The King Who Suffers Alone


The King Who Suffers Alone

The King Who Suffers Alone

Mark 14:26-52

Main Idea: Jesus is the righteous King who endured betrayal and shame for the sake of sinners.

  1. The King Would Be Abandoned and Left Alone (14:26-31).
  2. The King Would Agonize over His Passion Alone (14:32-42).
  3. The King Would Be Arrested and Forsaken Alone (14:43-52).

Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath that we might drink the cup of salvation (Ps 116:13). Jesus submitted Himself in the garden of Gethsemane that He might save sinners on the cross. Jesus is the King who suffers alone for His people.

Jesus has celebrated Passover with the disciples and in so doing instituted the “Lord’s Supper,” a memorial that pictures His bloody atonement332 and anticipates the coming of the kingdom of God in all its glory. The evening, however, has a dark cloud hanging overhead: one of His closest friends will betray Him. Jesus will suffer at the hands of His enemies who have been plotting His death for some time (Mark 3:6). He also will suffer at the betrayal of His friends who fail Him in His hour of need (14:37, 40-41), sell Him out (vv. 44-45), abandon Him (v. 50), and deny Him (vv. 66-72). And He will suffer at the hands of His Father, whose will it was that He should drink the cup of divine wrath that each of us should have drunk (vv. 35-36, 39). Yes, to the amazement of angels and the wonder of sinners saved by grace, “the Lord was pleased to crush Him severely” (Isa 53:10). It was the will of the Father to kill His beloved Son (Mark 1:11; 9:7) so that He would not have to kill you and me.

The suffering of this great King is multifaceted: personal, physical, mental, and most of all, spiritual. Jesus saw His loving Father’s hand in it all. He trusted Him in His most trying hour, an hour our finite human minds can never fully comprehend. Our text highlights three aspects of the solitary suffering of the Savior King.

The King Would Be Abandoned and Left Alone

Mark 14:26-31

As they finished the Passover dinner, the Lord and His disciples probably sang one of the final Hallel psalms (Pss 115-118) and then “went out to the Mount of Olives.” On the way Jesus again shakes up the Twelve. He tells them that not only will one of them (Judas) betray Him, but also they “will all fall away.” This prediction is grounded in the Old Testament prophecy of Zechariah: “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered” (Zech 13:7). This prophecy referred to the “martyrdom of the eschatological prophet” (Edwards, Mark, 428). The Father will strike His Son, the Good Shepherd (John 10). His suffering and death is divinely ordained and sanctioned. Using the evil intentions and actions of sinful men, God will work the greatest possible good in saving sinners. The disciples will scatter like frightened mice, but hope will not be lost. Jesus assured them, “After I have been resurrected, I will go ahead of you to Galilee” (14:28). Where He first called them, there He will meet them again. There He will return, reclaim, and recommission them for the work of taking the gospel to the nations.

Proverbs 16:18 painfully reminds us, “Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall.” We often forget these words and suffer the consequences. Peter joins us: hearing Jesus predict their defection, he steps up and with arrogance and bravado announces, “Even if everyone runs333 away, I will certainly not!” (Mark 14:29). Wow, what a declaration of fidelity! But in making this bold pronouncement, Peter, in essence, calls Jesus a liar. Jesus says they will fall away. Peter responds, “No I won’t!” Our Lord responds, and though His words contain a rebuke, I cannot help but imagine they were delivered with compassion and kindness: “I assure you ... today, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” You would think our Lord’s words would silence Peter, but not so. In fact he raises the stakes: “If I have to die with You, I will never deny You!” (v. 31). Apparently the rest of the disciples got caught up in this frenzy of loyalty because “they all said the same.”

All of us would like to think we would have succeeded where Peter and the disciples failed. We would also hope to exhibit greater humility and a more controlled tongue! But if we are honest, we probably would have said the same thing and acted the same way. But we would also be the recipients of our Savior’s gracious forgiveness and restoration. Jesus accepted that He would be abandoned and left alone so that you and I would never be abandoned or left alone. Hebrews 13:5 rings more precious than ever: “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

The King Would Agonize over His Passion Alone

Mark 14:32-42

These verses constitute sacred, holy ground. We will never know the depths of agony and pain our Savior endured that night alone for love of sinners like us. Jesus takes the disciples to a place called Gethsemane. He would often go there with the disciples, probably to pray. He told the disciples to “sit here while I pray.” This is the third and final time Mark records our Lord praying alone (cf. 1:35; 6:46). Each occasion was a time of significant importance, but none more than this one.

Jesus was “deeply distressed and horrified” (v. 33). James Edwards says, “‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death’ echoes the haunting lament of the downcast and dejected soul of Pss. 42:6, 12 and 43:5.” Yet, “Nothing in all the Bible compares to Jesus’ agony and anguish in Gethsemane—neither the laments of the Psalms, nor the broken heart of Abraham as he prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac (Gen 22:5), nor David’s grief at the death of his son Absalom (2 Sam 18:33)” (Edwards, Mark, 432).

Jesus asked Peter, James, and John to stay and watch (v. 34). Sadly they will stay and sleep (vv. 37, 40-41). He left them and went a little farther away, fell to the ground under the massive burden He was carrying, and asked His Father that “if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him” (v. 35). The334 intensity and intimacy of the request is staggering: “Abba, Father! All things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” He would pray the same prayer again (Matt 26:44 informs us He prayed it a third time as well).

In spite of the exceptional trauma of the moment and the certain future that lay ahead, He trusted in God as His loving Father and in His will. What’s more, the “cup” that He prayed might be removed was not the physical pain He would endure on the cross. Indeed many Christian martyrs have gone to their death with thanksgiving and joy with no evidence whatsoever that they wished to avoid the hour of their martyrdom. No, the cup that so distressed and troubled Him was the spiritual suffering He would endure as He would bear the sins of the world and drink to the last drop the fierce wrath of God as our substitute. Tim Keller says,

In the garden of Gethsemane, he turns to the Father and all he can see before him is wrath, the abyss, the chasm, the nothingness of the cup.... Jesus began to experience the spiritual, cosmic, infinite disintegration that would happen when he became separated from his Father on the cross. Jesus began to experience merely a foretaste of that, and he staggered. (Keller, King’s Cross, 176)

The anguish and pain of the cross was not what concerned His soul. It was knowing that He would be abandoned by and separated from His Father as He answered “for every sin and crime and act of malice and injury and cowardice and evil in the world.” That is what brought Him to His knees and moved Him to make His poignant plea (Edwards, Mark, 433).

As Jesus struggles for the souls of men, His closest friends sleep soundly some distance away. The tone of our Lord’s chastening was, no doubt, mild and full of grace. He encourages them to be watchful and prayerful. Temptation is always lurking nearby, and redeemed spirits are still attached to sinful flesh. The flesh’s weakness actually acts with great power to take us where we do not want to go. Jesus knew they wanted to be strong for Him. He also knew they would fail.

Jesus has agonized over His passion, and He has done it alone. He wakens them: “Enough! The time has come.” The issue is settled! Jesus’ will and His Father’s are united! For the joy that is set before Him, He will endure the cross and all that it entails (Heb 12:2).

Gethsemane was “hell” for Jesus, but I am so thankful He went through it. You see, if there is no Gethsemane, there is no Calvary. It there is no Calvary, there can be no empty tomb. And if there is no empty tomb, there is only hell for us.

The King Would Be Arrested and Forsaken Alone


Mark 14:43-52

While Jesus is talking, Judas, “one of the Twelve,” comes with an armed crowd from the Sanhedrin—the “temple police,” though they may have been accompanied by Roman soldiers (cf. John 18:3, 12). By prearranged plan, Judas gives Jesus a greeting of respect and plants kisses of betrayal and death on His cheek, identifying clearly the One they came to arrest. The religious Gestapo springs into action: “Then they took hold of Him and arrested Him” (v. 46). No charges were made. Following legal protocol is not on their agenda this night!

The disciples may have been taken by surprise, but one of them “drew his sword, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his ear.” It was Peter who struck the man, whose name was Malchus, probably a servant of the high priest Caiaphas (John 18:10-14). Jesus healed Malchus (Luke 22:51).

Jesus rebukes the mob for their extreme methods (Mark 14:48-49). He is no robber or political revolutionary. Day after day He taught in the temple. They knew who He was. They could have arrested Him at any time. Arresting Him late at night in a quiet, secluded location showed their cowardice. It was shameful. It was also a fulfillment of Scripture, for the prophet Isaiah had prophesied of the Suffering Servant, “He was despised and rejected by men” (53:3); “He was taken away because of oppression and judgment” (53:8); He “was counted among the rebels” (53:12).

Mark 14:50-52 records the sad defection of the disciples—all of them! Those who had a short time earlier boasted that they would die for Him now are nowhere to be found. An anonymous “young man” was nearly captured but was able to escape. However, his “linen cloth” was captured and so he “ran away naked.” Church tradition says the young man was Mark, the author of our second Gospel. So again, as it was in the garden of Eden, our nakedness is exposed as we desert the God who loves us and has graced us so abundantly with His kindness and good gifts.

And Jesus? He is arrested, and He is forsaken. He is all alone to face the wrath of men and the wrath of God. He will receive all that we deserve, that we might receive all that He deserves. The “Great Exchange” has begun.


Gethsemane is the prelude to Calvary. Before He could surrender His body to be beaten and crucified on the cross, He must first surrender His will to His heavenly Father in the garden. In the first garden, the garden of Eden, Adam said to the Father, “Not Your will but mine be done,” and336 all of creation was plunged into sin. In this second garden, the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus, the second Adam, says, “Not My will but Yours be done,” and the redemption and salvation of all creation begins! Eden brought death. Gethsemane begins new life.

Stuart Townend and Keith Getty penned a hymn titled “Gethsemane Hymn.” The words beautifully capture what this King who suffered alone did on our behalf:

To see the King of heaven fall

In anguish to His knees;

The Light and Hope of all the world

Now overwhelmed with grief.

What nameless horrors must He see,

To cry out in the garden:

“Oh, take this cup away from Me,

Yet not My will but Yours;

Yet not My will but Yours.”

To know each friend will fall away,

And heaven’s voice be still,

For hell to have its vengeful day

Upon Golgotha’s hill.

No words describe the Saviour’s plight—

To be by God forsaken

Till wrath and love are satisfied,

And every sin is paid,

And every sin is paid.

What took Him to this wretched place?

What kept Him on this road?

His love for Adam’s cursed race,

For every broken soul.

No sin too slight to overlook,

No crime too great to carry,

All mingled in this poisoned cup,

And yet He drank it all;

The Saviour drank it all;

The Saviour drank it all.

Reflect and Discuss

  1. Do you regularly ponder and meditate on Jesus Christ and what He has done for you? What thoughts have produced the most serious meditation? What thoughts have led to the most joyous praise?
  2. 337How would you respond to someone who said that Judas had no choice because he was destined to betray Jesus? How would you respond to the argument that Judas was not guilty because he did just what God needed him to do?
  3. In what areas of temptation might you be susceptible to pride and say, “I would never do that”? How do Proverbs 16:18 and 1 Corinthians 10:12 address this attitude?
  4. In what circumstances are you most tempted to fall away? How can you best prepare to stay true to God?
  5. Imagine finding out that in 24 hours you would die violently and painfully. How would you handle that knowledge? How would you spend those hours? What did Jesus do?
  6. Have you ever been determined to pray, but you fell asleep? What causes this? How might you improve your ability to “stay awake and pray” (14:38)?
  7. How would you explain to a non-Christian what caused Jesus such agony as He prayed in the garden?
  8. Why do you suppose Judas chose a kiss as the sign identifying Jesus to the police?
  9. Why did the Jewish leaders not arrest Jesus in the temple in the daylight?
  10. Why is it significant that it might have been Mark, the author of this Gospel, who “ran away naked” after Jesus was arrested (14:52)?