Lesson 74

The Gospel According to Mark

World English Bible translation

14:1 It was now two days before the feast of the Passover and the unleavened bread, and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might seize him by deception, and kill him. 14:2 For they said, "Not during the feast, because there might be a riot of the people."  

Today's Lesson

This passage serves as a transition between the Olivet Discourse and Jesus' last dinner with friends in Bethany. Jesus had come to the city to participate in the Passover. He had ridden into the city to the adulation of the multitude. Jesus had cleared the temple of the moneychangers and merchants. Every major faction in the city that we are aware of had questioned Him, trying to make Jesus commit treason or blaspheme. Finally, Jesus had spoken to His own disciples about the future of Jerusalem and, toward the end of the discourse, the end of our age.


Now we have this transition. The chief priests and scribes want to have Jesus seized so that He may be killed. They wanted to take Him before the feast. Their reason for doing so can be taken in two ways. Perhaps they were concerned that if Jesus was arrested and held during the feast, there would be a "riot of the people." But, I think it is likely that what Mark is saying is that they were concerned that if Jesus remained free during the feast, there may be a riot from something that He did. This would make the most sense from what has gone before and from the actions that they took from this point on.


Why were they concerned about a riot? Jesus had shaken up the establishment when He had come into town. Not only had the people held a spontaneous demonstration when He had arrived, but the next day He had gone into the temple and driven out the moneychangers. Jesus did not play by their rules. He did not respect their authority. When He was questioned, He did not defer to them. He spoke with His own authority, independent of theirs.


Jesus had taught that the Kingdom of God was open to many people. He shared a dinner table with tax collectors and sinners. He had even healed and interacted with Gentiles. He had disagreements with the way that they observed the Sabbath. But, most of all, it was on the matter of personal authority that the chief priest and scribes disagreed strongly with Jesus.


Jesus had taught that He personally had the power to forgive sin. He had claimed a personal relationship with God the Father. He had claimed to be the Messiah and had taken over the messianic title of, "Son of Man." Jesus had taught and made assertions about matters for which He had no formal training.


Certainly some of them were only interested in their own positions. They saw Jesus as a threat and they sought to neutralize Him. But others thought that Jesus was a sincere threat to their service to God. Let us be clear, some of them thought that by putting Jesus to death they were doing precisely what God wanted them to do. It is not enough to be sincere. It is not enough to be well meaning. These men were wrong and even their sincerity would not mitigate their sin. These men were certain that they were serving God. But their certainty, like their sincerity, did not prevent them from becoming enemies of God's purpose.


Would you allow God to show you where even the things that your are certain of might be wrong? Is anything more important in your life than the personal authority of Jesus Christ?


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