As we journey through the Witness of Mark, we want to encourage you to first begin with the Daily Reading that will take you through the entire book of Mark. Then, read the First 15 Scripture and Reflection to dive a little deeper into verses from the Daily Reading.
Today's daily reading is: Mark 14:1-26
While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.”
They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?”
I once heard a story about one of my heroes in ministry who, at the conclusion of a staff meeting, rose from his chair and announced, “All of you are doing a great job, except one.” He then took his things and left the room.
The staff members, stunned, said to one another, “Surely not I?”
We have come to the point in Mark where Jesus approaches his cross. The time remaining is short. In Mark 14:12-26 Jesus gathers his disciples to celebrate the Passover. In the Passover celebration, the Jews remember, retell, and reenact God’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt, and as part of the festival, they observe a ritual meal.
Jesus plans to celebrate the Passover with his disciples in accordance with custom, and sends two of his followers into the city to secure a location for the meal. Jesus enters the city with the Twelve when evening came. They make their way to a large upper room that had been prepared for them. As they observe the meal, Jesus announces that he will be betrayed by one of his inner circle.
They are saddened. They all asked, “Surely you don’t mean me?” There is no speculation. No one points at Judas and says, “I knew it!” The identity of the betrayer remains a mystery. The Twelve had all preached the kingdom, cast out demons, and healed others in Jesus’ name. No clues had been given, no obvious signs of mutiny observed. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Even Judas went forth to the Christ-work, and the fact that he did so will always be a dark riddle and an awful warning” (Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, 205). All asked, ‘Surely not I?”
Jesus assures the Twelve he is being truthful, saying the betrayer is “one who dips bread into the bowl with me.” Jesus has dark words for his betrayer, saying it would’ve been better if that man had not been born. But then Jesus takes bread, gives thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples and said, “Take it; this is my body.” He did likewise with the cup, saying, “This is the blood of the new covenant which is poured out for many.” Jesus takes familiar symbols from an ancient story of God’s deliverance from slavery and infuses them with new meaning, new significance as God brings about new redemption through the body and blood of Jesus.
This is a dark moment, a difficult moment, in Mark’s story. But it is also a powerful moment, a moment where we plainly see God’s unceasing, furious, and unrelenting love. Jesus will be betrayed by one of his closest associates, and yet he presses on to fulfill his vocation, going to the cross to enact a new covenant by way of his body and his blood.
When Jesus announced he would be betrayed the disciples said, “Surely you don’t mean me?” We aren’t excluded. We are fallible, like Judas. We could fail Jesus, betray him. It would be far better not to do so. In Philippians 1:27, Paul writes, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”
May we never betray him. May we live our lives worthy of Jesus. Always.
Father, I am fallible. I ask that you would give me the grace needed to always be faithful to your purposes. I repent of sin and renounce all evil. I turn from wickedness and desire to walk in the way of holiness. Lead me in the way of Christ, keeping me and guiding me according to the calling I have in him. Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.