who belong to Jesus will always return to Him.

Right now, the disciples are on a high. They have watched Jesus assert authority in the temple (Mark 11:15–19), humiliate the religious leaders with His wisdom (Mark 11:27—12:40), and even find them an empty room in a city with over a hundred thousand visitors (Mark 14:12–16). They still think Jesus is about to reveal His identity as Messiah and rescue the Jews from Roman rule. Abandoning Him in His moment of triumph is the last thought on their minds.
Verse Context:
Mark 14:26–31 occurs as Jesus and the twelve disciples have just had the Passover meal in an upper room in Jerusalem. They are now on the Mount of Olives, where they have stayed every night this week (Luke 21:37). After such an intimate celebration, Jesus warns the disciples they will abandon Him, and Peter, specifically, will deny he knows Him. But Jesus isn't trying to shame the disciples; He's telling them where to meet Him after His resurrection. Jesus' warning is also recorded in Matthew 26:30–35, Luke 22:31–34, and John 13:36–38.
Chapter Summary:
Jesus is anointed in a symbolic anticipation of His death. Judas decides to secretly cooperate with local religious leaders to arrest Jesus in secret. During the Passover meal, Jesus predicts His betrayal by Judas, and Peter's denial. He also institutes the Lord's Supper, also known as communion. After praying on the Mount of Olives, Jesus is captured when Judas identifies Him to a hostile mob sent by Jewish authorities. He endures a corrupt, prejudiced trial, ending in a conviction for blasphemy. Peter, fearing for his life, lies about knowing Jesus, before remembering Jesus' prediction and breaking down in sobs.
Chapter Context:
Jesus has finished His public teaching ministry and now prepares for the crucifixion. His sacrificial loyalty will provide the means by which the disciples' abandonment will be forgiven. Next, the Romans, as representatives of Gentiles throughout history, will join the Jews and kill Jesus. Jesus will be buried, but He will rise again with the promise that His sacrifice will redeem the world. Matthew 26 and Luke 22 follow Mark 14 more closely while John 13:1—18:27 records more of Jesus' teaching in the upper room.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Mark emphasizes both Jesus' servanthood and His role as the promised Messiah: the Son of God. This is done through a concise, action-packed style. Mark provides relatively few details, instead focusing on actions and simple statements. This relates to the Gospel's authorship, which is believed to be based on the memories of the apostle Peter. These include many of Jesus' miracles, in contrast to other Gospels which include many more of Jesus' teachings and parables. Mark also makes frequent mention of Jesus' ministry being misunderstood by others.
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