Faithless Servants of a Faithful Master
Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. John 13:1
With broad strokes of somber details and ominous words, Mark 14 depicts the hours that preceded Jesus’ crucifixion: the blood-spattered ebony of betrayal, the sallow shades of cowardice and fear, the tear-stained blues of denial and disappointment.
The chapter begins with the religious leaders’ murderous intentions and ends with Peter’s brokenhearted sobs. Mark uses various forms of betray seven times and pairs that despicable word with its loathsome companions—scatter, disown, denial, and fall away.
Nevertheless, the radiant beams of Jesus’ love for the disciples, indeed for all of us, cut through the darkness of human failure and remind us that no matter how faithless we are, He loves us “to the end.” Although Mark skips over many parts of the Passover meal Jesus shares with His disciples, John records the evening’s events in poignant detail: Jesus washing the disciples’ feet (John 13), the conversation around the table and later as they walk toward Gethsemane (John 14-16), and Jesus’ prayer (John 17).
In spite of his brevity, Mark too highlights Jesus’ compassion and concern for His disciples, especially His attempt to prepare them for the events that follow. Notice Jesus’ promises in verses 25 and 28: He will celebrate with them again in heaven, and He will see them in a few days in Galilee “after I have risen.”
Ironically, Peter missed the comfort and assurance Jesus offered in verse 28 because he was preoccupied with defending himself: “Even if all fall away, I will not” (v. 29). I wonder how often that happens in my life. Jesus knows what is coming, knows I will fail, yet wants to assure me that my faithlessness will in no way affect His love for me or His plans for my life. Like Peter, however, I am so self-absorbed that I miss my Master’s message.
There will be dark chapters in all of our lives, yet the rays of Jesus’ love and faithfulness can illuminate those murky times. Our Master is faithful even when we are not. Look beyond yourself, beyond the gloom, and toward the One who loves us “to the end.”
According to John 12:1-8, Mary anointed Jesus six days before Passover began. Why do you think Mark chose to insert her act of devotion in this chapter (14:3-9), which records events that took place the night Jesus was arrested?
The “hymn” Mark mentions in verse 26 may have been Psalms 115-118, the passages traditionally sung at the Passover meal. Read those psalms and reflect on their connection to the events recorded in Mark 14.
Read John 13-16. List the instructions and the promises Jesus gives the disciples. How can those instructions and promises enable us to be better servants?
Denise K. Loock