March 23, 2003


After healing the man with the withered hand in the synagogue in Capernaum, "Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him. But Jesus withdrew with His disciples to the sea. And a great multitude from Galilee followed Him, and from Judea and Jerusalem and Idumea and beyond the Jordan; and those from Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they heard how many things He was doing, came to Him. And He told His disciples that a small boat should be kept ready for Him because of the multitude, lest they should crush Him. For He healed many, so that as many as had afflictions pressed about Him to touch Him. And the unclean spirits whenever they saw Him, fell down before Him and cried out, saying, 'You are the Son of God.' But He sternly warned them that they should not make Him known," (Mark 3:6-12).

These events took place about a year and a half to two years before the crucifixion. Jesus' popularity with the common people was growing rapidly -- and the animosity of His enemies was growing just as rapidly. Normally, the Pharisees and Herodians would scarcely have anything to do with each other, but Mark shows they were now willing to work together against Jesus to destroy Him.

As we have read before and will read again as we continue through our study of the book of Mark, Jesus frequently told those He healed in Jewish cities not to make Him known. It is noteworthy to remember that, in casting out demons, the demons always recognized Jesus' identity as the Son of God -- and again, Jesus forbade them to publicize that fact. The time would come when Jesus would send His disciples out to tell the whole world that He was the Son of God, but the time was not yet right for that truth to be publicly proclaimed.

One reason Jesus did not openly proclaim His Deity immediately was to delay the opposition until He had accomplished His purpose in teaching and training His apostles to carry on His work after He was gone. See such passages as Matthew 16:20-21; 17:9; John 7:6.

A second important reason Jesus withheld His identity from the multitudes for a time is stated by Matthew in his parallel account to our text. Matthew tells us that Jesus thusly fulfilled the prophecy found in Isaiah 42:1-4, "Behold My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles. He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth. He will not fail nor be discouraged till He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands shall wait for His law." See Matthew 12:16-21.

How marvelous that God's prophet was divinely directed to foresee those facts more than seven centuries before Jesus the Christ was ever born.

--Clarence R. Johnson


As the hours were winding down toward Jesus' arrest and trial, He ate with His apostles "the last supper." He informed them that one of them would betray Him, another would deny Him, and all of them would be made to stumble. He privately informed Judas of His awareness of the betrayal and Judas left the gathering. Jesus and the remaining eleven apostles sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives. It was at that time that He foretold Peter's denial, and the wavering of the others.

"Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, 'Sit here while I go and pray over there.' And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, 'My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.' He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, '0 My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will but as You will.' Then He came to the disciples and found them asleep, and said to Peter, 'What, could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.' He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, '0 My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.' And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then He came to His disciples and said to them, 'Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going. See, he who betrays Me is at hand" (Matt. 26:36-46).

After a public ministry of about three and a half years, the Lord had many disciples who had begun to follow Him and learn from Him. Among those disciples, twelve were especially close - those men He had appointed as apostles. And among the twelve apostles, there were three who were perhaps closer to Jesus than the others: Peter, James and John. It was these three closest friends who went the farthest with Jesus as He prayed in Gethsemane.
In His prayer to the heavenly Father, Jesus used the figure of a cup to picture the suffering He was beginning to go through as the crucifixion loomed on the horizon. Jesus dreaded the pain, agony and shame of the cross. If there had been some other way to accomplish Gods will, He would have welcomed it. But note that Jesus' supreme will was to do the will of His Father. What a contrast to the attitude manifested in another garden at the dawn of creation. There Adam and Eve subjugated God's will to their own. Jesus was willing to do God's will above that which seemed needful for His own flesh. God grant that we, too, may learn to seek His will above our own fleshly "needs" and desires.

As the delegation from the chief priests came to the garden of Gethsemane to arrest Jesus, Matthew tells us that "suddenly one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, 'Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twenty thousand legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled that it must happen thus?" (Matt. 26:51-54).

The apostle John, in his account of this incident, identifies the disciple who drew the sword, and supplies additional information not mentioned by Matthew. "Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus" (John 18:10). Luke informs us that Jesus touched Malchus and healed his ear, Luke 22:51.

As Jesus and His inner circle of disciples were leaving the garden of Gethsemane, "Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people... In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, 'Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me. But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.' Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled' (Matt. 26:47, 52-56).

Jesus was (and is) Deity. But He took upon Himself human flesh in order that He might face the same temptations, trials, tribulations and troubles faced by all humanity. He subjected Himself to pain and to death, in order that He could thoroughly identify with our needs and desires, and set a perfect example of obedience to the will of God the Father. And most of all, He came to be the sacrifice for our sins, Phil. 2:5-8; Heb. 2:9; 2 Cor. 5:21.

Repeatedly, Jesus, and afterward His apostles and prophets, underscored the fact that His sacrificial death had been foretold in much detail by the prophets of Old Testament times. No fewer than four times right here in Matt. 26, Jesus insists that His death had been foretold in the Old Testament. In verse 31, He even quoted from Zech. 13:7, ''Awake, 0 Sword, against My Shepherd, against the Man who is My Companion,' says the Lord of hosts. Strike the Shepherd and the sheep will be scattered..."

Two chapters of the Old Testament are especially significant. Isaiah, chapter 53 was written more than 700 years before Jesus was ever born, yet it tells in striking detail of His being rejected by those who considered themselves to be the people of God. It speaks of the sacrificial nature of His death, and even suggests His resurrection from the dead by stating that after He has been put to death, "He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days... Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong" (Isa. 53:10-12).

Also of special interest is the 22nd Psalm, written about 1,000 years before the time when Jesus came to earth. That psalm begins with the precise words Jesus would utter from the cross. It goes on to tell that He would be pierced. It even foretells that His crucifiers would gamble for His clothing, Psa. 22:18. See Matt. 27:35. The psalm goes on to suggest that He was to be saved or delivered -- resurrected from the dead, in order that the Gentiles or nations would turn to Him, and in Psa. 22:26, as a result of what was accomplished by His sacrifice, our hearts can live forever.

--Clarence R. Johnson



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