We are not surprised when enemies attack and kill their enemies. However, betrayal comes as a surprise because it is not enemies that attack you but your friends or family. Many of us know of Julius Caesar, one of the greatest Roman generals. However, his death came not at the hands of his adversaries but from his nephew, Marcus Junius Brutus (imagine calling his name out). The politically motivated assignation came from Brutus and other senators. Historians explain the last words that left Julius Caesar were, “et tu, Brutus?” Translated, “even you, Brutus?” Betrayal comes as a surprise in most cases because it is unexpected. As we look at the Gospel of Mark, we come to the closing days of Jesus and his life. These days are marked with betrayal, denial, and abandonment of Christ. We see the unfaithfulness of the disciples but the faithfulness and grace of Christ. In these passages we are looking at today we see Jesus’ authority; Jesus is not a passenger in these pages, he knows all things. He is not surprised or caught off guard even by his betrayal. Jesus does not utter the words, “et tu, Judas?” He knows even before the other disciples knew. Jesus is not a leaf on a river in his last days in his earthly ministry, but his authority and sovereignty are above all things in heaven and earth, whether thrones or dominions, or rulers, or authorities. We will see all these things in the coming chapters of the Gospel of Mark.
I. Jesus knows his time has come (12-16)
Next week we will spend more time on the fulfillment of Christ as the Passover lamb. However, Christ knows his time has come. He has been telling his disciples that the Son of Man must suffer many things (Mark 8:31-33, 9:30-31, 10:32-34). The Passover lamb was soon to be sacrificed. Jews from across the lands have come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover (Dt 16:5-8). In 66 AD, after the completion of the temple, the Jewish historian Josephus said that there were over 2 million people who were in Jerusalem that year. Now this year was a special year with the completion of the temple, and quite possible this number is exaggerated. But we can make this statement that Jerusalem is in a hustle. The disciples ask Jesus’ where will we celebrate the Passover? This was no small task, as we will see next week. The height of the Jewish calendar.
So, Jesus sends two disciples, Luke tells us they are Peter and John (Luke 22:8). Now, Jesus sends his disciples out in twos, twice before. First, in Mark 6:7, when he gave them authority over the unclean spirits, he sent them out to proclaim. Secondly, he sent two of them ahead to get the young colt which he would ride into Jerusalem. In today’s, passage he sends Peter and John ahead to prepare the lamb for the Passover feast. In these three instances, we see Christ sends his disciples out under their authority. That his disciples serve Christ in his offices of prophet, king, and priest. This account is like the account found in Mark 11. We can read this account as Jesus knowing future details. However, I think in this instance it is that Jesus had organized in advance for this man to host Jesus and his disciples for the Passover. Now in a busy city, this man would stand out. Often it was the women or servants who would be carrying a jar of water. In a busy city, a prior arrangement most likely would have had to be made. One of the reasons I read that this would be the case; that is the religious leaders were seeking information about Jesus to have him killed secretly. Jesus set up this rendezvous so that few people would know where he is, even Judas. Whatever, this rendezvous might be planned by Christ through ordinary circumstances or known by Christ as the Father had told him. Christ is aware of what is coming. He knows that he is the Passover lamb to be sacrificed, not as a type or a shadow but as the reality of all the promises of God.
II. Jesus knows who will betray him (17-20, 21b)
Secondly, we see something we as the readers already know, Judas is the one who will betray Jesus. We know this because of Mark 12:10-11 and Mark 3:19, as we looked at last week. Now, this is the shocking part of this passage. Mainly, normally it is the one who is betrayed who is surprised, but in this passage, the one being betrayed knows all. Previously, Jesus had said to his disciples that he would be delivered (paradidomai) into the hands of men. They did not understand this the three times Jesus had told them previously, but even know Jesus explain that “One of you, will betray (paradidomai) me.” For at least three years Jesus had 12 men follow him and he gave the secrets of the kingdom of God. All of them heard Jesus’ teaching. All of them were sent out by Jesus. They all had given up their occupations to be Jesus’ disciples. On this night, Jesus uttered the words, one of you. Now, we as readers know who this is, we have known from chapter three and reminded in chapter fourteen. There is no guessing for us. However, in the upper room that night as they are eating the Passover meal Jesus drops the bombshell, one of you. Now notice in verse nineteen as soon as these words are uttered the disciples became sorrowful. There were grieved, they might have assumed that a religious leader would hand Jesus over, but not one of them. Notice that they all asked the question, “is it I?”
Two things we need to know; first, all of them asked. Judas asked this question externally and had uttered the words of something he had previously agreed. John explains that “the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him” (John 13:2). But the second thing we should see is that Jesus knows who it is, but the disciples do not know. John later explains this scene in more detail about the disciple’s interaction with Jesus,
“One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at the table at Jesus’ side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him.” (John 13:23–28)
The disciples are oblivious, but two people in this room know what is about to happen, Judas and Jesus. Judas may be caught off guard because Jesus tells him to go and do it quickly. Jesus knew what was happening and he told Judas to go and do it. We think of Christ and his last days, but he is sovereign over all. Willing to go to the cross, and this makes the statement more glorious, Jesus went to the cross. Not because he was forced but he willingly went (as we saw in Mark 10:32-34).
Now we should briefly look at this instance. God is sovereign, Satan is tempting, and Judas is betraying. What we see here is God’s sovereign hand over all things who has ordained all things that shall come to pass. This can be a difficult thing for us to wrap our finite minds around. But we see God is not the author of sin, he uses secondary means. In this we see Satan tempting and putting it into Judas’s heart. But Judas is the one who is sinning, he cannot say, Jesus told me to betray him, nor that Satan made me do it. Sin rose from Judas’ heart, Judas was not forced to betray him, he desired to betray him, he wanted to betray him so that he might have his 30 pieces of silver.
III. Jesus knows what the Scriptures teach (21a)
As we will see next week the Old Testament is filled with images of Christ. The promises that are laced throughout the Scriptures: types and shadows. The Scriptures also give specific prophecies of birth, life, death, resurrection, and his role in the church. These can be hard to count because of what you call a prophecy. Some have said there are up to 300 in the Old Testament, others are in the ’70s. Nevertheless, Jesus knew what the Scriptures teach. He explains, “The Son of Man goes as it is written on him.” Jesus goes to the cross, being obedient to the Scriptures. Going to fulfill the promises, types, shadows, and prophecies given by God. Recorded in the Old Testament and revealed in the New Testament. You see prophecies of how much Jesus would be betrayed and what will happen with that money (Zech 11:12-13, cf. Matthew 27:3-10). Luke records Jesus explaining to the crowd as he read from Isaiah 61:1, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” In a short period of time, the disciples will see numerous scriptures being fulfilled in their sight before their eyes. Jesus would be forsaken (Ps 22:1), scorned (22:8), Thirsty (22:15), pierced (22:16), and have his clothes divided (22:18). This is only from Psalm 22.
The disciples did not understand this, but Jesus did. Jesus knew what the scriptures taught. However, the disciples would later understand this fabulous truth of Christ coming. Two disciples have one of the best lessons on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-27). The disciples would use this to teach the gospel to others. Paul explains to Felix Agrippa in Acts 26:22-23,
“To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles”
Paul preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ from the Old Testament. We see these prophecies fulfilled. Jesus is not a leaf floating down the river not knowing what is about to happen to him but he knows what is about to happen and occur. He knows his time has come, he knows who would betray him and he knows all of this because the Scriptures teach that the Christ must suffer and be raised from the dead.
Jesus is not an answer to one of our prayers, he is the answer to our prayers. The promised messiah whom the Moses and the Prophets wrote about. The yes and amen to all of God’s promises. The Apostles pray in Acts chapter 4 for boldness, but before they do they say,
“Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “ ‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’— for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” (Acts 4:24–28).
They utter their prayer to the Sovereign Lord, they quote Psalm 2, and they explain that the leaders gathered against Christ. But they carry out the Lord’s plan of providence. This passage shows this truth so beautifully. Jesus knows and goes to the cross. As Isaac Watts puts it in his great hymn, “Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed.”
Alas! and did my Savior bleed,
and did my Sovereign die!
Would he devote that sacred head
for sinners such as I?
Jesus our sovereign savior died on the cross for a sinner such as I. This was the Lord’s plan, to save sinners, not through bulls and goats but to send his Son to die for us. There is no plan B, just God’s perfect plan which Christ fulfilled.