Reading Mark Together – Chapter 14 Betrayal and Denial

In Mark 14 we have Jesus at the start of the last week of his life earthly. He is anointed in what must have been a very emotional and moving way for him. We then have one of those connections in Scripture that we often look past. Then ….. Then Judas Iscariot went to find a way to betray Jesus. What was it about this last event that wound Judas up so much that he took this step? This was not the only event that led Judas on his path, but it was the final event that led to betrayal, so what was it about this woman and Jesus acceptance of her?

We don’t have an answer in the passage so we can only suppose. Was it the waste of money and extravagance on Jesus – the poor were in more need? Was it that Jesus has received this ministry from a woman – in Jewish society of the time they came a long way behind the men? Was it the statement of Jesus afterwards about being anointed for burial?

We don’t know what it was, but it is likely that this last step to betrayal had started with a  small seed many weeks or months before. This seed was not good seed planted by the sower but thorns planted by the enemy. The mistake that Judas made was in not recognising and uprooting the thorns when they were planted.

We may look at Judas and say we would never have done that, but all of us have the possibilities for turning our backs on Jesus and betraying him. We need to make sure that we recognise the seed and where it has come from and uproot the thorns of rebellion, denial and betrayal as soon as they are planted.

But Judas wasn’t the only one to turn his back on Jesus, Peter did too. I think that sometimes Peter gets bad press. When you look at the situation he walked into the hornets nest, and out of the 12 close disciples and the 72 other disciples, or followers Peter was the only one who had the guts to follow Jesus to try to see what was happening and perhaps to find the opportunity to express his love for Jesus in freeing him. All the rest had retreated to a safe distance. But that still does not mitigate or excuse Peter’s denial of Jesus. But before we get too critical let’s ask ourselves how many times we have failed to stick up for Jesus, how many times when we have been asked about the values and priorities in our lives we have failed to state our love for Jesus and in doing so have denied him.

In Peter’s denial is a reflection of the reality which many of us know. We too have denied Jesus, either overtly as Peter did when asked if we follow him, or by omission, by failing to stand up for him when we should do. So Peter begins to weep. Having stated that he would follow Jesus to death, he has denied Jesus and he now knows that and is heartbroken about it. Peter lives with that pain through the coming days until he is restored lovingly and wonderfully by Jesus himself.

Reflect on times when you have not stood up for Jesus in the way you would want to. What was there in you, or in the situation that prevented you from saying that you were a follower of Jesus? Ask God to forgive you for those times, and to empower you in his Spirit so that next time you will speak and stand for his love and life.

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