Sunday, April 09, 2006

Matt Messages - Abandoned

April 9, 2006
Mark 14:1-15:47

We are there: The Passion–the Suffering and Death–of Jesus Christ. Mark’s introduction to the most amazing person in all of human history is nearing its completion. The entire gospel has been relentlessly driving to this point. Numerous times, Jesus has predicted His betrayal, suffering, and crucifixion in Jerusalem. And now it is here–in Jerusalem, in that last week. Jesus is going to be killed.

This morning, I’m not so much going to preach these two chapters as read them carefully and meditate on them with you. I want us to feel the power of these two chapters as Mark tells the story of the last few days and hours of Jesus’ life.

I’ll bring in some application as we go along, but mainly, I want us to simply feel the force of the story press itself onto our souls. You can take notes if you want to, but I won’t be offering “points” like I usually do. You may want to just glue your eyes on the text.

And the one chief thing I want us to see as we go is that Jesus is abandoned. Jesus is abandoned by everyone. He is utterly deserted. Betrayed, mocked, tortured, crucified, forsaken...alone. The title of my message today is: “Abandoned”

I think Mark emphasizes this abandonment theme as he tell the story.

Jesus’ abandonment is what it took for us to not be abandoned. Jesus’ abandonment is what it took for us to have a loving relationship with the living God.

So let’s look to God in prayer and then to God’s Word in wonder at the abandonment of Jesus Christ.


Mark chapter 14, verse 1.

“Now the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some sly way to arrest Jesus and kill him. [They hated Him. They were threatened by Him. He had put them to shame and showed their evil ways. And they wanted to kill Him. V.2] ‘But not during the Feast,’ they said, ‘or the people may riot.’”

Jerusalem swelled with hundreds of thousands of pilgrims during the big Holy Feasts. The Jewish rulers are worried that if they killed Jesus, the crowds would create a riot. So, at this point, they aren’t planning to do anything about Jesus except watch for an opportunity.

While they are planning to kill Jesus, a woman is planning to honor Him. V.3

“While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper [who must be, we need to note, a former leper [!] or they wouldn’t have been able to eat with him!], a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on [Jesus’] head.”

This is an act of extravagant worship! This woman (who we know from the Gospel of John to be Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus) broke the jar (made it unusable) and poured the whole thing out on Jesus–anointing Him. Extravagant worship. But not all were impressed. V.4

“Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, ‘Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year's wages and the money given to the poor.’ And they rebuked her harshly.

‘Leave her alone,’ said Jesus. ‘Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.’”

What they saw as wasteful worship, Jesus saw as beautiful worship. “She has done a beautiful thing to me...She has poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.”

You don’t normally anoint a person for burial before He has died!

Jesus expects to die a criminal’s death and to not get a proper burial. And he loves this expression of this woman’s love for Him.

He says that it will be talked about throughout the whole world as His gospel progresses. And here we are talking about it 2000 years later in Lanse, Pennsylvania.

Jesus loves this expression of worship. He says, “She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.”

In essence, Jesus was saying, “I am worth this sacrifice!” He’s not saying don’t give to the poor–Jesus loves the poor! He’s saying right now, you have me, and I am worthy of all of this worship.

Jesus is worthy of extravagant worship.

Jesus is worth pouring out all that we have.

Remember the widow with her two coins, two weeks ago? That was just a few days from this story.

That widow gave all she had, and it wasn’t much. But it was extravagant worship.

This woman gives all the perfume she has, and it was worth much.

And Jesus is worth it all. Jesus is worthy of extravagant worship.

Do you agree?

Now, keep that in mind as we read about this extravagantly worthy Jesus who is abandoned. Not only abandoned...but betrayed. V.10

“Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.”

The woman gave over her priceless heirloom for Jesus. Judas gives over Jesus for a handful of coins. What a contrast!
In the next section of the story, Jesus is shown to be in charge even on this fateful day. V.12

“On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread [which is Thursday by my reckoning], when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus' disciples asked him, ‘Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?’ [Jesus has a plan.] So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, ‘Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. [Notice the undercover-nature of this mission. Jesus wants to get things set up in a secret way so they can have privacy.] Say to the owner of the house he enters, 'The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?' He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.’ The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.”

They got the unleavened bread, the wine, the bitter herbs, the sauce, and the lamb.

Notice how Jesus is in full control of His destiny. He knows what is swirling around Him. He knows what’s going to happen next. This is all according to plan. No matter how terrible the plan will be for Him.

He knows that it will mean His betrayal. V.17

“When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, ‘I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me–one who is eating with me.’ They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, ‘Surely not I?’ [Surely, not I! Don’t judge them! See yourself in them.] ‘It is one of the Twelve,’ he replied, ‘one who dips bread into the bowl with me.

The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.’”

Notice the interplay of divine sovereignty and human responsibility. Both are completely true. V.22

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take it; this is my body.’ [What they must have thought when He said that!] Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,’ he said to them. ‘I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.’ When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”

We still have the taste from the bread and cup on our tongues.

Jesus won’t taste it again until that glorious return that we talked about last Sunday.

They went back to the Mount of Olives. And Jesus predicted His abandonment. V.27

“‘You will all fall away,’ Jesus told them, ‘for it is written: ‘'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.' [Zechariah 13:7. Who is the I? God will strike the shepherd–Jesus. And the sheep–the disciples will be scattered.] But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.’

Peter declared, ‘Even if all fall away, I will not.’ [I won’t abandon you!] ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘today–yes, tonight–before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.’

But Peter insisted emphatically, ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.’ And all the others said the same.”

Don’t judge them. Put yourself in their shoes. They are a mirror of our faithlessness. V.32

“They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled.”

Peter, James, and John all think that they are hot-stuff. They’ll never desert Him and they should have the places on the left and the right of Him in glory. But instead, they abandon Him to sleep while He prays in agony. V.34

“‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,’ he said to them. ‘Stay here and keep watch.’ [Just like He said in chapter 13.] Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him.

‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’

That’s an amazing prayer! Such intimacy and yet such agony at the same time. Such torment over the prospect of the cup of the wrath of God and yet such abandonment to the will of His Father!

And He has to do it alone. V. 37

“Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Simon,’ he said to Peter, ‘are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.’

Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him. [Sorry?]

Returning the third time, he said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!’”

The “hour” has come. It’s time. It’s time to die.

“Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve [!], appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders. [There’s been a warrant put out for His arrest.]

Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: ‘The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.’ Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, ‘Rabbi!’ and kissed him.

The men seized Jesus and arrested him. Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. ‘Am I leading a rebellion,’ said Jesus, ‘that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.’ [Abandonment to the will of God. V.50]

Then everyone deserted him and fled.”

Every single one. Peter (John tells us) was the one who cut off the servant’s ear. But He ran away, too.

Everyone ran away.

Jesus was deserted.
Jesus was forsaken.
Jesus was abandoned. V51.

“A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.”

Many scholars think that this young man might have been John Mark, the gospel-writer himself. I don’t know.

All I know is that everyone left Him. Everyone abandoned Jesus.

Even justice abandoned Jesus. The next section describes in just a few details what His two major trials were like.

The first trial was the Jewish trial before the High Priest and the Sanhedrin. V.53

“They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, elders and teachers of the law came together. [71 of them in total.] Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire. [Maybe he hasn’t abandoned Jesus!] The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. [He was pure.] Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree. Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: ‘We heard him say, 'I will destroy this man-made temple and in three days will build another, not made by man.'’ Yet even then their testimony did not agree.”

You need to understand that this whole trial is massively illegal. They were not to have a trial at night. They were not to have a trial during a Festival. The witnesses must agree, two or three for a charge to stick. This whole thing is travesty of justice. But they don’t care. All they care about is getting rid of the troublemaker. V.60

“Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, ‘Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?’ [Silence.] But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?’

What’s the answer? Peter had said that He was back in chapter 8. We called the highpoint of the gospel at that point. ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?’

If He is, then they should praise God for sending Him and worship Him!

“‘I am,’ said Jesus. ‘And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’ [The Son of Man from Daniel 7 is equated with the Messiah of Psalm 110. And He’s suffering like the Servant of Isaiah 53.]

The high priest tore his clothes. ‘Why do we need any more witnesses?’ he asked. ‘You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’ They all condemned him as worthy of death. Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, ‘Prophesy!’ And the guards took him and beat him.”

This is what He went through for you.

He didn’t deserve it.

“Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, ‘Prophesy!’ And the guards took him and beat him.”

Will Peter come to His defense? V.66

“While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him. ‘You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,’ she said. But he denied it. ‘I don't know or understand what you're talking about,’ he said, and went out into the entryway.

When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, ‘This fellow is one of them.’ Again he denied it.

After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, ‘Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.’ He began to call down curses on himself, and he swore to them, ‘I don't know this man you're talking about.’

Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.’ And he broke down and wept.”

Do you see yourself in Peter?

We have all been like Peter.

And Jesus was alone. Abandoned by justice. The next section is about His Roman trial. Chapter 15, verse 1.

“Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, reached a decision. They bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.”

They couldn’t legally kill Him. And they probably afraid of the crowd. If they could get the Romans to kill Him, they would keep the people from rioting. So they handed Him over to the Roman governor V.2

“‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ asked Pilate. ‘Yes, it is as you say,’ Jesus replied. [He is the King of the Jews!] The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, ‘Aren't you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.’ [Silence.] But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.

“He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” [Isaiah 53:7].

Now, Pilate thought he was a crafty old devil and wanted to use the crowd to his advantage. V.6

“Now it was the custom at the Feast to release a prisoner whom the people requested. A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.

‘Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?’ asked Pilate, knowing it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. [Pilate probably thinks that the crowd will overturn the chief priests, Jesus will go free and Pilate will be popular. Jesus seem pretty harmless to him right now. V.11]

But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead. ‘What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?’ Pilate asked them.

‘Crucify him!’ they shouted.

‘Why? What crime has he committed?’ asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, ‘Crucify him!’

Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.”

That was the justice that Jesus got.

That flogging He got often killed its recipients. They had a leather whip with pieces of bones and metal shards embedded in it. And it would have ripped open our Savior’s back. V.16

“The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. [Mocking our Lord!] And they began to call out to him, ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.”

He had to carry His own crossbeam. But with the beating He had endured, He could hardly walk. V.21

“A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. [No anesthesia.]

And they crucified him.”

I don’t think we really know what that means...

“Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get. [He’s naked, hanging there, fighting to breath. Dying.] It was the third hour [9am] when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

“They crucified two robbers with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!’

In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can't save himself! Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.’ Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

He was alone. He was abandoned.

“At the sixth hour [noon] darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour [3pm]. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’– which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”

Jesus was abandoned, even by His Father.

He was abandoned to the wrath of His Father.

Jesus was experiencing the agony of Psalm 22. Read it this week in your devotions. Think about how Jesus felt when the wrath of God was poured out on Him and the intimacy of the Trinity was broken for 3 hours that Friday.

“Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”

Someone thought that he was saying “Elijah, not Eloi.” V.35

“When some of those standing near heard this, they said, ‘Listen, he's calling Elijah.’ One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. ‘Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to take him down,’ he said.

With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, ‘Surely this man was the Son of God!’”

This is what the abandonment of Jesus accomplished.

It ripped apart the barrier between God and man. It opened the way into the Holy of Holies.

And it opened the eyes of a Roman soldier to believe in the deity of Christ.

We don’t know anything else about this centurion except that He saw more clearly than anyone else in this entire gospel Who Jesus was.

And He saw it in His death.

The Cross, which is ugly and difficult to think about, is the clearest revelation of Who Jesus is.

“Surely this man was the Son of God!”

Can you see it?

Can you see the way into relationship with God through the abandonment of God?

This is what to took for you and me to not be abandoned like we should be.

Jesus was abandoned so that we who should have been abandoned can come into loving relationship with the living God.

“[H]e was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” [Isaiah 53:5-6].

“Surely this man was the Son of God!”


“Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there. It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God [a believer], went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body. Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead [some crucified men could hang on for days]. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body [the corpse of Jesus], wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.”

There was no mistake. Jesus was dead.

Seemingly, this is the end of the story.

And we will pick up right here next Sunday.

Right now, I just want us to think about the abandonment of Jesus.

Abandoned, betrayed by Judas.
Abandoned in prayer, the spirit was willing but the body was weak.
Abandoned by His followers–no matter how brave they said they would be.
Abandoned by justice, both Jewish and Roman.

Abandoned to torture, mockery, ridicule, scorn, flogging, spitting, beating.

Abandoned to God’s will.

Abandoned by God the Father.

Abandoned to Death.

For you and for me.

How do you respond to the abandonment of Jesus?

Have you taken advantage of the access to God that the abandonment of Jesus affords for you?

The curtain in the temple was torn.

Have you come into a loving relationship with God through the Cross of Christ?

Are you thankful for the Cross of Jesus Christ?

Are you living for Savior?

Are you following the Savior?

He was forsaken so that you will not be.
He was deserted so that you will never be.
He was abandoned so that you and I can relate to God in love forever.

“Surely this man was the Son of God!”