Sunday October 8th
There were these two Country Boys who were best friends, Cletus and Bubba. One day Cletus walked into Bubba's barn and caught him dancing around buck naked in front of his tractor.
Cletus said, "Bubba, what the heck are ya doing?"
Bubba said, "Well you know that girl Mary Lou who lives over by Zeke’s farm?”
Cletus said, “Yeah, what about her?”
Bubba said, “Well, I kinda like her.”
Cletus said, “Okay, but what’s that have to do with you dancing around the barn in your birthday suit?”
Bubba said, “Well, I was watching one of those relationship shows on TV and they said that if you like a girl, and you want her to like you back…
You have to act sexy to a tractor."
Speaking of running around naked – we see a bit of naked running here in Mark chapter 14, verses 51 and 52.
This happens right after Jesus has been arrested:
51 A young man was following Him, wearing nothing but a linen sheet over his naked body; and they seized him. 52 But he pulled free of the linen sheet and escaped naked.
This is the only time in any of the Gospels that this incident is mentioned.
The question is: why? Why is this only mentioned by Mark?
Well, the general consensus among scholars is that this naked young man… is Mark - the same Mark that wrote this book.
This kind of thing, where the author of a book puts himself anonymously into the story, was quite common. For example John did the same thing in the Gospel of John. John always speaks of himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. He NEVER uses his own name.
So what is Mark telling us here?
He’s telling us he ran away.
And why is he telling us this?
In order to understand that we need to consider another interesting thing about Mark. Some scholars believe that Mark was possibly Peter’s son, which might explain why he was in the Garden of Gethsemane in the first place.
If so, he might be admitting his own cowardice before pointing out Peter’s cowardice later in the chapter. That way Peter (his father) doesn’t look so bad.
So let’s see how this all leads to Peter’s moment of shame:
53 They led Jesus away to the high priest; and all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes gathered together. 54 Peter had followed Him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the officers and warming himself at the fire.
Even though Peter, along with the rest of the disciples, had run away, at least he chose to tag along into the courtyard of the high priest. This supposed trial took place in the high priest’s residence rather than at court. There were a lot of rules that the Jewish leaders broke in order to rush this trial through. Not only was the setting improper, they had also tried to gather up false witnesses against Jesus:
55 Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, and they were not finding any. 56 For many were giving false testimony against Him, but their testimony was not consistent. 57 Some stood up and began to give false testimony against Him, saying, 58 “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.’” 59 Not even in this respect was their testimony consistent.
Deuteronomy 19:15 required that for someone to be declared guilty there must be corroborating witnesses.
“A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.”
If someone was found to be a false witnesses, they would receive the same punishment that the accused person was threatened with. Obviously, these standards were not applied in the case of Jesus.
What’s interesting is that one of the accusations had some truth to it. They claim that Jesus said, “I will destroy this temple that is made with hands.” In John 2:19 Jesus actually tells them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” But he isn’t talking about the Jewish temple. He is talking about the temple of his own body, which he will raise back up in three days.
Eventually the high priest grows tired of waiting for the false witnesses to get their stories straight, so he asks Jesus a direct question:
60 The high priest stood up and came forward and questioned Jesus, saying, “Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?” 61 But He kept silent and did not answer. Again the high priest was questioning Him, and saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”
The word Christ means the “anointed one.” “Messiah” is the Hebrew word with the same meaning. When the High Priest asks are you the “Son of the Blessed One”, that phrase is simply a substitute for “God”.
This is important for two reasons:
62 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.”
Instead of just answering yes, Jesus says “I am”, which is the name that God used for himself when Moses asked him what to call him.
Then Jesus repeats the phrase that he used in Mark 13:26 “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.”
At this point the High Priest goes ballistic:
63 Tearing his clothes, the high priest said, “What further need do we have of witnesses? 64 You have heard the blasphemy; how does it seem to you?” And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death. 65 Some began to spit at Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him with their fists, and to say to Him, “Prophesy!” And the officers received Him with slaps in the face.
Okay, a couple of things here. Why did the High Priest tear his garments? In Jewish culture this was a symbolic gesture expressing great sorrow or horror.
In Ezra 9:3 we see Ezra doing the same thing:
“When I heard about this matter, I tore my garment and my robe.”
The High Priest declares that they don’t need any more witnesses, because the whole Sanhedrin has just witnessed Jesus’ blasphemy.
The punishment for blasphemy was death by stoning.
Leviticus 24:16 “Moreover, the one who blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall certainly stone him.”
But since Israel was a conquered nation, only a Roman court could order capital punishment, so Jesus would have to die by a Roman punishment of death by crucifixion rather than by stoning.
There is also a reason why some of the Sanhedrin members began to spit on him. Spitting in the face indicated that a person was being excluded from the group. And they wanted no association with Jesus.
Numbers 12:14 But the Lord said to Moses, “If her father had but spit in her face, would she not bear her shame for seven days? Let her be shut up for seven days outside the camp, and afterward she may be received again.”
All of this leads us back to our friend Peter:
66 As Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came, 67 and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Nazarene.” 68 But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you are talking about.” And he went out onto the porch. 69 The servant-girl saw him, and began once more to say to the bystanders, “This is one of them!” 70 But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders were again saying to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean too.”71 But he began to curse and swear, “I do not know this man you are talking about!” 72 Immediately a rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had made the remark to him, “Before a rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” And he began to weep.
For a proper perspective on this shocking turn of events, let’s go back to Luke 22:31-34 where Jesus tells Peter:
"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."
But he replied, "Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death."
Jesus answered, "I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me."
I don't know about you, but if I had been warned by Jesus that Satan was asking to sift me like wheat, I hope that I would listen carefully to that warning.
But as we know, Peter was just a little bit prideful, so he didn’t exactly heed the warning.
In fact, instead of being on guard against Satan’s attack, Peter ended up taking a nap! We saw that last week in Mark 14:32-38:
They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray." He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," he said to them. "Stay here and keep watch."
Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. "Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."
Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Simon," he said to Peter, "are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."
There’s a second warning! “Watch and pray, Peter, or you are going to fall!”
Does Peter heed this second warning? Absolutely not! Look at verses 39 and 40
39 Again He went away and prayed, saying the same words. 40 And again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to answer Him.
So Peter ignores the warning at the last supper, then he ignores the warning in the Garden of Gethsemane. And as can be expected when we ignore God’s warnings, he stumbles into denying that he even knows Jesus – not once, but three times!
Keep in mind that in Luke 22:32 Jesus told Peter, “And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."
Which means that Jesus knew that Peter would fall, but he also knew that by God’s grace Peter would get back up again! And NOW Peter has learned a little about the devil! So look what he writes in 1 Peter 5:8 –
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Peter finally learned that you can’t take the devil lightly. You can’t ignore the reality that Satan desires to devour you and destroy your Christian walk. But you also don’t have to let him defeat you!
Listen to this interesting story that I found:
In the United States, mountain lions are actually regarded as the number one human predator. More people are attacked by mountain lions than by any other wild animal.
This is a true story. A man was doing research on the mountain lions in the Arizona Wilderness. As he approached a water hole from downwind, he spotted a mountain lion drinking water. The lion didn’t notice him. When it had finished drinking, it walked away slowly into a cluster of trees.
After a few minutes, the man walked down to the water hole to identify the lion’s tracks in the mud. Just before he bent down to look closer, he scanned the perimeter, and there among the trees, 30 feet away, he saw a pair of eyes. He expected the lion to turn and run away, but it walked straight into the sunlight toward him. He pulled out his knife and stared into the eyes of the lion. He knew what he had to do. More importantly, he knew what not to do. He knew that mountain lions are able to take down animals seven or eight times their size. Their method is always the same - attack from behind, clamp down onto the spine at the base of the prey's skull, and snap the spinal cord.
The man wrote this in his own words:
I held firm to my ground and did not indicate that I would back off. If I ran, it was certain death. I would have a mountain lion all over me. If I gave it my back, I would only briefly feel its weight on me against the ground. Then its teeth would rip open my vertebrae from behind.
The mountain lion begins to move to my left, and I turn, keeping my face on it, my knife at my right side. It paces to my right, trying to get around on my other side, to get behind me. I turn right, staring at it….My stare is about the only defense I have.
I maintained that defense as the mountain lion continued to try to provoke me to run, turning left, then right, back and forth again and again, until he was just ten feet away. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the standoff ended. The lion simply turned and walked away.
It had been defeated by a man who knew what never to do in its presence.
Do you see what this tells us about fighting our adversary, the devil?
We can’t turn our backs on him. We can’t turn and run. We have to stand firm and be ready to fight.
James 4:7 tells us to:
Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
Just like that mountain lion, the devil will back down if you face him head on and resist his temptations. But if you turn your back, he’ll pounce.
You can take Peter’s word for it. He found out the hard way!