The King Prepares for His Passion


The King Prepares for His Passion

The King Prepares for His Passion

Mark 14:12-25

Main Idea: Jesus is both the Suffering Servant of the Lord and the Sacrificial Lamb of God, who would die for the sins of the world according to the will of God.

  1. Jesus Was in Control of the Events Leading to His Death (14:12-16).
  2. Jesus Was Not Caught by Surprise by His Betrayal (14:17-21).
  3. Jesus Prepared a Last Supper That Was Actually a First Supper (14:22-25).

In 1906 Albert Schweitzer published his groundbreaking work, The Quest of the Historical Jesus. He believed Jesus saw Himself as a first-century eschatological prophet who believed His ministry would usher in the apocalyptic end of history. Unfortunately, Jesus was mistaken. Things got out of hand, and He was brutally put to death in the process. Schweitzer wrote,

There is silence all around. The Baptist appears, and cries: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Soon after that comes Jesus, and in the knowledge that He is the coming Son of Man lays hold of the wheel of the world to set it moving on that last revolution which is to bring all ordinary history to a close. It refuses to turn, and He throws Himself upon it. Then it does turn; and crushes Him. Instead of bringing in the eschatological conditions, He has destroyed them. The wheel rolls onward, and the mangled body of the one immeasurably great Man, who was strong enough to think of Himself as326 the spiritual ruler of mankind and to bend history to His purpose, is hanging upon it still. That is his victory and His reign. (Beilby and Eddy, Historical, 20)

This perspective, still popular among some liberal and skeptical scholars, fails with a fair and honest reading of the Gospels. There we see our Savior in total control—down to the last detail—as He makes His way to the cross to die for the sins of the world (John 1:29). He will indeed be crushed, not by the “wheel of the world,” but by the will of His Father (Isa 53:10), a will our Lord both understood and embraced. “Jesus is not a tragic hero caught in events beyond his control. There is no hint of desperation, fear, anger, or futility on his part. Jesus does not cower or retreat as plots are hatched against him. He displays, as he has throughout the Gospel, a sovereign freedom and authority to follow a course he has freely chosen in accordance with God’s plan” (Edwards, Mark, 419). Our King knows exactly where He is going and what will happen. Sovereign grace will use even human evil to accomplish its saving purposes. Our Lord will be certain everything goes according to plan.

Jesus Was in Control of the Events Leading to His Death

Mark 14:12-16

“The first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrifice the Passover lamb” (v. 12) was Thursday. The disciples want to know where the memorial meal will take place, that they might make preparation. Jesus provides precise instructions in verses 13-15 (cf. 11:1-6). He sent two disciples into the city. He tells them they will meet a man carrying a jar of water (this was normally something women or slaves would do). They were to follow him to a specific house. They were to tell the master of the house that “the Teacher” wants to know where the guest room is, that He may eat the Passover with His disciples. Jesus informed them that the master would “show [them] a large upper room furnished and ready” (v. 15). That is where they were to make preparation.

Amazingly but not surprisingly, verse 16 records, “the disciples went out, entered the city, and found it just as He had told them.” It is possible Jesus knew the man carrying the water and the master of the house, yet the details suggest His supernatural knowledge of what would happen.

The two disciples did as they were instructed. They also would have prepared the Passover lamb that symbolized their deliverance from slavery and redemption out of Egypt. Little did they know that an even greater Passover was unfolding as Jesus prepared Himself to be sacrificed as our Passover327 Lamb (1 Cor 5:7). John the Baptist had declared, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus is indeed this Passover Lamb, and He is in complete control of the events leading to His death. The cross did not catch Him off guard. No, it was a divine appointment scheduled, as Peter would write, “before the foundation of the world” (1 Pet 1:20). Jesus knew down to the last detail what was happening, and He joyfully embraced it (Heb 12:2). Such confidence in God’s will should inspire us to trust Him even when the road of life may be difficult, painful, even deadly. Our God is in control!

Jesus Was Not Caught by Surprise by His Betrayal

Mark 14:17-21

If Jesus was in complete control of all the events leading up to His death, then He was not surprised by His betrayal. Was He heartbroken and disappointed? Certainly yes—the betrayer was a close and trusted friend. Mark focuses on two events: our Lord’s betrayal (vv. 17-21) and Jesus’ institution of what we call “the Lord’s Supper” (vv. 22-25).

While they are reclining at the table and eating, the normal posture for having a meal in that day, Jesus utters words that must have shocked all and sent a chill through the room: “I assure you: One of you will betray Me—one who is eating with Me.” How He knew this we are never told, but He knew. Psalm 41:9 says, “Even my friend in whom I trusted, one who ate my bread, has raised his heel against me.” Did He draw from that text? Jesus clearly applies that Davidic psalm to this moment.

Our Lord’s words provoke grief and soul searching, as they should. Each of the disciples ask Him, “Surely not I?” But Jesus narrows the list of possible betrayers to the 12 apostles, His most intimate and trusted companions.

Jesus then makes one of the most profound and theologically significant statements in the whole Bible. He says, “For the Son of Man will go just as it is written about Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born” (v. 21). Observe: (1) Jesus, as Daniel’s “Son of Man” (Dan 7:13-14), was predestined to be betrayed and crucified. Once again Jesus weds Daniel’s apocalyptic figure to Isaiah’s “Suffering Servant” (Isa 52:13-53:12; also Ps 22). (2) The one betraying the Lord Jesus was pitied in spite of his unconscionable deed (“woe to that man”). Jesus loved and cared even for Judas. (3) The future judgment for Judas will be so terrible it would have been better “if he had not been born.” Again, we see the truth that “revelation brings responsibility.” (4) Even though Judas’ betrayal was ordained according to328 God’s plan, he is morally responsible for his freewill action. Jesus will be betrayed and crucified according to God’s predetermined will, but this in no way relieved Judas of his responsibility and guilt. In a divine mystery we will never completely comprehend in this life, we embrace the truth and tension that divine sovereignty never cancels out human freedom and moral responsibility. Both are true. We affirm them both.

The answer to each disciple’s question—Is it I?—requires an answer of yes from each and every one of us. Yes, Judas betrayed Jesus, but by morning all the disciples would betray Him. Judas betrayed Him for greed (vv. 10-11), but the rest would betray Him from weakness (vv. 37-42), fear (vv. 50-52), and cowardice (vv. 66-72). But what about you and me? Each one of us is a Judas because every sin against Jesus is a personal act of betrayal. Yet this is where the grace of the gospel shines so bright: even those who betray this great King and glorious Savior can experience immediate and complete forgiveness through simple repentance and confession of sin (1 John 1:9). Godly repentance will grieve over the terrible thing it has done, but then it flees to Jesus who took that sin on Himself at the cross. In grace God forgives, and He provides the strength to move forward in the “family of the forgiven.” What a great family that is! If only Judas had repented of his sin.

Jesus Prepared a Last Supper That Was Actually a First Supper

Mark 14:22-25

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “He who would learn to serve must first learn to think little of himself.” And he quoted Thomas à Kempis as saying, “This is the highest and most profitable lesson, truly to know and despise ourselves” (Bonhoeffer, Life Together, 94). Jesus has already served His disciples on their last night together by washing their feet (John 13:1-20). Now He serves them again as He institutes what we call “the Last Supper” (cf. Matt 26:26-29; Luke 22:18-20; 1 Cor 10:14-22; 11:17-34).

However, we could also refer to it as “the First Supper,” as it inaugurates the “new covenant” (Jer 31:31-34; Luke 22:20), which God made with us through the Lord Jesus, the true Passover Lamb who had been sacrificed for us (1 Cor 5:7). His death made possible a new and greater exodus (see Luke 9:31), as we are set free from our slavery to sin.

The Passover meal was the proper occasion for the Lord’s Supper to be instituted:

It included four points at which the presider, holding a glass of wine, got up and explained the Feast’s meaning. The four cups of wine329 represented the four promises made by God in Exodus 6:6-7. These promises were for rescue from Egypt, for freedom from slavery, for redemption by God’s power, and for a renewed relationship with God. The third cup came at a point when the meal was almost completely eaten (Keller, King’s Cross, 164-65).

This third cup, I believe, is the one in verse 23.

The Passover meal is proceeding as usual when suddenly Jesus departs from the normal script. What He says are the words of a madman unless He is the Son of God and the true Passover Lamb. Breaking the bread and blessing it, He says, “Take it; this is My body.” He takes the cup, blesses it, and “they all drank from it.” Then He says, “This is My blood that establishes the covenant; it is shed for many” (v. 24). The new covenant, like the old covenant, is a “blood covenant.” That it is “shed for many” informs us that the new covenant, promised in Jeremiah 31:31-34, is made possible by the death of Isaiah’s “Suffering Servant of the Lord” who “bore the sins of many and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isa 53:12). Hebrews 8:1-13 speaks of the new covenant in greater detail.

Jesus told His disciples that each time they gathered in the future to celebrate this meal, they were to do it “in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor 11:24). It is almost impossible to overstate how shocking these words are. Sam Storms helps us grasp the massive significance of what Jesus said:

What Jesus requested, indeed commanded, His followers and friends to do subsequent to His death is nothing short of shocking! It’s one thing to desire that your memory be preserved by your loved ones and that they continue to honor and esteem you throughout the remainder of their lives....

But it is altogether something else to command that your friends, family, and followers gather together regularly at a meal not only in your name but with you as the sole and exclusive focus.... Jesus commanded His followers, every time they broke bread together, to make Him the central point of their celebration and to recall and re-tell His life and death.

Were anyone to make this request of me prior to their death, I would probably conclude that the proximity of their demise had afflicted them with delusions of grandeur and megalomania. Yet, this is precisely what Jesus commanded that each of His followers do in memory of Him! (Storms, “Passover Lamb”; emphasis in original).

Jesus brings things to a close by refusing to drink the fourth and final cup. It is the cup of consummation and life in the promised land of God.330 For that cup He will wait. First, He must drink to the last drop the cup of God’s wrath and justice. Apart from it, no cup of blessing would be possible.


In 1991 Christian songwriter and vocalist Twila Paris penned a song to accompany the observance of the Lord’s Supper by the Lord’s people. It has powerful words for reflection and celebration as we consider the King, His supper, and His passion.

How beautiful the hands that served

The wine and the bread and the sons of the earth How beautiful the feet that walked

The long dusty roads and the hill to the cross


How beautiful, how beautiful

How beautiful is the body of Christ

How beautiful the heart that bled

That took all my sin and bore it instead How beautiful the tender eyes

That chose to forgive and never despise


And as He laid down His life We offer this sacrifice

That we will live just as He died Willing to pay the price

Willing to pay the price

How beautiful the radiant bride

Who waits for her groom with His light in her eyes How beautiful when humble hearts give

The fruit of pure lives so that others may live


How beautiful the feet that bring

The sound of good news and the love of the King How beautiful the hands that serve

The wine and the bread and the sons of the earth

Chorus (Paris, “How Beautiful”)

Reflect and Discuss

  1. What is the danger in saying, “Jesus was a good, well-intentioned man who thought He was the Son of God, but He was mistaken”? Couldn’t we still learn from His example?
  2. How does the way Jesus sent the disciples to find the upper room give evidence that Jesus was in charge of the whole situation?
  3. How does Jesus’ control of events surrounding His passion encourage you when you face difficulties?
  4. What might the disciples have thought when Jesus said that one of them would betray Him? Do you think you would have suspected your own heart if you had been there?
  5. How does this passage express the tension between free will and the sovereignty of God?
  6. In what way did all the disciples betray Jesus? In what way has every person betrayed Him and put Him on the cross? How can that betrayal be forgiven?
  7. Why might the Last Supper also be called the First Supper? What did Jesus inaugurate?
  8. Has the Lord’s Supper sometimes become so familiar for you that it is no longer amazing? What did Jesus mean by saying, “This is My body” and “This is My blood”?
  9. How would you like people to remember you after you die? How does this compare with Jesus’ command?
  10. Which lines of the song “How Beautiful” touch you the most? Why?