Disciple – The Arrest
Caleb Campbell

“The Arrest” — sermon by Caleb Campbell, April 3, 2022

Good morning, church. My name is Caleb. I serve as one of the pastors here at Desert Springs. Today we’re going to continue in a series called Disciple. We’ll be looking at the Gospel of Mark Chapter 14. So, if you’re joining us here in the room today, if you have a Bible, turn to Mark Chapter 14.

Also, you should have it in the handout that you got on the way in today. For those of y’all joining us online, if you have a Bible, I’d encourage you to grab that. If you don’t, no problem, just go to bible.com. We’re using the Christian Standard version. Also, for those of you that maybe don’t own a Bible and would like one, we’ve got some available on the tables in the back. Please feel free to take one of those as our gift to you.

So today we’re going to break our habit a little bit. What we’ve been doing throughout this series is doing an extended reading of Scripture and then kind of noticing some things. We’re going to flip that around today. I’m going to go through the text Mark Chapter 14 verses 43 till the end. We’ll go through the text. I’m going to notice a bunch of stuff. Then we’re going to do an extended reading of Scripture. And actually, what I’m asking you to do is a hearing of Scripture. And then we’ll take communion together, and then we’ll conclude.

The reason that we’re going to do it this way is that my hope and prayer today for you, regardless of where you’re at — whether you’ve been following Jesus your whole life or you’re just curious about who Jesus is, trying to figure out what it means to follow Jesus. Maybe you’ve given up on Jesus, but you’re here to figure out if Jesus is s going to give us another shot … ***

** TV timeout. I just I love that. Do you know who Jesus says yes to? Anyone who wants Jesus, Jesus says yes to. And so, if you’re here today, Amen. He says yes to you. ***

So, regardless of where you’re at, my prayer for you is that you would have an experience with Jesus this morning — that, as the text is read, the Spirit would move in your heart and your imagination — that you would participate in this text today, especially as we gear up for Palm Sunday next week and then Easter the following week.

In order to do that, I’m going to ask you way in advance if you would get your community elements out. For those of you who are joining us online, grab something to represent the elements. If you’re going to take communion near the end, you just please prepare that? And you’ll know why we’re doing this right now. Would you just do the cellophane symphony for me today? By the way, for those of you who are frustrated with the cellophane symphony, I’m with you. We are working on ways to do it better, but here we are. So, if you would just prepare those elements so that when we get to communion, we don’t hear what we’re presently hearing right now? ***

*** Can we do a TV timeout quickly and tell you guys a funny story that’s completely irrelevant? Last year we were still kind of figuring out COVID stuff. This was Easter. This was Good Friday of last year. We gave sealed-up bags with juice and bread, and Kathy really did a great job putting that all together for us. But what we did with for the juice was to give it in cans. And then during Good Friday service, which was quite reflective and very peaceful, in the quiet of reflecting on the death and burial of Jesus, it was time to take communion. I said OK, would you please get your communion elements ready? And all you heard was like a beer commercial. And I remembered thinking, “We should have thought about this ahead of time.” So, this year we’re going to use Capri suns. ***.

OK, so let’s go Mark Chapter 14. One of the best tools for Bible study that we can deploy is noticing. I want to encourage you, regardless of your familiarity with the Bible, you have a tool that you can use anytime. I would encourage you to do so today, when you go home and read your whole Bible later today. Which you should do every day. As you read the Bible, the best tool to start with is just noticing. Allow the text to be weird. Allow it to be strange. Allow it to be confusing and just notice. And that’s a tool that you can use for the rest of your life. And so today what we’re going to do is we’re going to go through the text, and I hope to notice some things and hope that you notice some things, as well. Then we’ll read, we’ll hear the text together.

Jesus, at this point in time in the text, has gone the Garden of Gethsemane, where he’s prayed that the Lord would take the cup of wrath from Him. His disciples had failed to stay awake with Him, and now we’re at the tail end of the garden of Gethsemane scene with Jesus, where now Judas is going to come and take Him. This is where the text picks up. Verse 43:

“While He was still speaking, Judas, one of the 12 …” *** Timeout.

*** Judas’s last name is not “one of the 12.” Why does the author say one of the 12? What was the 12? Some of you may remember right? “The 12“ was a shorthand way to refer to Jesus’s inner circle. These were not all the disciples, I know. We sometimes say the 12 disciples, and they were disciples. There were many, many more disciples, but the twelve were like the inner circle. They were supposed to be the “homies.” Mark mentions that Judas was one of the 12 multiple times, not because we’re prone to forget. What he’s doing is digging in the knife of the betrayal we’re supposed to feel when we see one of the 12. We’re supposed to feel a deep betrayal. ***

“Judas, one of the twelve, came up accompanied by a crowd of with swords and clubs, who were the chief priests and scribes and the elders.” Just a few chapters before, in Chapter 11, there was a massive crowd welcoming Jesus in with palm branches. And now a crowd comes to Jesus with what? Swords and clubs. And they were from the chief priest, the scribes and the elders.

OK, so this kiss language, this idea of kissing is not romantic. It’s a signal or symbol of a deep friendship or a deep trust, a deep relationship. Is this ironic that He is betraying Jesus with an act of connection, an act of respect, an act of admiration? Is this ironic? This is deeply ironic, because really good friends greet each other with a kiss and remember, Judas was one of the inner circle.

Do you know what it’s like to be deeply wounded or betrayed by someone close to you? I want you to know that when you pray, you pray to a God who also experientially knows. God understands what you feel like in your guts. So, when he came, immediately he went up to Jesus. You’ve got the scene. Judas is coming to Jesus, and he said — notice the language — “Rabbi.” This is the knife being dug in. This is a deep betrayal.

They took hold of Him and arrested Him. One of those who stood by drew his sword, struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his ear.” Now I want you to notice the behavior. Someone who is with Jesus – I think it’s one of the disciples, I think it’s Peter — took his sword and struck and cut off his ear. OK, so notice.

When Jesus comes on the scene in the beginning of the Gospel of Mark, He says, behold, hey, everyone pay attention. The good news of the Kingdom of God is here. The good news, the gospel is that the Kingdom of God is near. Therefore, repent, turn from your sin and turn towards me. Repent, and believe in the gospel.

Then He goes to His disciples and says, “Follow me.” Jesus doesn’t say be a fan of mine. Jesus doesn’t necessarily say let me be your professor and you can be my student. He says, “Follow me.” Be my disciples, and I’ll be your rabbi. Discipleship is not only following the teachings of someone, but also the idea of being a disciple is also to be in relationship with the rabbi that you’re following. That’s why we keep using what sometimes could be considered an old-fashioned word, namely, disciple. There’s something about the relationship with the rabbi.

Jesus says to do what? Follow me now. Jesus came on the scene proclaiming the good news of what? The Kingdom of God. And when these disciples heard the word “kingdom,” do you know what they thought finally? Our nation, our people. Our people will finally reestablish our kingdom. They would call it the Kingdom of David, who used to be a king of Israel. They are expecting Jesus to kill the Romans and reestablish the kingdom, because He came proclaiming the Kingdom of God is here. And then he said, “Follow me.”

Throughout the Gospel of Mark, you will notice the disciples having a wrestling match with their assumptions about Jesus and how Jesus revealed Himself to be. Jesus consistently fails to live up to their messianic expectations. What do they want Jesus to do? Take out the sword and kill the bad guys?

But Jesus keeps saying stuff — look in chapters 8, 9 and 10. Three times Jesus says, “Look, we’re going to Jerusalem where I’m going to be betrayed and turned over into the hands of sinners. And then I’ll be crucified. And then I’m going to die. And then on the third day I’m going to rise again.”

And on all three of those occasions, the disciples are thinking, “No way, bro.” In fact, on all three of those occasions when they wrestle with this idea, it’s clear they don’t get it, because they ask Jesus if they get to be in power with Him. With the framework of the kingdoms of this world, they assume Jesus is coming to just give them another kingdom of this world.

Judas, I think — this is my conjecture, OK? I think Mark means us to recognize Judas is having a conversion experience when the woman came in and broke open the jar of perfume and anointed Jesus. It’s Judas who’s scoffing and talking, “Couldn’t we have done things differently?” I think in that moment we’re to see Judas turn and say, “This is not the type of Kingdom I want.” What was compelling Judas, one of the 12, to betray Jesus? I think it was because Jesus was not living up to his expectations. He was expecting a Rome Slayer.

I’m going to argue, I hope to prove it from the text, that’s what all the disciples think is happening to all of them. And here’s why. What is his reflex?

They come to take Jesus, who has been saying multiple times that He was going to be turned over into the hands of sinners. He says it multiple times and what’s their reflex? They are saying “all right, it’s time!” Right, finally a showdown.

OK. So, Peter drew his sword, struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his ear. Jesus said to them … oh man, this is so good — Have you come out with swords and clubs as if I were a … ***

*** Timeout. OK, this is so cool. Oh my gosh, the Bible is so awesome. OK, check this out. This word for criminal that’s translated in the CSV — some of your translations may say robber, but that’s not quite getting at it. Another way to translate it is a rebel. Or an insurrectionist. An insurrection is someone who wants to overthrow the powers that be. You guys with me so far? Someone who wants to overthrow the powers that be. There were previous messiahs who came in and said “I’m the promised one. I’m the anointed one. I’m the messiah,” and do you know what they tried to do? Kill the Romans. It’s totally normal for them to assume that Jesus is an insurrectionist. ***

Hang with me. Right, your ticket entitles you to your whole seat. But you’re only going to need the edge of it, because what we’re about to do is to show something that will blow your mind as it relates to Good Friday and Easter. Remember this word criminal. I’m going to use the word insurrectionist. Just to make it stick. Just to make it sharp.

OK, so Jesus says, “Have you come out with swords and clubs as if I were an insurrectionist?” What’s the assumption of the words “if I were” in that statement? That he’s not an insurrectionist. Then, on Good Friday, do you know that Jesus was crucified between two people? We know, actually, what they were being crucified for. Do you know what they’re being crucified for? It’s the same word. They were insurrectionists. Some translations will say thieves, but it’s the same word in Greek there. Do you think that people got crucified because they stole bread? The reason that you would get crucified by the Roman government is if you were a threat to whom? That’s why they crucified. The Romans wouldn’t waste all that energy crucifying you just for taking something. Right, crucifixion was a political move to say don’t mess with us. Jesus was crucified between two insurrectionists, and Jesus here is saying are you coming to me now?

Here’s the other one. Oh my gosh. This is going to get super nerdy. And some people are going to fall asleep, and when this is over, I want you to nudge them and wake them up and say we’re back.

In this text and elsewhere, Jesus is referred to as the Son of God. Yeah, this is the Rabbi trial. Jesus is referred to as the son of God frequently, and He calls God Father, or Abba? He actually refers to God as Abba. So, he’s the son of ABBA, right?

So, there’s this scene with Pilate, who’s a Roman official and doesn’t want to have Jesus killed. Passover had a tradition where they release a criminal. And then they bring up this criminal. Barabbas is how we usually translate it. But that’s interesting.

He’s actually going to be crucified with insurrectionist language. But you know what the people actually do? Pilate comes home and says, “Hey, who do you guys want? Jesus or Barabas?” And Barabas was going to be executed because he was a — you’re never going to guess — an insurrectionist. And you know what the people chanted. “Give us Barabas.”

What should we do with Jesus bar ABBA? Crucify Him now. Because he failed to meet their messianic expectations.

OK, I told you this was cool. OK watch this. This is the irony. Have you come at me as if I were an insurrectionist? And the answer is, “That is what we’re doing.” The irony is that’s who all of His followers want Him to be. He is being killed, being for being what He refuses to be.

Jesus is so cool. “Every day I was among you teaching in the temple and you didn’t arrest me, but the Scripture s must be fulfilled at this point.” Mary Healy, who’s a theologian, says that from this moment on in Mark Chapter 14, Jesus ceases to be the active agent. He now simply allows things to happen to Him. This is a moment where Jesus is no longer the one calling the shots. Jesus takes now a passive role in the rest of the narrative. In fact, Healy says this — she put it so well — that Jesus, the one who often laid His hands on the sick for healing, now in this moment and the rest of the narrative, the hands of men will be placed upon Him, not for healing, but for violence.

Let’s keep going. OK, remember what I’m trying to argue here. I think that that the followers of Jesus had a misunderstanding of who Jesus was and what He was teaching them. They were constantly frustrated and perplexed by Jesus, because He was not living up to their messianic expectations of what a messiah should be.

The disciples have previously shown great courage, willing to lay down their lives for Jesus, or at least their perception of who Jesus is. But now Jesus is confounding their expectations, and notice what they all do. They all deserted Him. I used to read this text just thinking, oh they were afraid to die. But these people have shown tremendous courage throughout the narrative. I don’t think it’s so much that they’re afraid to die. I think they’re afraid to die for a lost cause, a cause they no longer believe in.

Aside from Peter, you no longer hear about any of the 12 in the rest of the narrative. Jesus is completely alone, with the exception of three women disciples. Other than them, according to the narrative in Mark, He is completely abandoned.

Now watch this. It may be our tendency to think, “I would never betray my king. I would never abandon Jesus in His great hour of need.” I love this now. A certain young man wearing nothing but a linen cloth …“ Remember, I said we’re just going to notice some things. And if it’s weird, we’re just going to let it be weird. Remember I said that?

“A young man wearing nothing but a linen cloth was following Him. They caught hold of him, but he left the linen cloth behind and ran away”. Come on, it’s in the Bible. You can say it. Someone should say “nude.” As some would say, naked. Is this quite strange? It’s quite strange now.

Let’s see how Mark resolves it. Oh, he doesn’t. He just keeps going as if this is like the most normal thing. Some traditions hold that this is Mark inserting himself into the story — that Mark is the only one who could know that he ran away naked, because he was the last. And it could be that Mark — I’m 50-50 on that, but I kind of think that’s a neat idea. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. I don’t know. There’s nothing in the text to lead us to believe that it’s more. I think the author of Mark is doing something that he’s done before. I think this is a living parable. Like the cursing of the fig tree. I think this is a living parable. Notice who’s this person? A certain what young man who’s wearing nothing but a linen cloth. ***

** TV time out. At the time that Mark would have been heard in congregations like this, to the best of my understanding, at the ritual of baptism, they would have worn a linen robe. And nothing else. So it could be that Mark intends his hearers to see themselves in this kind of ambiguous figure. You don’t have to buy into that as just my opinion, but I’m compelled to think so. Because Mark does this frequently throughout the Gospel of Mark, where he’s intentionally ambiguous, inviting you to lean in and maybe to project yourself into the text. Even I myself would run away. Notice, what did Jesus call His disciples to do? Jesus keeps saying follow me, so there’s someone who’s following him. But they caught hold of him. And he left and ran away. Naked with nothing. ***

Let’s keep going. “They led Jesus away to the high priest and all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes assembled.” This is the last time we’re going to get a narrative with any of the 12, and it’s Peter. It doesn’t work out well. In fact, the knife of betrayal and abandonment just goes in even further. Mark here is going to do a sandwich. Some people call him the Mark the Sandwich, because he starts a story, injects a different story, and then concludes the first story. Right? He’s going to do that again with Peter, then Jesus, then Peter. So, watch this. I think we’re supposed to juxtapose Peter and Jesus, where Peter is faithless, and Jesus is faithful.

“Peter followed him at a distance …” So, what did Jesus say that He wanted us to do? Follow. And so, what’s Peter doing? Following Him how? Now remember that being a disciple means proximity — to be a follower of Jesus means a relationship with him, to be to be near to him. Peter up until this point in time has followed Jesus to the point where I think there’s occasion where Jesus gets exasperated with his always being around, you know. And now Peter is where? To my reading, this is the first time you get that language of Peter following at a distance. It could be that Peter is having a crisis of faith or a conversion experience. I don’t know.

Peter followed him at a distance right into the High Priest’s court. He was sitting with the servant at a distance, warming himself by a fire. And where’s Jesus? Jesus is bound and being tried by a kangaroo court. Jesus, in His greatest hour of need, is in complete isolation. And where’s Peter? He’s distant from Jesus, finding comfort by other means.

“The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin …” which is basically like — if you’ll pardon the anachronism, this is like City Hall. They had legal authority to have people arrested, to have people tried this? It’s 71 of the ruling elders, chief priests and scribes and whatnot.

Anyway, so the Sanhedrin, which is religious and political entity, “ … they were looking for testimony against Jesus to put Him to death. What did they want to do to Jesus? Kill him. They’re trying to do like a kangaroo court, right? They’re trying to find testimony against Jesus. “For many were giving false testimony against Him, and the testimonies did not agree. Some stood up and gave false testimony against Him stating we heard Him say ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days I will build another not made with hands.’”

OK, now watch this. Do you remember what most people messianics hoped for? Kill the Romans so we can reestablish our power. In their minds, the center of power in Jerusalem was the temple, not the palace. So, Jesus, having a conversation about tearing down the temple is not just a religious threat, it’s also a governmental, political and ethnic threat. Because the temple is like the National Cathedral and the White House merged into one. So, this tearing down of the temple is dangerous.

“Yet their testimony did not agree even on this. Then the high priest stood up before them all and questioned Jesus. ‘Don’t you have an answer to what these men are testifying against you?’ But Jesus kept silent and did not answer them.”

Jesus, up until this point of time in the Gospel of Mark has been either silent or coy about who He is. It’s frustrating. People will ask Him a straightforward question, and he will deflect… people would be like, hey, you’re the messiah and He’s kind of saying, “Don’t tell anybody.” Because Jesus does not want His messiahship, His anointed-ness, His Savior-ness … He does not want it to be misunderstood as simply conforming to what the majority of people wanted Him to be. Right now, Jesus is going to stop being silent and stop being coy and He’s going to directly answer the question. Because now He’s bound. He’s marching to the cross, and I think — if you’ll pardon me –I think in Jesus’s mind, He’s thinking there’s no way that they can be confused now. ***

*** OK. Come here, let’s huddle up. Lean in, yeah. I have to tell you something before we go on. I need you guys to know something, OK? Back in the Book of Exodus – everybody’s favorite book, go home and read it later. In the Book of Exodus, there’s this dude named Moses. You guys ever heard of Moses? So, Moses was going to lead God’s people out of Egypt. They were in captivity from Pharaoh. Pharaoh had a bunch of people killed, and Moses is kind of scared. And he talks to God after God says, “Lead my people out of Egypt.” And you know what Moses is nervous about? He is going to go back to these people and say God told me. “And we don’t even know your name.”

So, Moses says to God that he doesn’t know God’s name. He just says who? “Who should I tell them sent me?” You know what God says to him? He says, “Tell them I am who I am sent you.” He is who he is, or Yahweh. Tell them I am sent you. So, the name of God, according to Moses’s understanding, is “I am.” ***

OK, now back to the text. “’So don’t you have an answer to what these men are testifying against you?’ But Jesus kept silent.” This is the last time he’s going to keep silent in this interrogation. The high priest questioned Him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One? ‘And Jesus said, ‘I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power and coming with the clouds of Heaven.’”

Here, Jesus intentionally – boom! — lays it down, and I will prove it to you. I’ll prove it to you that that’s exactly what He meant to happen.

“You will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of power.” This is Psalms language. This is Daniel language that speaks of God and coming with the clouds of heaven, which is where who lives? God. Right then the high priest tore his robes, and said, “Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard this.”

Here now Jesus finally comes out with it. Notice at which part in the story Jesus reveals his divinity. What kind of a messiah is He? Notice He didn’t do it at the feeding of the 5000. He didn’t do it at the raising of Lazarus. He didn’t do it when He was teaching in the synagogue.

“They condemned Him as deserving death. Then some began to spit on Him, blindfold Him and beat Him with their fists, and to saying ‘Prophesy!’ Even the temple servants took Him, slapped Him.”

Now we’re going back to Peter, the second part of Mark’s sandwich. “While Peter was in the courtyard below, one of the high priests’ maid servants came and saw Peter warming himself.” Yeah, he’s comfy and cozy when he’s warming himself on the fire. “She looked at him and said, “You also were with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.’”

Some of you have felt this, and I certainly don’t mean to trample. If I go to Starbucks, and say, “I’d like a coffee please,” and they say, “You’re nothing to me.” Well, how do I feel? Weird. OK, I’ll just go to the other coffee place.” That’s strange. But if someone who is in my inner circle says to me, “You’re nothing to me. I don’t even know you how.” How might that make me feel?

So, notice what Peter is saying here. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t know Jesus.” Here’s the irony. I don’t think Peter did understand. I think Peter is having a conversion experience. I think Peter’s faith in a political messiah is crumbling in this moment.

“’I don’t understand what you’re talking about.’ Then he went out to the entryway, and a rooster crowed. Then the maidservant saw him again. She began to tell those standing nearby, ‘This man is one of them.’” But again, remember where’s Jesus? Mark seems to want us to think these things are happening simultaneously.

“’This man is one of them.’ Those standing there said to Peter again, ‘You certainly are one of them, since you’re also a Galilean.’ Then he started to curse and swear. ‘I do not know this man you are talking about.’ Immediately a rooster crowed a second time, and Peter remembered when Jesus had spoken the words of him, ‘Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.’ And he broke down and wept.” And this is the last time we see Peter in the Gospel of Mark. This is the last time we see any of the 12 in the Gospel of Mark.

Jesus is completely isolated in this narrative. Betrayed and alone, with the exception of three women who had followed Him faithfully.