Mark 14: 32-72

RB  It is affecting to see the Lord in Gethsemane with all the pressure that bore in on His spirit.  That would be anticipative of what the will of His Father would involve for Him; so He utters the expression, “My soul is full of grief even unto death”.  Then He felt it that these three disciples were with Him but were unable to watch.  Three times He comes to them; it is easy to think about how the disciples were unable for this, but I have to recognise that, in my own heart, I have not thought sufficiently of what the Lord went through in Gethsemane, the sorrows that bore in on Him.  There is depth to be added to the soul as we consider the way that, as the perfect Man, He addresses His Father and brings out what the will of the Father would entail in taking the cup from His Father’s hand.  Then we have the section as to Judas and what that involved.

         There is a majesty about verse 42 and the Lord’s words, “Arise, let us go”.  He moves forward of His own volition, aware of what was about to transpire, but was not deterred or turned aside by it.  And then there were the false witnesses that were brought against Him and the suffering from the hands of man, which we have in verse 65, and Peter’s betrayal.  Peter learned from this, and we get the benefit of it and the fruit of it in his epistles. 

         Mr James Taylor said that this was ‘the greatest battle ever fought’, vol 17 p227.  It adds tone to our worship: as we experience the heights of what the service of God involves, it all depended on this, that the Lord Jesus went this way and took from His Father’s hand all that His will entailed.  It was referred to in thanksgiving in Hymn 330 -

         Great the cost to Thee, blest Father.

We think of that in connection with the cross, but we see something of that in this section as to Gethsemane too, would you say? 

AW  Yes.  As you were speaking, I was thinking of the first hymn we had -

         Thou Lord to death’s domain

                  Didst go alone.  (Hymn 152)

I wonder if we see that throughout this section; everybody else failed or was unable for it; so the Lord Jesus in His prayer was alone, but He went through it all to fulfil what was before Him.

RB  No one else could have gone this way.  Only He could take on what the divine will involved and carry it out in its fulness and in perfection.  Those He took with Him were no comfort to Him here; so, in that sense, He was alone.  In Gethsemane, He would anticipate the time when He would be forsaken of God and be truly alone.  Here, of course, He is in communion with His Father, but He is going through all that the cross and being made sin would involve, and that bears on His spirit and causes Him to be “amazed and oppressed in spirit” or, as the note says, ‘deeply depressed’.  Think of the Lord Jesus in manhood suffering to that extent in His spirit.  He was to suffer in His body; He was to suffer in actuality from His God; but it seems that the whole thing is borne in His spirit in this setting and that alone, between Himself and His Father.

JAB  How privileged we are to have this insight; we should be affected by it.  I felt as I read it this morning that we need to be freshly affected by it despite the words themselves being so familiar.  What a privilege it is that the Holy Spirit thought it right through the pen of Mark and some of the other gospel writers to tell us about these sufferings of the Lord Jesus in anticipation.  It gives us a very blessed insight into the feelings of divine Persons.  The account of the crucifixion in each of the gospels is brief; so we have to go to the Old Testament, to the offerings, to fill out what it meant.  But here we get an insight into the feelings of the Lord Jesus and of the Father too.

RB  It is to have an effect on our own spirits so that these feelings should be reproduced in us, although clearly there is what is unique to the Lord Jesus.  He entered into this in a way that we could never do because only He could perfectly measure what sin had brought in, what was involved in taking it away, and He knew, speaking carefully, what the taking away of sin would involve.  We can be sobered in reflecting what it was to Him: that should weigh with us.

JAB  Yes.  Another New Testament scripture that opens up a little of the Lord’s feelings in relation to what was before Him is John 12, when He says to the Father, “Now is my soul troubled, and what shall I say?  Father, save me from this hour.  But on account of this have I come to this hour.  Father, glorify thy name.  There came therefore a voice out of heaven, I both have glorified and will glorify it again”, v 27, 28.  There was no voice out of heaven here, and yet, despite the Lord’s anticipation of the awfulness of what would happen to Him on the cross, His obedience to the Father was unchanged: “not what I will, but what thou wilt”.

RB  It is affecting to see the Lord Jesus sustained in prayer in regard to that, each time He prays.  He prays here as the dependent Man in circumstances facing something that no other man had ever faced before but He faced this with His Father.  The forsaking by God lay ahead, but the Lord goes through this in communion - as a dependent Man. 

JAB  And that communion was unbroken all through His suffering at the hands of men, right to the point at which He was forsaken, after He had been on the cross for three hours.  It is wonderful to think of what the Father was to Him until that awful time.

RB  Again to refer to the line of Hymn 330:

         Great the cost to Thee, blest Father.

As the Lord went through this and prayed and was feeling what was bearing on His spirit, it was shared with His Father.  The cost to the Father would come out, but so too does the pleasure of the Father.  This expression “Abba, Father” shows the closeness of affection which was maintained all through this.

PAG  Does this help us in our understanding of what the offerings actually mean as types?  They are there as instruction for us, but this is the reality of the matter.  One aspect of the burnt-offering was its inwards, Lev 1: 9.  I know the thought of the burnt-offering goes on to death itself but the inwards are before us here, and we can see that the burnt-offering is exclusively for God.  There was something even in this time of suffering that was exclusively for God.  And then the oblation: one of its features is what was baked in the oven, chap 2: 4.  It is the most refined of the references to the oblation; it speaks of inward pressure.  And then there is no leaven - nothing to minister to the will of man: “not what I will”, the Lord says - and there is no honey, nothing to minister to the comfort of man, v 11.  This cup was taken in full; it was not mitigated.  These aspects of the offerings come out in their present reality as the Lord suffers.

RB  That is very instructive and helpful.  There is so much compressed into this section, so many scriptures would bear on it, both in terms of what you have said and the expressions in the Psalms and elsewhere.  The type of the oblation baked in the oven is particularly precious here.  It was something that only God could take account of, in that sense.  It was not a public matter; it was confined and almost condensed. 

PAG  The word that is sometimes used in ministry in relation to these sufferings is the thought of compression.  There is the thought of the winepress and what flows from that, but what you say is right: there is a concentration of suffering that only the Lord Himself could bear.  What was for God comes first in what has been said as to the hymn,

         Great the cost to Thee, blest Father,

but another of the blessings of the oblation was that the remainder should be for the priests, v 10.  There is some aspect of this in which we can participate, which we could not in relation to the atoning sufferings, for example.

RB  It is helpful to make that distinction, and the fact that the Lord took these three disciples would itself indicate what you say.  There is something to be taken account of, even though they were unable for it; nevertheless the Lord had something in mind in that, as He does for us.

AMB  It all brings out the perfection of the Servant.  God had that in mind in giving instruction as to the offerings, and really the perfection of the Servant was being put to the test, but was also being demonstrated fully.  The Lord was tested in every way, and so it was the flawless One who went to the cross having been tested.  What happened here exposes man.  The disciples were exposed, but the Lord was perfect in it all.  Nor does He avoid it.  He was seen in complete obedience to the Father’s will;  it is perfection in obedience.

RB  That is fine.  The Lord did not seek to do anything except to move forward in accordance with the will of the Father.  We must understand that in relation to what it says in verse 36; He was not trying to avoid what the Father’s will entailed but really submitting Himself in the perfection of His manhood.

AMB  Yes; it would not have been perfect manhood if He had not said this, if He had not “prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass away from him”, and then, “Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee: take away this cup from me”.  That was uttered by a perfect Man who felt so keenly what was about to come upon Him, and then He adds, “but not what I will, but what thou wilt”.

RB  In the holiness of His manhood He shrank from what the will of God necessarily entailed.  The matter of sin is something that He recoiled from.  And that itself further emphasises His perfection in moving forward in the way He does.

DEW  Why did He pray more than once?

RB  It gives us an insight into the perfection of the dependent Man and the need that He felt to pray in this way.  It would give us an insight into the pressure that He felt which could only really be addressed to His Father in feeling all the pressure that was upon Him. 

PAG  Peter and James and John faced the test three times and were unequal to it, and then Peter himself at the end of the chapter faced a test three times and was unequal to it.  The Lord faced it three times and He was equal to it in the perfection of His manhood.

RB  That is fine; so while we are not able to enter into this to the extent that the Lord Jesus did, is there a sense in which there is a pattern in the way He prays when faced with a matter such as this?

PAG  Yes, and it shows that it is possible for at least something of this to be worked out morally in believers.  Paul besought three times that certain matters should be removed, and the word he got in the end was, “My grace suffices thee”, 2 Cor 12: 9.  The Lord besought three times, and really the answer was that the Father’s will was sufficient for Him.  He did not need anything else.

RB  As a result of praying three times and proving the Father in it, He could move out of Gethsemane in peace; the matter was concluded in that sense.  The actuality awaited Him, but really the conflict and the battle had been won.

DS  There is great instruction in this for us as to what was said about Peter, James and John going with Him.  The Lord speaks as to grief in verse 34: “My soul is full of grief even unto death; abide here and watch”.  And later on He says to Peter, “Watch and pray”.  He was the only One who was able to take this matter on.  There was something of the great Servant, something we are to understand of His commitment to the will of the Father.  We need to take account of the greatness of the sufferings of the Lord in His spirit.  The Lord was a real Man and He felt sin like none other.

RB  The Lord was and is a real Man and He faced these trials as a Man.  He did not, speaking carefully and reverently, rely upon His divinity or who He was as God to mitigate anything that the will of the Father entailed.  It was all borne as a Man in perfection, with all the weight that that involved, and yet it is touching that He does go back to the disciples.  It is not that He brings them into Gethsemane and leave them, speaking carefully, and go through with the oppression in spirit.  He comes back twice to speak to them and lay something on their spirits of what this would entail.

DS  It goes on later, “the Son of man is delivered up into the hands of sinners”.  The Son of man is the Lord on man’s side; so although He is going through it like none other, He is instructing us that we should commit ourselves in this manner.  If we seek to do it as true servants and commit it into the hands of our God and Father, He is able to guide and keep us.

RB  That is fine; so, in taking up this book, the exercise was to see the Lord as the perfect Servant and to see what He has in mind for those of us who seek to follow in His steps.  Peter and James and John were very privileged but very challenged too.  They were there at the raising of the damsel (chap 5: 41); they were there at the mount of transfiguration (chap 9: 2); and they are here in Gethsemane.  Think of what these experiences involved by way of instruction and learning and what has come down to us as opened out to them in these settings.  But here there is something very deep to be learned.  The suggestion from Peter’s epistle is that he learned it.  The challenge would be what do I know of this, and what can I not just say about it, but what can I enter into of what the sorrow and suffering of the Lord Jesus involved?

AMB  We have referred to the eating of the offerings.  This is the portion of believers as priests.  We need to eat that as taking it in and making the blessed perfections of the Lord part of ourselves; that is contemplation.  As eating, we would take it into our inwards; that is to affect us.

RB  Yes.  There is something that will never be formed in a believer unless this is gone through prayerfully and contemplatively. You referred this morning in thanksgiving to worshipping “in spirit and truth”, John 4: 24.  What Paul says about the moral teaching that we find in verses like these cannot be taken on and reproduced without entering in some way into the depth of exercise that this involved for the Lord. 

AMB  Yes.  It relates to what is inward.  We can “Have an outline of sound words” (2 Tim 1: 13), and we would be helped to see what is actually happening in this chapter and what the Lord was suffering, but the formation is the result of what is inward.  It is dwelling on the perfection of that blessed Man, His perfection being proved.  The Lord made sure that the three disciples were there; it was a test for them that they could not pass, but they were affected by it.  The benefit came out no doubt in the early church and is available to us.

JAB  I was thinking about how we should apply this morally to ourselves.  When the Lord was tested in the wilderness at the beginning of His pathway, the devil could not succeed; “the devil, having completed every temptation, departed from him for a time”, Luke 4: 13.  It has often been said that this testing in Gethsemane was the end of that season; this was the enemy coming back.  Satan tried at the beginning of the Lord’s public service, and here at the end of it, to deflect Him from the pathway of obedience to His Father.  The enemy tries to do that with us too, although the significance of what is recorded here is unique, but the principle is the same.  Is that one way we have to learn from this?  If we are committed to the Lord Jesus, to learning more of the Father’s thoughts and to the testimony, the enemy will try to divert us.  Here we see how obedience is the answer to the enemy’s attempts to divert us, for he will always do it. We might not realise he is doing it, but it is a great comfort to see that we have in our Lord Jesus One who can help us not to be diverted because He has gone through it.

RB  The way He faced this was in obedience and dependence and prayer; so we are not without resource when we are tempted.  Often I fail to make use of the resource which is available, but the Lord Jesus never failed, never could fail.

AMW  These feelings of the Lord would be looked on by man as weakness.  “He began to be amazed and oppressed in spirit”: note ‘f’ says, ‘or ‘deeply depressed’’.  Some of these things are looked on as weakness in men’s eyes, but does this bring out what we have been saying about the perfection of the Lord, and how He felt these things.  It was His love for His Father that kept Him in this pathway of dependence, do you think?

RB  We referred in an earlier reading to Isaiah 42, “Behold my servant whom I uphold, mine elect in whom my soul delighteth!”, v 1.  There is a sense in which the Servant is being upheld here and the Father’s choice justified and vindicated.  We need to be affected by this and also affected by what the Father found in the perfection of the Lord Jesus.  Everything that He looked for in man was found in Him.  Things that no other man could express or even feel were felt perfectly by Christ as God Himself would feel them.  I have had an impression of the pleasure that that would afford to heaven and to the Father. 

AMW  Someone referred in thanksgiving to the pleasure the Lord Jesus brought to the Father, Chief to His heart.  He should be Chief to our hearts!

RB  What you say is affecting.  The Lord was “amazed and oppressed in spirit” but, having faced this matter in the way that He did, He said, “It is enough; the hour is come”.  The matter is completed: there was no sense that the enormity of what He was undertaking hindered Him in His forward steps and all that the Father’s will involved. 

IS  I am affected by what is being said.  “Arise, let us go”: there is a conclusion to this matter which is wonderful to see.  I was thinking that in Luke’s gospel, there was an angel strengthening Him when He was in conflict, chap 22: 43, 44.  We have here, “Arise, let us go”.  There is a conclusion; He found strength in His God and Father; there is no more conflict of this kind.

RB  That is very good.  You think of the terrible things that transpired in the next section in relation to Judas, and how the Lord felt that as a Man, but He faced that in the full assurance that the matter was concluded.  As you say, “Arise, let us go”; He was always ready for what awaited Him but as having felt this and gone through it in perfection, there is a readiness to move forward in the will of His Father.

JAB  Would it be right to think in the light of what has been said that the Lord in His majesty was in control: “Arise, let us go”?  The next section shows a very different scene: “they led away Jesus to the high priest”.  It says elsewhere that they bound Him (chap 15: 1), and they bound a crown of thorns on Him, v 17.  He was still in control, because it was the Father’s will that He should be taken by wicked hands, but we have to look beneath the surface to see the glory of Christ submitting to what these men with their swords and sticks were doing, and all that happened there.  He was going on in His pathway of obedience; His enemies just did not realise it.

RB  “They led away Jesus”: that involved the Lord’s submission to what the hands of men were going to mete out.  In another gospel when they came forward, He said, “I am he” and “they went away backward and fell to the ground” (John 18: 6), but we do not get that here.  The perfection of the Servant, in that sense, seems to predominate in this gospel.

JAB  You can see that in this section.  We can go to the Old Testament and see what the Lord felt about it.  He speaks prophetically about “mine own familiar friend”, Ps 41: 9.  He speaks about the pains of betrayal; these were all felt by the Lord Jesus.  It is not spoken of here; so we need to bring Old Testament scriptures into this.

RB  There is a very affecting section,

         For it is not an enemy that

              hath reproached me –

                   then could I have borne it…

         But it was thou, a man mine equal,

              mine intimate, my familiar friend …,

                            Ps 55: 12, 13. 

How the Lord felt that it was one, as the Scripture goes on to say, with whom He had enjoyed things in His pathway here that delivered Him up.  What an intensity of suffering that would involve, but nothing compared to what He had gone through in Gethsemane.

DS  The Lord speaks here in relation to His Person.  That impression comes out in some of the other gospels.  It says elsewhere, “he answered him not so much as one word”, Matt 27: 14.  In this gospel it says, “But he was silent, and answered nothing”, but then later on it says, “Again the high priest asked him, and says to him, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?  And Jesus said, “am”.   The other gospels likewise speak of Him being silent and opening not His mouth bringing out who He is in His Person.

RB  There is something that needed to be answered here, and the Lord makes this statement.

AMB  In Matthew it is the word of adjuration.  “And the high priest answering said to him, I adjure thee by the living God that thou tell us if thou art the Christ the Son of God.  Jesus says to him, Thou hast said”, Matt 26: 63, 64.  I think what the high priest says here, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Blessed” is an adjuration, and He answered truthfully.  What a testimony was presented in the face of such malice and hatred, a testimony to the truth; there was no denying it.  It brings out the hatred of the Jewish system.  Jesus does not defend Himself, He does not seek mitigation, and He does not offer any response to the accusations.  He confirms what was the truth as to Himself.

DS  That is very helpful.  If the truth of who He is was challenged, He answered; but against these false accusations, He remains silent.  Speaking of Him prophetically, Isaiah says, “he was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and was as a sheep dumb before her shearers, and he opened not his mouth”, chap 53: 7. 

AW  We have already referred to Luke: “an angel appeared to him from heaven strengthening him” (chap 22: 43), but I wondered if each one of us needs to see the strength and power in the Person of the Lord here over against the weakness of man.  They were not able to sustain their watching, and then later on Peter fails.  I think it emphasises the power and strength of the Lord Himself.

RB  A great crowd came to take Him “with swords and sticks”.  These were expressions of man’s power, but nothing availed against the Lord’s glory.  The Lord Jesus as here in manhood healed the bondman of the high priest as we know from another gospel (Luke 22: 51) and here He says, “Are ye come out as against a robber, with swords and sticks to take me?”.  You see the futility of man’s mind and how the Lord Jesus was in control even in answering them in this way.

PAG  We mentioned the temptations at the beginning of the Lord’s path of service.  Do you think that in these, God received testimony that His Servant is perfect, but in this setting the enemy’s attack brings out the public testimony that God’s Servant is perfect?

RB  Yes, even though there is apparently nobody responding to that public demonstration of the perfection of Christ, there is a sense in which God is justified even in that.

PAG  Yes.  In the temptations, we have been taught that He was tested as Man, as Son of man, and as Son of God.  That all comes in here.  As Man, He is before His Father, “but not what I will, but what thou wilt”.  But then it is the Son of man being delivered up into the hands of sinners.  He goes that way on our behalf.  And then He could have avoided suffering by not accepting or not linking on with what the high priest said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”.  His place as Son of God brought Him suffering, but He did not avoid it.  He accepted it all, and God was justified.  There was nobody responding to Him then, but we are responding to Him now.  The blessing of this testimony is that it has lasted for two thousand years.

RB  That is fine and has given tone in that sense to the present testimony which is all centred in this blessed and glorious Man.


12th September 2021


Key to Initials:-

(all Linlithgow unless noted):-

A M Brown; R Brown; J A Brown; P A Gray; D Spinks, Bo’ness; I Spinks, Bo’ness; A M Walkinshaw; D E Walkinshaw;
A Wraighte