Monday, September 22, 2014

Betrayals (Mark 14:1-52,66-72)

Chapter 14 of Mark really deals primarily with the betrayals that lead accompany Christ on His route to the cross. From verse 1 to verse 52 there are 10 paragraphs of text, and every even numbered paragraph deals with a betrayal of one form or another. (1,2; 10,11; 17-21;26-31; 43-50)

First, we see the conspiracy from the religious leaders (1,2). After Jesus enters the city, they set about very carefully and in a calculated manner to find a way to murder Him. Their motivation is religious. They see their system under threat. Their power and control is slipping. They no longer see a way to undermine Jesus, He must be done away with. However, they dare not move during the religious festival. Their goal is to remove a threat to their position and culture, not to drive a stronger wedge between them and the people. They want to maintain a kingdom of sorts. “God’s Kingdom” as they have always understood it should be.

Next we see Judas move to betray Jesus (10,11). As one of the disciples, his betrayal is greater than any other. How could he see his way forward to betray the master he has had for the past three years? The key is in the story of Jesus’ anointing (3-9). This event is the straw that broke the camel’s back for Judas, it would seem. Judas was willing to follow Jesus as long as Jesus was meeting his expectations. Judas saw the Kingdom of God as a political, military overthrowing of the current world order. Whereas the religious leaders wanted to maintain the status quo, Judas wanted to destroy it. When Jesus keeps insisting that He is headed to his death, Judas eventually losses hope. He wants a world where justice (in his eyes) is fulfilled. He wants to help the poor and deliver the oppressed. Perhaps he thought his actions would spur Jesus into action, triggering the messianic revolution. Perhaps he had simply given up on Jesus. Either way, he wanted “God’s Kindgom” on his terms.

Jesus is aware of Judas’s intentions (17-21); just as He is aware that all of His disciples are about to panic and fall away (26-31). None of them are capable on their own of doing what is needed. Peter insists that he will never betray Jesus, but we all know how the story goes (66-72). This is something to which we are all prone. Never fall into the trap of believing the lie that you are capable of doing what it takes to be a Kingdom citizen. The point of Peter’s story is to remind us that we all depend on mercy and grace. The very reason we need a savior is our sin; our propensity to betray. We are all enemies of God when the love of Christ finds us. Peter betrayed but repented and was forgiven. If we are redeemed we do well to remember where we were and to never forget that we had much of which we needed to repent.

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