Jesus knew that the chief priests and the scribes were conspiring to kill Him, and that His own disciple Judas Iscariot would betray Him. He prepared Himself and His disciples for His suffering and death. Hours before He was arrested, He “eagerly desired” (Lk 22:15, NIV) to eat the Passover with them. During the meal, He established the sacraments of Holy Communion (Mk 14:22-24; Lk 22:17-20) and footwashing (Jn 13:3-17). In Gethsemane, in great distress and sorrow, He prayed for strength to serve the Father until the very end.
Did You Know...?
1. Simon the leper (14:3): Probably a well-known victim of leprosy who had been healed by Jesus.
He was likely a friend or relative of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus (cf. Jn 12:2).
2. The woman who anointed Jesus (14:3) was Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus (cf. Jn 12:3).
3. Alabaster flask (14:3): Alabaster is a mineral with layers of slightly varying shades and colors, often very delicate and beautiful.
The jar had a thin, long neck which was snapped off when the contents were used for special occasions.
4. Spikenard/Pure nard (14:3): Aromatic oil from a rare plant root native to India, where it is still used as a perfume for the hair.
5. Three hundred denarii (14:5): About a year’s wage for a laborer (one denarius was a day’s wage).
6. “Given to the poor” (14:5): It was a Jewish custom to give gifts to the poor on the evening of the Passover. [ref]
7. “For burial” (14:8): It was a Jewish custom to anoint the body with aromatic oils when preparing it for burial.
8. Day of Unleavened Bread/Passover (14:12): A commemoration of the time when the angel of the Lord passed over the homes of the Hebrews when he killed all the firstborn in Egypt (cf. Ex 12:1-27).
The eight-day celebration of the Feast of Unleavened Bread takes place sometime between March and April.
On the Passover, the first day, the sacrificial lamb is slaughtered. After sunset, the family gathers to eat the meal, which consists of bitter herbs, unleavened bread, and roasted lamb, interspersed with four cups. Thanksgiving prayers are offered. During the meal, it is customary for a boy to ask the meaning of all this, and the head of the household would explain the symbols in terms of the Exodus.
Jesus and His disciples celebrated the feast as a family.
9. “A man carrying a jar of water” (14:13): Usually it was women who carried water jars (men carried wineskins).
10. Guest room (14:14): It was a Jewish custom that anyone in Jerusalem who had a room available would give it upon request to a pilgrim to celebrate the Passover.
11. Hymn (14:26): During the Passover meal, the household would sing the Hallel–Psalms 113-118. The leader would sing the lines, and the rest would respond with “Hallelujah!”(“Praise the Lord!”).
12. Gethsemane (14:32): Literally, “Oil Press.” [ref] It was an olive grove where Jesus had often met with His disciples (cf. Jn 18:1-2).
13. “Abba” (14:36): Aramaic word for father. [ref] The word conveyed a sense of intimacy and familiarity, and was a common way young Jewish children addressed their fathers. The Jews would consider it an inappropriate way to address God in prayer. [ref]
What is the most difficult challenge you have ever faced? Did you have time to prepare for it?
If you knew you had only five more days to live, how would you prepare yourself? How did Jesus prepare Himself when He entered Jerusalem (Mk 11:7-10), five days before His crucifixion?
If you knew you would die in 24 hours, how would you prepare yourself? How did Jesus prepare Himself before the Passover, one day before His crucifixion?
What did each of the following do before Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion? a. Woman; b. Jesus; c. DisciplesHide Answer
a. Woman—poured pure nard on Jesus’ head to prepare Him for His burial (3, 8)
b. Jesus—forgave Judas (by washing his feet [Jn 13:1-5]); repeatedly warned His betrayer (Jn 13:11, 18, 21, 26); told His disciples how He felt (34); asked them to keep watch and pray with Him (38); fell to the ground and prayed to God (35)
c. Disciples—saddened (19); determined to stand by the Lord (31); fell asleep (37, 40)
Why did Mark put the account of Jesus’ anointing in-between the plot to kill Him and Judas’ betrayal?Hide Answer
It was a contrast between a “beautiful thing” (6, NIV) and the hidden evil that would soon manifest itself.
What was the price of Judas’ betrayal? Why did he betray Jesus? (cf. Mt 26:15, 23-25; Lk 22:6; Jn 12:6, 13:27).Hide Answer
Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 silver coins. He had been a thief, and Satan worked through his greed. He did not confess his sins when Jesus gave him a chance to repent. Instead, he plotted to hand Jesus over when no crowd was present.
Why were people indignant at the woman? What does the word “wasted” (4) tell you about their values?Hide Answer
To them, the perfume’s monetary value was greater than its function. In their eyes, Jesus was not important enough to spend that money on. They self-righteously believed that they had a better use for the perfume and judged the woman with their own values. In fact, they probably wished that they could have the money themselves (cf. Jn 12:4-6). However, the woman used the perfume as it was intended, and she used it on the best possible recipient—Jesus.
Do you ever become upset over someone else’s offering or how he or she does church work? Why?
Why would the woman’s deed be told wherever the gospel is preached (9)?Hide Answer
The woman’s deed was the only one in the four gospel books that Jesus praised as “beautiful” (NIV) or “good” (NKJV). It was evidence of her spiritual wisdom; she knew more about the Lord’s suffering than the disciples did. The Holy Spirit worked through her faith to prepare Jesus for His burial. Just as Jesus said, today we have much to learn from the woman’s beautiful offering to Jesus Christ.
Compare 12-16 to 11:1-6.Hide Answer
In both cases, God prepared the materials beforehand. The disciples’ job was to obey and go, as the Lord commanded. They did not doubt Jesus’ words and did not fear embarrassment for asking a stranger for something. Because they obeyed without question, they enjoyed the fruit of their labor (sharing Jesus’ glory when they entered Jerusalem; dining with Him during Passover).
Read Exodus 12:5, 21-23. Compare the Passover’s sacrificial lamb to Jesus Christ.Hide Answer
The sacrificial animal was without defect. Similarly, our Lord Jesus was without sin. The lamb was slaughtered, and its blood was put on the doorframe so that the people inside would be spared. Like the lamb, Jesus became the sacrifice of atonement to spare us from sin and death (Rom 3:25).
Explain verse 21. How does it relate to Judas?Hide Answer
Jesus wanted Judas to know the severity of his actions, and warned him clearly (Mt 26:25). The man who betrayed the Lord would bear a sin so great that “it would have been good for that man if he had not been born” (Mt 26.24). Prophecy must be fulfilled; Jesus must be betrayed and crucified. However, God does not cause anyone to sin (Jas 1:13-15). The one who betrayed Him could not use prophecy as an excuse. Judas bore the great sin and responsibility because it was his decision to go to the chief priests.
How is this Passover meal significant in light of Jesus’ impending death?Hide Answer
The Passover meal had been a symbol of the Hebrews’ salvation from Egypt. During the Last Supper, Jesus revealed the deeper spiritual meaning behind it. His words were soon fulfilled when He died on the cross. Today, the Passover has taken on a new meaning. During the Holy Communion, the bread and the cup are Jesus’ body and blood. When we eat and drink the Holy Communion, we have the promise of eternal life, which was made possible through the suffering and death of Jesus Christ.
Are the unleavened bread and the cup only symbolic of Jesus’ body and blood? Why or why not?Hide Answer
Jesus made it clear that the Holy Communion is more than symbolism. He did not say, “My body is like this bread” or “My blood is like this cup.” He said, “This is My body” (22) and “This is My blood” (24). And He said clearly, “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life” (Jn 6:54). This is a spiritual mystery that we must accept by faith.
Why do we partake the Holy Communion? (cf. Jn 6:51, 53-56;
1Cor 11:24-26).Hide Answer
remember Christ (Lk 22:19); proclaim His death; remember how Christ shed His blood to forgive our sins (Mt 26:28); renew the hope of resurrection and eternal life; await for the coming of the kingdom of God (25).
What is the “new covenant” that is made effective by the blood of Jesus Christ?Hide Answer
This new covenant is the fulfillment of God’s promise in Jer 31:31-34, i.e. the forgiveness of sins, God’s acceptance of believers as His own, and the inner workings of God in the hearts of His people. Through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, we have entered into a new relationship with God.
Read Psalms 113-118 (likely the hymn Jesus sang with His disciples). How do the lyrics describe salvation through Jesus Christ?Hide Answer
We praise the Lord for raising us to sit with Jesus Christ (Ps 113:7-8). Jesus leads us out of sin (“Egypt”) to the one true God (Ps 114:1, 115:3-7). Because Jesus died and was resurrected, death no longer has power over us (Ps 116:3-6; Rom 8:34).
What is your favorite hymn? Why? If the hymn is based on a biblical passage, read the passage and meditate on its meaning.
Read verses 18-19 and 31. Why did each of the twelve disciples wonder if he would betray Jesus, and yet was so adamant that he would not deny Jesus?Hide Answer
When Jesus told the twelve disciples, “One of you will betray me” (18), they seemed to assume that the betrayal would take place further down the road; they had no idea that Jesus would be arrested that very night (Jn 13:25-29). At that moment, it did not seem possible that one of them would betray Jesus. In this case, although the disciples did not have the spiritual wisdom to understand, at least they showed spiritual maturity. They looked at themselves first (asking, “Is it I?” ) instead of blaming each other.
However, when Peter said emphatically, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You” (31), each of them followed suit. They were caught up in the moment and made promises they could not keep. In not wanting to appear cowardly, disloyal, or, worse, like a traitor, they lost the humility and the heart of self-examination that they had in the Passover meal.
What mistakes will you never make? Why are you so sure?
What do Peter’s words tell you about him?Hide Answer
He was confident in his own strength. He was sincere, but did not know his weakness. He claimed that he would die with Jesus. A few moments later, he fell asleep in Gethsemane. Later, when he was questioned about Jesus, he emphatically denied that he knew Jesus (Mk 14:71).
Have you ever made a sincere promise that you failed to keep? Why did you make the promise? Why did you fail?
Why did Jesus tell His disciples that He was “exceedingly sorrowful” (34)?Hide Answer
This was the only time recorded in the Bible when Jesus told His weakness to His disciples. The bitter cup was too much for Him. His human weakness was too much for Him to handle. He knew His closest disciples would soon betray, deny, and desert Him. The people who cheered Him a few days before would soon be yelling, “Crucify him!” To save us, He had to take on the sins of the world upon Himself.
Why did the disciples fall asleep?Hide Answer
their eyes were heavy (40); they expected that Jesus would still be with them the next day; they did not know that Jesus would be arrested soon
Why did Jesus single out Peter for falling asleep (37)?Hide Answer
Peter was the one who was so sure that he would not fall away. He turned out to be the first to fall into temptation to deny Jesus. Jesus had specifically warned Peter that Satan would tempt him (Lk 22:31-32), and still Peter did not remain alert.
Have you fallen asleep during a sermon, Bible study, or prayer? Why?
List the characteristics of sleep. Compare them to falling asleep in faith.Hide Answer
comfort, warmth, not aware of surroundings; random, uncontrolled dreams; don’t remember the dreams when you wake up.
Similarly, if we do not keep watch (Mk 13:36-37), we would become blind to the signs of the times and God’s will in our life. We would lose our sense of direction, swayed by false teachings (Eph 4:14). We would rather hide in the world’s comforts, even though we know it will end when Jesus comes again.
Why did Jesus return to Peter, James, and John three times? How did they disappoint Him?Hide Answer
Jesus came to see if they’d learned their lesson, to see if they were alert and praying. In His most distressing moment, Jesus needed His disciples to support Him, but He had none. Even though they were physically there with Him, they had already deserted Him emotionally and spiritually.
How have you disappointed Jesus when He needed you?
Compare Jesus’ words in 14:37-38 to His words in 13:35-37. What does this tell you about the three disciples?Hide Answer
The disciples either did not take Jesus’ words to heart or did not have the power to overcome their physical tiredness.
What are some things that your spirit is willing to do but is unable to because of your flesh? How do you overcome this obstacle?
How does the fact that God is our “Abba” (cf. Did You Know 13) help us to pray to Him?Hide Answer
There are times when no one but God can help us. Not our friends, not our spouse, not our earthly father and mother. God “is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27). He is not apathetic to our needs. He is always ready to listen to us and help us. We can tell Him everything, and trust Him like a small child having complete faith in her parents. God loves us with a love that is purer and greater than the love of our earthly parents (Mt 7:11). His Holy Spirit lives in our hearts to guide and comfort us. Today, we too can cry to Him, “Abba, Father!” (Rom 8:15-16)
What was the Father’s answer to Jesus’ request to take the cup away? What does Jesus’ statement in 41-42 tell you about His response to the answer?Hide Answer
God the Father probably said to Jesus as He did to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” (2Cor 12:9). Through Jesus’ death, God would decisively defeat sin and death (1Cor 15:55-57). After praying three times, Jesus said to His disciples, “Rise, let us be going” (42), not “Rise, let us flee!” Once He knew God’s will, He took action to face the persecution.
How should you respond when God does not do as you requested?Hide Answer
If God’s answer is contrary to our wishes, we must still obey and act accordingly, just like Jesus did. We must believe in faith that He does not give us more than we can bear (1Cor 10:13). He loves us and makes all things work to our benefit (Rom 8:28).