Jesus Betrayed and Arrested
Topic: The Passion Passage: Mark 14:41–14:52
We have been working out way through the gospel of Mark for the past year and as we come to the climax of Mark what we’re going to do is to slow down over the next several weeks and look at the events of the passion at an unhurried pace. So let’s turn together to Mark 14. While we do here’s a quick flyover of what’s going on in this chapter:
• The chapter opens by telling us that the chief priests and scribes are resolved to arrest Jesus and kill him – they just need to find a way to arrest him privately away from the crowds so they don’t start a riot.
• The disciple named Judas goes to the chief priests with an offer to betray Jesus for the right price.
• Jesus and the 12 share the Passover meal together in an upper room and Jesus predicts that one of them will betray him and then he transforms the Passover from a memorial pointing to Israel’s glorious deliverance from Egypt into a memorial pointing to his sacrificial death to deliver us from our sins.
• Then Jesus and the 11 remaining disciples walk out to the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus faces the darkest hour of his life. In the garden of Gethsemane the fierce wind of hell sweeps unbroken over Jesus, and in his agony and distress he cries out to the Father asking Him to remove the cup of our sin and God’s wrath if it is possible. It is a prayer that the Father cannot answer in the affirmative, there is no other way for sinners to be saved, and yet three times Jesus cries out with a loud voice and many tears – until finally he gets up and the inner torment is over. He is calm, and resolved. Let’s pick up in verse 41.
Mark 14:41-52 (pray)
There’s an old routine called “That’s Good, That’s Bad” in which what is good and what’s bad constantly gets flipped. Here’s a portion of how it goes:
Archie: Hey I guess you heard about my terrible misfortune.
Roy: No, what happened?
Archie: My great uncle died.
Roy: Oh that's bad!
Archie: No that's good!
Roy: How's come?
Archie: Well, when he died, he left me 50,000 dollars
Roy: Oh that's good!
Archie: No that's bad! When the Internal Revenue got thru with it, all I had left was 25,000 dollars
Roy: Oh that's bad
Archie: No that's good because I bought me an airplane and learned to fly
Roy: Well that's good
Archie: No that's bad, while I was flying upside down the other day I fell outta the dern thing
Roy: Well that's bad.
Archie: No that's good because when I looked down under me and there was a great big ole haystack.
Roy: Well that's good
Archie: No that's bad, when I got a little closer and I saw a pitchfork aimed right at me
Roy: Well that's bad
Archie: No that's good because I missed the pitchfork
Roy: Well that's good
Archie: No that's bad because I missed the haystack too.
Roy: Well that's bad
Archie: No that's good…
And on it goes, and I think by now we’re beginning to suspect that Archie’s interpretation of what’s good and what’s bad is a little mixed up. If somebody took the time to examine this routine carefully line by line (which you would only do if either you had no life or were thinking about using it in a sermon illustration) – but if you took the time to examine it you’d see that what Archie calls bad on one side he turns around and calls good on the other side and vice versa. What’s good as an effect then becomes bad as a cause. So for instance, buying an airplane is good when it’s the effect of having $25,000 left to him by the IRS, but buying an airplane is bad when it’s the cause of his falling out of it while flying upside down.
It’s a silly routine, but it does point out how in real life, often what seems bad leads to good, and what seems good leads to bad. Our lives have this that’s bad/that’s good thing going on all the time. Theologically we understand from the scriptures that God works all things together for the good (all things aren’t good, but God brings good out of all things) for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. We live in a beautiful world created by a loving God and when He finished, He declared, it was very good. And we live in a fallen world where everything is corrupted by the fall. So our faith is really eyesight to see the good that God is doing when our natural sight can only see the bad in the situation.
This morning, I want us to look at the two bad things that happen in this passage, and the two good things. The bad things are: Jesus is betrayed and Jesus is arrested. And the two good things are: Jesus is betrayed and Jesus is arrested.
I. Jesus is betrayed
1. The betrayal of Jesus is bad
Actually, it’s much worse than bad – it’s evil. Judas was a close disciple, he lived with Jesus, broke bread with Jesus, listened to Jesus teach, and even participated in the healings and deliverances that the disciples performed in the name of Jesus. Judas was a friend of Jesus but he sold that friendship out to Jesus’ enemies for a few pieces of silver. He planned a conspiracy with those who hated Jesus and the sign he chose for betraying Jesus to them was the sign used in that day to show affection and friendship – a kiss. It must have been so hard for Jesus to allow Judas to kiss him knowing that what that kiss pretended to express and what it really meant were polar opposites. It was demonically inspired hypocrisy.
How could Judas do it? How could he go through with it? The Bible tells us that more than once Satan entered his heart. It took the demonic hatred and deception of the devil to keep Judas blind to the evil that he was doing until he had finished his wicked work.
2. The betrayal of Jesus is good
It is bad, wicked, evil, hurtful, deceitful – everything that is bad it was. And yet, God used it for great good and it was through that betrayal that God’s saving plan was executed.
When we take communion we often read from 1 Cor. 11 where Paul is instructing the Corinthian church in how they should take the sacrament of communion. Notice that he says “that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed…” Not the night he was arrested. Not the night he endured a bogus trial at the hands of the religious leaders. No, on the night when he was betrayed. The sacrament of communion, commemorating the breaking of Jesus’ body and the shedding of his blood, will always be associated with his betrayal at the hands of Judas. Why? Why is the betrayal so central to the path Jesus walked to the cross and to the work Jesus accomplished on the cross?
I think it’s because, at its core, sin is always a kind of betrayal of God. Satan was once a great and powerful angel, created by God and loved by God. He had a high and responsible position in God’s kingdom, but pride entered his heart – he wanted the highest position, and he rebelled against God. And when he did, he was betraying his Creator – the One who had lovingly created him, the One who had put everything together that was him. He owed his very being to God, his existence to God – he would have never existed if not for God, but in that moment he betrayed his Creator and became his enemy. When Satan enters Judas’ heart, he’s simply inflaming in Judas what has burned in his heart for thousands of years: a pure and treacherous hatred of God, focused on the Son of God.
Whenever Satan tempts us to sin he is tempting us to commit treason against God. There was an old Sovereign Grace song we used to sing, and verse 2 says, In my heart there is a treason, one that poisons all my love. Take my heart and consecrate it, wash it in Your cleansing blood. Apart from God’s powerful grace working in us, our hearts are poisoned with traitorous impulses – at its core sin is always betrayal of God.
When Jesus hung on the cross, he hung there for betrayers like you and me, to reconcile us back to himself and God as friends. Jesus is the friend who never betrays. Proverbs 18:24 says, A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Ultimately that is Jesus – a friend who sticks closer than a brother, a friend who will never abandon us or betray us.
Do you ever think about what makes a good friend? Sometimes I think that true, deep, and lasting friendship can be an elusive thing to find. In the recent SGM crisis, Matt and I have seen some relationships that we thought were really deep friendships erode and it’s a sad thing to watch. Some people measure friendship by how deep they can go with conversation – talking about very personal things, sharing intimate details, maybe trusting secrets with one another. Others measure friendship by how lofty their conversations can soar – debating high concepts of truth and philosophy and theology and politics – these are the things that some treasure in their friendships. Others measure friendships by how comfortable they are with someone and others by how much they have in common. Is it laughing together? Crying together? What is it that makes a good friend?
All these things I mentioned are good things and helpful, but in the end, having someone stick with you through thick and thin is maybe the most important ingredient. Loyalty is a kind of anti-betrayal characteristic and it’s vital if a friendship is going to stand the test of time. Jesus is that to us. There isn’t a betraying bone in Jesus’ body – and he came to give his life on a bloody cross for treasonous, betrayers like us –so that we could be changed from the inside out and have hearts that also will be faithful and true until the end. The grace of God works in us to give us hearts that hold fast to our confession of faith in Christ even to death. That kind of faithfulness doesn’t originate in our hearts – it’s the work of grace.
Look at the compassionate way Jesus responds to Judas when he comes to betray him with a kiss. As painful and hypocritical as that moment was, as deep as it must have grieved and offended Jesus, by looking at the four gospels we get a fuller idea of Jesus’ response to Judas:
Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss? Friend, do what you came to do. (Luke 22:48, Matt 26:50)
Even in the face of demonic betrayal, Jesus was kind to Judas. These words were designed to give Judas yet another chance to repent, to turn, to change his mind. Even then Jesus would have forgiven him. In the same way that Jesus handing Judas a piece of bread in a sign of friendship so burned in Judas’ heart that he had to leave the upper room and Satan entered his heart, so here Jesus’ kindness must have pierced Judas’ heart – and even though he wouldn’t repent, he could have.
Jesus was called the friend of sinners and he still is just that: the friend of sinners and no name was ever more true or more essential to us. He has always been king of heaven and God and Almighty. But he proved himself the friend of sinners when he came to earth as a man to die for poor, lost, betraying sinners.
II. Jesus is arrested
1. The arrest of Jesus is bad
As soon as Judas kisses Jesus, a mob sent by the religious leaders, armed with swords and clubs come out of hiding to arrest Jesus in the night. They are afraid to arrest Jesus in an open and legitimate way – that’s why Jesus says, “have you come out as against a robber…Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching and you did not seize me…”(vv. 48-49) The arrest was done in the cover of night because they knew that there was nothing legitimate about it. As Jesus says to the mob in Luke, “…this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” It is a dark and unjust conspiracy fueled by hell itself.
2. The arrest of Jesus is good
But after questioning why they come out in the night with swords and clubs, after questioning why they are doing this under the cover of night, Jesus goes on to add, “But let the scriptures be fulfilled.” The penultimate cause of all this is God. Satan is responsible for the evil he does, Judas is responsible for choosing to betray Jesus, the mob is responsible for choosing to come out against Jesus in this cowardly way – yet above and beyond all that, the sovereign hand of God is guiding all that is happening towards the cross and His loving plan of salvation.
Jesus could have called out 12 legions of angels to save them – that’s 6000 angels per disciple – but he would not fight, for it was his Father’s will and it was good.
As we close, it is an important lesson to remember: God often redeems the bad for very good. Faith looks at the circumstances and doesn’t deny the bad, but refuses to believe that it will be the last word. Because Jesus was betrayed and arrested and condemned to death for our sins, with our last dying breath we can say, it is well with my soul. The last word, even death isn’t “that’s bad”, it’s “no, that’s good. Because Christ is my Savior and I belong to him forever and nothing can break that bond. Let’s stand and sing.
The final scene in the arrest account is this strange postscript: And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, 52 but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.
It’s an irrelevant, even awkward, detail, one not included in any other gospel. Why did Mark include it? Many scholars believe that this young man was Mark himself. In fact, many believe that the upper room was Mark’s house. We know from Acts 12 that the disciples met in Mark’s house then.
If this is the case, then it’s important to Mark because he was there, it happened in front of him, it happened to him. He experienced it! And the power of the Spirit would turn his fear into fearless boldness in the book of Acts. If the story ended with this verse, it would be bad. But it doesn't end here. It goes on, and God brings great good to and through Mark's life and the disciples. And so it is with us. If your story ended right now, it might seem bad. But it doesn't end now, God has more and He is good at redeeming what is bad and making what is good from it.
As we leave here this morning, may this not just be stuff we believe in our heads, but may we experience the work of God, the grace of God, the power of the Holy Spirit and the unbreakable friendship of Jesus for ourselves. May our hearts experience the grace of Christ that turns fear into fearlessness, discouragement into perseverance, weakness into strength, and betraying hearts into steadfastly loyal hearts.
May we go in the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
More in Gospel of Mark
March 31, 2013Shock and Awe at the Empty Tomb
March 31, 2013Shock and Awe at the Empty Tomb
March 24, 2013A Glorious View from the Mt Everest of Our Redemption