Maundy Thursday

First Communion, 3 April 2022

First Communion
Series—Mark: The Real Jesus
Mark 14:12-72
Series Big Idea: Mark’s gospel is the most concise biography of Jesus.
Big Idea: Be on guard! Be alert! Keep watch!
Scripture Readers’ Theater
Did anything surprise you about that reading…besides the length?!
Holy Week is right around the corner. For those of you unfamiliar with that expression, it’s essentially the last week of Jesus’ life…before the Resurrection! It begins with Palm Sunday, events described back in Mark chapter eleven and traditionally celebrated next Sunday.
Our scripture passage today covers what’s known as
Maundy Thursday, the last supper and the day before Good Friday, our subject for next Sunday’s sermon. That day, of course, while good for us is the most horrific day for Jesus. But we’ll save that for next Sunday.
Our text today is a preview…preparation for Jesus’ death. While Jesus is the central figure, there are many other characters in the story, most notably Judas, Peter, and the high priest, none of whom are particularly admirable!
We could go verse by verse and dissect every word—which would take some time—but today I want you to get a feel of the narrative, the big picture. It’s a haunting story. A soundtrack composer working on a screenplay of this writing would fill the score with minor chords, dark tones, and heavy textures. This is anything but a party, and each scene gets progressively more hostile and terrifying.
You know the rest of the story, but what if you didn’t? Jesus told his friends repeatedly what would happen, but they failed to comprehend it, no doubt surprised at his arrest and crucifixion, to say nothing of the resurrection. Let’s look at the various scenes.
The Last Supper (Mark 14:12-25)
Mark 14:12               On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go to prepare the Passover meal for you?”
Mark 14:13               So Jesus sent two of them into Jerusalem with these instructions: “As you go into the city, a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 At the house he enters, say to the owner, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ 15 He will take you upstairs to a large room that is already set up. That is where you should prepare our meal.” 16 So the two disciples went into the city and found everything just as Jesus had said, and they prepared the Passover meal there.
Mark 14:17               In the evening Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 As they were at the table eating, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, one of you eating with me here will betray me.”
Mark 14:19               Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one?”
Mark 14:20               He replied, “It is one of you twelve who is eating from this bowl with me. 21 For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!”
Mark 14:22               As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take it, for this is my body.”
Mark 14:23               And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice for many. 25 I tell you the truth, I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new in the Kingdom of God.”
Mark 14:26               Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.
Mark 14:27    On the way, Jesus told them, “All of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say,
Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial
‘God will strike the Shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.’
Mark 14:28    But after I am raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.”
Mark 14:29               Peter said to him, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.”
Mark 14:30               Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.”
Mark 14:31               “No!” Peter declared emphatically. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the others vowed the same.
Jesus Prays in Gethsemane
Mark 14:32               They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.” 33 He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. 34 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
Mark 14:35               He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. 36 “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
Mark 14:37               Then he returned and found the disciples asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? 38 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
Mark 14:39               Then Jesus left them again and prayed the same prayer as before. 40 When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. And they didn’t know what to say.
Mark 14:41               When he returned to them the third time, he said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But no—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”
Jesus Is Betrayed and Arrested
Mark 14:43               And immediately, even as Jesus said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders. 44 The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss. Then you can take him away under guard.” 45 As soon as they arrived, Judas walked up to Jesus. “Rabbi!” he exclaimed, and gave him the kiss.
Mark 14:46               Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. 47 But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, slashing off his ear.
Mark 14:48               Jesus asked them, “Am I some dangerous revolutionary, that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? 49 Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there among you teaching every day. But these things are happening to fulfill what the Scriptures say about me.”
Mark 14:50               Then all his disciples deserted him and ran away. 51 One young man following behind was clothed only in a long linen shirt. When the mob tried to grab him, 52 he slipped out of his shirt and ran away naked.
Jesus before the Council
Mark 14:53               They took Jesus to the high priest’s home where the leading priests, the elders, and the teachers of religious law had gathered. 54 Meanwhile, Peter followed him at a distance and went right into the high priest’s courtyard. There he sat with the guards, warming himself by the fire.
Mark 14:55               Inside, the leading priests and the entire high council were trying to find evidence against Jesus, so they could put him to death. But they couldn’t find any. 56 Many false witnesses spoke against him, but they contradicted each other. 57 Finally, some men stood up and gave this false testimony: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this Temple made with human hands, and in three days I will build another, made without human hands.’” 59 But even then they didn’t get their stories straight!
Mark 14:60               Then the high priest stood up before the others and asked Jesus, “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?” 61 But Jesus was silent and made no reply. Then the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”
Mark 14:62               Jesus said, “I AM. And you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Mark 14:63               Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror and said, “Why do we need other witnesses? 64  You have all heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?”
            “Guilty!” they all cried. “He deserves to die!”
Mark 14:65               Then some of them began to spit at him, and they blindfolded him and beat him with their fists. “Prophesy to us,” they jeered. And the guards slapped him as they took him away.
Peter Denies Jesus
Mark 14:66               Meanwhile, Peter was in the courtyard below. One of the servant girls who worked for the high priest came by 67 and noticed Peter warming himself at the fire. She looked at him closely and said, “You were one of those with Jesus of Nazareth.”
Mark 14:68               But Peter denied it. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, and he went out into the entryway. Just then, a rooster crowed.
Mark 14:69               When the servant girl saw him standing there, she began telling the others, “This man is definitely one of them!” 70  But Peter denied it again.
            A little later some of the other bystanders confronted Peter and said, “You must be one of them, because you are a Galilean.”
Mark 14:71               Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know this man you’re talking about!” 72  And immediately the rooster crowed the second time.
         Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind:
“Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he broke down and wept. (NLT)

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