The Gospel of Mark

Mark - Lesson 14B

Chapter 14:12-21

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  • Tonight, we will pick up in our continued study of the Passion Chronology within Mark’s account.

    • And as we do so, we are seeing the anticipation of Jesus’ Passion and suffering on the cross is soon to commence.

    • Last week, we discussed that Mark recalled a moment in which Jesus was anointed for His burial by a woman in whom we discovered, according to John’s Gospel, was Mary, Lazarus’ sister.

      • It was at the home of Simon the Leper where Mary completely emptied the contents of her Alabaster vial upon the head of Jesus.

      • This having been done in preparation for His coming burial, something in which the Spirit informed her was coming for Him in a matter of days.

      • This tremendous sacrifice spoke not only of her love for Jesus, but it solidified the reality that Jesus’ death was approaching and where many of the disciples had missed this point, by illumination, Mary has been sovereignly set up for this purpose.

    • Mary’s great demonstration of her love and faith in Messiah could be seen as having been progressively moved from one level to the next, beginning with Jesus having resuscitated her brother not too long before.

      • As I mentioned last week, this is how the Lord illumines the hearts and minds of men and women.

      • For some it happens in an instance, whereas others it requires a progressive chain of events that lead to eventual understanding.

    • What became such an eye opener from last week was how the demonstration of Mary and her love for Jesus was juxtaposed to that of Judas and his gradual preparation to betray the Lord Jesus for a mere 30 pieces of silver.

      • That where Mary deemed the giving away of her greatest wealth to the Lord in preparation for His burial, Judas saw that sacrifice as a great waste.

      • This was the case because as we discovered, for the non-believer, the minds of the unbeliever does not and cannot rationalize spiritual matters for it is foolishness to them.

      • This ultimately led to the indignant response that Judas led the disciples into regarding their rebuke of Mary and her supposed waste of goods.

    • However, it took Jesus to defend her sacrifice and point to the heart of the matter and that was that her heart was right where it needed to be – with Him.

      • The reality was, there was coming a time in which the disciples would not have Jesus physically present with them.

    • Here we find a heart check question: What are the motivators that cause you to do what you do?

      • Is it based upon one’s submission to the will of God and His planning or is it more self-focused for the sake of sordid gain?

    • Here is where the line in the sand is drawn between those who believe and those who do not. Question is: Has one’s eyes been open to spiritual truth or not?

      • The beautiful thing is that as long as we have breath in our bodies, there is still opportunity for one to place faith in the Lord Jesus and that timetable is up to the Lord.

    • So, as we witnessed last week, Judas’ heart was more focused on a physical kingdom right then and there, in which he sought to be the priority – completely negating the purpose and plan Christ came for, which Jesus put forth in Mark 10:

      • “The Son of Man has come to seek and save the lost”

      • Therefore, the response in which Judas renders himself unto is to seek financial gain for himself through his own doing.

      • Ultimately, Judas’ choices played into God’s Sovereign plan which was Judas being used as the instrument by which the Lord Jesus would be betrayed.

    • Tonight, we continue in this timeline to the cross and will see the following things:

      • 1. Timeline Chronology continues (v.12)

      • 2. Preparation for the Passover (v.13-17)

      • 3. A Meal, a bowl, a Betrayal (v.18-21)

    • If I were to put a tag on tonight’s text, it would be: “Nothing Gets Past God”

      • With this outline in mind, let’s begin by reading verses 12-21 and we will pick up at the start of verse 12.

Mark 14:12 On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was being sacrificed, His disciples *said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?” 
Mark 14:13  And He *sent two of His disciples and *said to them, “Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him; 
Mark 14:14  and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is My guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”’ 
Mark 14:15  And he himself will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; prepare for us there.” 
Mark 14:16  The disciples went out and came to the city, and found it just as He had told them; and they prepared the Passover.
Mark 14:17 When it was evening He *came with the twelve. 
Mark 14:18  As they were reclining at the table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me—one who is eating with Me.” 
Mark 14:19  They began to be grieved and to say to Him one by one, “Surely not I?” 
Mark 14:20  And He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who dips with Me in the bowl. 
Mark 14:21  For the Son of Man is to go just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”
Mark 14:12 On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was being sacrificed, His disciples said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?” 
  • Before entering the Last Supper moment with Jesus and His disciples, we find that Mark provides us with yet another timeframe indication as to the day within the Passion Chronology.

    • Mark sets the scene by stating what day it was, plainly yet strangely, regarding the disciples seeking to prepare a place for their Passover feast with Jesus.

      • He begins by mentioning that this day is on the first day of Unleavened Bread in which the Passover lamb was to be sacrificed.

    • If you recall from last week’s teaching, I mentioned that the way in which the Jewish Feast was celebrated on the calendar was based upon two significant events happening back-to-back.

      •   The first event was the feast of Passover which was celebrated on the 14th of Nisan which was immediately followed by the feast of unleavened bread which happened on the 15th of Nisan.

      • However, by this time, they lumped both feasts together as the Feast of Unleavened bread.

    • As we discovered in our review of the Jewish Day reckoning, a Jewish “day” began with a 12-hour portion of night which moved into a 12 hour portion of day, rendering a 24-hour period.

      • And as we mentioned in last week’s teaching the day in which Mark goes back to tell the story of Simon the Leper took place on a Wednesday which was the 13th of Nisan.

      • Therefore, the timeline has now shifted from a Wednesday evening to a Thursday night.

      • Mark’s account furthermore confirms it is Passover “day” (Thursday) when he explains it was the “first day of Unleavened bread”.

      • This now is consistent with the day in which the Passover lamb was being sacrificed” – which is the 14th of Nisan.

    • So, it is Wednesday night, after sundown, which is the start of Thursday, the 14th of Nisan (the night belongs to the preceding day).

    • And the disciples are asking Jesus in verse12b “Where do you want us to go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?”

      • It is through the disciples’ questioning that we find yet another time frame indicator as to our transition into the feast of Passover and preparation for the Passover feast.

    • As I mentioned earlier, and as the graphic shows, the matters of Mark 14:1-11 in the Chronological timeline fall on that Wednesday, which means that Judas going to the religious leaders for his 30 pieces of silver occurred on Wednesday as well.

      • So, what began as a discussion with the religious leaders in private to betray Jesus turned into their surprising and unexpected meet up with Judas on Wednesday.

      • So, with this in mind as well as the Passover a few hours away, knowing that a meal and a lamb would have to be prepared according to Exodus 12, it begs the question: When did this preparation need to happen and who was set to do it?

      • We will address the first half of that question now and the second half will be addressed in the following verses.

    • To better understand the preparation for the Passover which included sacrificing the Lamb etc., we will need to examine the Hebrew bible to know how the preparation period occurred – so what better place to find that than the book of Exodus.

      • It is in Exodus 12 in which we find God’s instructions dealing with matters regarding the Passover itself and how each household was to slaughter a lamb at twilight for the Passover.

      • Check out Exodus 12:5-10 quickly.

Exodus 12:5 Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 
Exodus 12:6  You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight. 
Exodus 12:7 Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 
Exodus 12:8 They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 
Exodus 12:9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire, both its head and its legs along with its entrails. 
Exodus 12:10 And you shall not leave any of it over until morning, but whatever is left of it until morning, you shall burn with fire.
  • So, with this particular instruction it was custom for each family or household to have a lamb inspected, for it to be found without blemish, and slaughtered for the sins of the family for the Passover feast.

    • This Passover lamb must first be purchased, then be slaughtered at twilight, which refers to the time between the two evenings, or where two stars were visible in the night sky after sundown, and then eaten for the Passover Seder.

    • So, this was the meal in which the disciples are asking Jesus about – it would be this meal, also known as the Seder, which according to the gospel accounts is what is shown as the Last Supper.

    • However, it is worth noting that by Jesus’ day, the Torah Teachers concluded that the Passover lamb would need to be sacrificed at the Temple under the supervision of the priest.

      • These progressive changes were done under the reigns of Hezekiah and Josiah in an effort to ensure that all households were able to participate in Passover and were not easily fooled by Baalisim and other pagan influences.

      • You can find these reforms in both 2 Chronicles 30 and 2 Chronicles 35 respectively regarding the shift from household observance to National observance.

    • Therefore, these very reforms, although with the greatest intent, became mixed with God’s original instruction which gave the rabbis freedom to choose, eventually causing this mixture to be on full display in the 1st century and ultimately having the household lambs slaughtered on the 13th of Nisan during the day.

      • By default, this means that none of the Passover Lambs were truly killed on the 14th of Nisan according to God’s Law .

      • So, to ensure that there was at least one Lamb killed on Passover, the rabbis sacrificed a symbolic lamb during the daytime on the 14th of Nisan.

    • That lamb would be brought into the temple courts on the morning of the 14th and sacrificed at 9AM.

      • It would be this lamb that satisfied the Passover requirements for a lamb to be sacrificed on the actual day of Passover.

      • This is why Jesus being brought to the cross Thursday morning would allow Him to serve as Israel’s National Passover Lamb.

      • Most importantly, through Judas betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, it became the temple’s purchase of the Lamb of God on Israel’s behalf.

    • So with this context in mind, we now understand the disciples asking the question for the Passover Preparation.

      • However, the way in which Jesus would provide those instructions would be a bit secretive and for good reason.

      • Check out verses 13-17.

Mark 14:13  And He *sent two of His disciples and *said to them, “Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him; 
Mark 14:14  and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is My guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”’ 
Mark 14:15  And he himself will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; prepare for us there.” 
Mark 14:16  The disciples went out and came to the city, and found it just as He had told them; and they prepared the Passover.
Mark 14:17 When it was evening He *came with the twelve. 
  • Mark tells us that Jesus sent two of His disciples into Jerusalem and provided them with instructions to look for a certain man “carrying a pitcher of water” and to follow him.

    • One question that comes to mind from reading Mark’s account is: Who were the two disciples selected to follow these set of instructions?

      • Well, we need look no further than Luke’s gospel in Luke 22:8 where Jesus specifically tells Peter and John to go and prepare the Passover meal.

    • Along with that detail, we come to find yet another strange detail that Jesus includes in his descriptive series of events for where the Passover feast will be celebrated.

      • He mentions that there will be a man “carrying a pitcher of water.”

    • Herein lies a noteworthy detail that in the Middle East, only women would carry the water.

      • So, to see a man carrying water and not wineskins was quite unusual and therefore a sign.

      • This is why it is suggested by some scholars that this eye-catching sight was a pre-arranged signal and potentially an arrangement made by Jesus, Himself.

      • I believe this is the case because as we walk through the detailed instructions of this account, it is evident that this man and these arrangements regarding the Passover preparations is something that required agreed consent, but most importantly great familiarity with Jesus.

    • I say that because notice the definite article regarding “Teacher” in verse 14.

    • Jesus tells Peter and John once they arrive to the owner’s home that “The” Teacher says, “Where is My guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples”.

      • The use of that article indicates that this owner who remains unnamed in this account is someone who has high regard for Jesus as being a proclaimer and teacher of Divine Truth.

      • If that isn’t proof enough, Matthew’s gospel in Matthew 26:18 shows us yet another probing detail where Jesus tells the two disciples to say to the owner, “My time is near, I am to keep the Passover at your home with My disciples.”

    • With the coming arrival of the death of Christ, it becomes clear that the “time drawing near” in which Jesus is talking about is in relation to His impending death, which means that this owner, is in fact a follower of Messiah.

      • From there, Jesus lets Peter and John know that the owner would lead them to an upper room prepared and set for the Passover meal.

      • And with that in mind, it could be that a table and pillows for reclining were already provided for Jesus and His disciples and perhaps what was left was remaining food items to be prepared.

    • It is in verses 16-17 that we see that every detail that Jesus had given Peter and John were followed to a “t” to prepare the room and the meal for their evening Passover Seder on this 14th of Nisan.

      • And I believe one thing that is worth mentioning is Peter and John’s ability to follow the very words of Jesus in every step.

      • Lastly this brings about a very important question which will lead to the hostility that will be in view in the upper room and that is: “Why the need for the many directives for getting to the location?”

    • As we will see, with the betrayer amid the twelve, the timing of Jesus’ capture would need to be at the right moment and right time.

      • Therefore, to interrupt the things that Jesus would need to communicate to these men, especially with the establishment of the New Covenant, Jesus’ “turning over” would have to happen at the right moment and the Seder meal was not that moment.

      • So, to prevent premature interruption, Jesus provides these details to these two disciples so that there would be a location in place without any distractions and interruptions to accomplish God’s plan for His purposes.

    • It is at this point that Mark leaves us yet another time indicator as to the time of day in verse 17. He states, “When it was evening, He came with the twelve.”

      • This means we are officially in the night portion of the 14th of Nisan into the later point of the evening around dinner time.

      • Check out with me our last few verses, verses 18-21.

Mark 14:18  As they were reclining at the table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me—one who is eating with Me.” 
Mark 14:19  They began to be grieved and to say to Him one by one, “Surely not I?” 
Mark 14:20  And He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who dips with Me in the bowl. 
Mark 14:21  For the Son of Man is to go just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”
  • So, the scene now transitions to being in the upper room for the Passover Seder meal.

    • The Disciples and Jesus are reclining at the table as is custom for dinner and feasts amongst communal groups.

      • One could imagine, the dinner is moving in a positive direction, conversation is happening, but those conversations come to an immediate halt with the next few words uttered from the lips of our Lord Jesus.

      • Mark tells us that Jesus says, while reclining and eating amongst His disciples, that one of them among the group would betray Him.

      • Again, that Greek word for “betray” is paradidomi which means to be handed over or delivered over.

    • It is here within Mark’s gospel that the disciples detect their first sense of treachery and treason amongst their group.

      • You can imagine that much confusion was amongst the twelve.

      • Here is where having a grasp of all four Gospel accounts comes in handy as we work through what Mark provides as an abbreviated experience.

    • Verse 19, it seems as if the very hearts of these men are gripped in grief as the text tells us that they all began to say aloud to Jesus, “Surely not I”

      • I can only imagine it is at this point where perhaps even Judas is engaged in a false sense of grief to mask his true intentions of betraying the Lord Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

    • We find in John’s gospel (John 13:22-25) that Peter, in a perplexed state, gestures to John who was sitting reclining next to Jesus to ask the Lord, Who is the one in whom He spoke of.”

      • To which when we jump back to Mark’s gospel, Jesus answers that question by saying: “It is one of the twelve, one who dips with Me in the bowl.”

    • Well, this begs a question regarding the seating arrangement that has been put in place for the Seder meal.

      • That question is: “Who is the one beside Jesus that will dip with Him in the bowl?”

      • Who is sitting to the left and the right of Jesus, and for that matter how is the table arranged and organized for the Passover Seder?

      • The table according to John’s gospel seems to be arranged in a Roman triclinium arrangement which supposes a “u” shaped arrangement.

    • Along with this arrangement comes a set timetable of this unfolding news of deceit, which begs another question regarding timing.

      • And to pinpoint a particular time, one could use the outline of the Passover Seder to determine when in the meal did Jesus make this announcement and perhaps at what point did Judas leave the table.

      • So, lets begin with a summary of the Jewish Passover Seder meal.

    • For those who have participated in a Jewish Seder Meal, you know that it follows a script for Passover called Haggadah (Hag-ah-dah) which means a “telling”.

      • The meal is arranged around three activities which include: 1) Drinking wine, 2) eating various food items, and 3) reciting liturgy.

    • These three activities are spread throughout the course of the meal itself and are done in the following order:

      • 1. The 1st cup of wine, a washing, vegetables are eaten, a third of the bread is broken and hidden.

      • 2. 2nd cup of wine is given, washing, prayer, and bread and bitter herbs are eaten.

      • 3. 3rd cup of wine followed by the grace recited

      • 4. 4th cup of wine is given as a door is opened for Elijah’s return.

    • Each of these activities speaks significantly and symbolically of the Exodus and God delivering the Hebrew people out of Captivity.

      • So, where the Passover Seder meal remembers God delivering the people from Egyptian captivity, it also points to the coming sacrifice of Messiah for the sins of Israel.

    • At this point in Mark’s gospel Jesus mentions a very important detail which is found in verse 20 which states, “It is one of the twelve, one who dips with me in the bowl.”

      • So, based upon our outline summary of the Passover Seder, at what point has the question been asked?

      • Well, it would seem somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd serving of wine.

    • This section of the ceremony, called Karpas, follows the washing of hands.

      • The Hebrew term comes from the Greek karpos which refers to a fresh, raw vegetable.

      • This is the section of the Seder where everyone dips a piece of green vegetable into salt water and then eats it.

      • Therefore, the individual who would dip their parsley or celery into the salt water after Jesus was in fact the betrayer.

    • It seems that the disciples completely missed this clue due to several reasons – the primary one being they are more than likely trying to figure out amongst themselves who it is and wanting to verify if it is potentially them.

      • However, Judas knew who Jesus was referring to because he had already made the deal with the religious leaders.

      • On top of that, Judas, in all of this commotion according to Matthew’s gospel (Matthew 26:25) asks, “Is it I, Rabbi?”

      • To which Jesus replies, “You have said it yourself”.

      • And that Hebrew phrase when translated is actually is a Greek idiom which means, “Yes Indeed”.

    • As you can image the tension in the room is high which is further extended when Jesus mentions, in verse 21, the one in whom will betray Him. Check out the text again:

Mark 14:21  For the Son of Man is to go just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”
  • The reality was, although this betrayal was devastating news to the disciples, it was not a surprise to Jesus.

    • It was expected, yet at the same time the provision for His victory was already made.

    • Here again is yet another proof text of the Sovereignty of God at play amidst adversity and calamity in the world despite the circumstances of man.

      • The reality was Judas, through the volition of his own personal choices, was in fact held responsible for his sin against the Messiah.

      • That although this was destined long ago by God’s plan, Judas’ sin played into the very means by which scripture outlined that there would be one in whom would betray Messiah at an appointed time.

      • This was Jesus’ point in verse 21a: “The Son of Man will die according to what has been written of Him.”

    • It would now be that with Judas being to blame for betraying Jesus in hindsight, that at the table before all the disciples, Jesus pronounces a woe on “the man” who has betrayed Him.

      • A Woe is a biblical term that speaks to eternal judgement indicating that this individual is being condemned at this very moment.

      • As mentioned earlier, Judas has played into this active conspiracy of betraying the Son of Man knowing good and well that Jesus was completely innocent.

      • Therefore, this pronouncement served as a notice to Judas that what you thought you have gotten away with has greater ramifications than what you may think at the moment.

    • Judas will be held accountable for his sin against a Holy and Just God.

      • And at the same time, our Holy God can use the unholy means of men to accomplish His Holy and Just purposes.

    • So, Jesus lets it be known that the betrayer’s  punishment would make him wish he were never born.

      • It’s like when your mom used to say, “I brought you into this world and I can take you out”. But this woe from Jesus is much worse.

      • In other words, the very one in whom created Judas is the very one that will judge him righteously.

    • Judas’ punishment my friends is going to be one of great severity, in which Jesus mentions will make one wish they had never existed in the first place.

      • What we see from this reality is that there seems to be various levels of severity of punishment even in hell for unbelievers.

      • That just as there are rewards for the believer in Christ based upon our service to the Lord, in the same way, there are various distinctions of punishment for unbelievers due to the nature of sin.

    • If there is one thing that we can take away and apply from the text tonight, it is that individuals have the opportunity to respond to the truth of who Jesus is by way of the Spirit’s illumination or to reject Him and seek the consequences we are rightfully due.

      • As one Pastor once said, “You can choose the means and methods of how you want to sin, but you don’t have the freedom to choose your consequences. That alone belongs to the Lord.”

      • Our choices matter friends, and the greatest choice that one can make is by placing faith upon the Lord Jesus based upon the truth having been made known through the proclamation of the Gospel and the Holy Spirit drawing one to Jesus.

    • I believe what we see here tonight responds to the greatest questions that individuals have regarding the Sovereignty of God and Human Responsibility.

      • And what we see ever so clearly is, through the response of Judas’ actions, that the punishment he will forever face will be a clear memory.

      • His action and participation in the betrayal of his very Creator will ever be etched in his mind.

      • His opportunity for repentance had passed and the judgement of his eternal state was upon him.

    • I end with the words of Moses’ successor, Joshua, as he spoke to the Hebrew people, “Choose this day whom you will serve.”

      • Let’s Pray.


  • What the Bible Says about Passover Kept at the Temple, Accessed 1 June 2023.

    “However, these well-meaning reforms also contained a subtle change: Under both Hezekiah and Josiah—at the king's command rather than God's—the people observed the Passover at the Temple rather than in individual homes (II Chronicles 30 and 35). The kings may have done this to ensure that the people actually kept the Passover, and did so without mixing in the Baalism that was so prevalent in the land. These kings' examples introduced a second way of observing the Passover. Now the Jews had both God's original Passover instructions as well as the kings' reforms to draw on when determining how to observe the festival”

  • J. Jeremias, Words, 48–49. The Fourth Gospel’s description of the Beloved Disciple ἀνακείμενος ἐν τῷ κόλπῳ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ/ἀναπεσὼν ἐπὶ τὸ στῆθος τοῦ Ἰησοῦ (Jn. 13:23, 25; 21:20) presupposes this arrangement.
     R. T. France, The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 2002), 565–566