Gethsemane Arrest: Mark 14:32-52

Day 35
Monday in Holy Week,
March 26, 2018
“Gethsemane Arrest”
Mark 14:32-52

 Off he goes to pray in Gethsemane. (It’s not a garden yet in Mark) 

 He takes the 3 insiders, who witness him getting agitated – he admits he is grieved to death – and tells them to stay sharp while he goes a bit further. Jesus prays, according to Mark, to be relieved of this fate – that God, Abba, remove this cup – yet not what I want, but what you want. 

 Now, he is all alone, eh, so how does Mark get the exact quote on this one? Again, this is the omniscient narrator building a story.

Then Jesus goes back to the 3, and finds them asleep – just as they were ordered and asked not to do – and just as they were predicted to do. Can’t you manage this much – pray you won’t come to such a time of trial – the connection is to the trials that they, and we in turn, face, as much as Jesus’. 

Another aphorism, a keeper: ‘the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak’. Jesus goes off and prays the same words.

 Again, he’s alone – so who does the transcript to prove it’s the same words in prayer? 

Again he finds the 3 lads sleeping – and finally a third time when he accuses them of taking their rest – enough, time’s up, the hour has come, the betrayer at hand – let’s go. They weren’t ready. They didn’t understand. They were not alert. It happened anyhow. Ain’t it ever so? 

Immediately – that Mark word again for picking up the pace – Judas kisses him – another follower draws a sword and cuts off the ear of a slave of the high priest – Jesus points out that they could have done this at the temple in public. Then everybody runs. 

 Notice how much is missing, that we hear in other gospels: Malchus’ ear is not healed – Jesus does not tell the disciples to stop fighting – he doesn’t speak directly to Judas about betraying with a kiss…. 

‘A certain young man’ wearing only a linen cloth runs off, but they grab his cloth and he has to escape naked. I have only recently slowed down enough to notice that the word for ‘linen cloth’ is the same as one at the tomb, translated as a ‘shroud’.  

This, tradition has said, was ‘Mark’, the naked escapee. The gospel does not say so… or much of the operatic heroism that we want.  Perhaps escaping with the skin of your teeth, giving up everything, is our participation route to live on another day, too!


They went to a place called Gethsemane; 
and he said to his disciples, 
‘Sit here while I pray.’

 He took with him
Peter and James and John,
 and began to be distressed and agitated. 

 And he said to them, 
‘I am deeply grieved, 
even to death; 
remain here, 
and keep awake.’ 

 And going a little farther,
 he threw himself on the ground
and prayed that, 
if it were possible, 
the hour might pass from him. 

 He said, 
‘Abba, Father, 
for you all things are possible; 
remove this cup from me; 
yet, not what I want, 
but what you want.’ 

 He came and found them sleeping; 
and he said to Peter, 
 ‘Simon, are you asleep? 
Could you not keep awake one hour? 

Keep awake
and pray
that you may not come
into the time of trial; 
the spirit indeed is willing, 
but the flesh is weak.’ 

And again he went away and prayed, 
saying the same words. 
And once more he came
and found them sleeping, 
for their eyes were very heavy; 
and they did not know
what to say to him. 

He came a third time
and said to them, 
‘Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? 
Enough! 

The hour has come; 
the Son of Man is betrayed
into the hands of sinners.

 Get up, let us be going.
 See, my betrayer is at hand.’

 Immediately, 
while he was still speaking, 
Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; 
and with him there was a crowd
with swords and clubs, 
from the chief priests, 
the scribes, 
and the elders. 

 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, 
‘The one I will kiss is the man; 
arrest him and lead him away under guard.’

So when he came, 
he went up to him at once
and said, 
‘Rabbi!’ 
and kissed him. 

Then they laid hands on him and arrested him. 

But one of those who stood near drew his sword
and struck the slave of the high priest, 
cutting off his ear. 

Then Jesus said to them, 
‘Have you come out with swords and clubs
to arrest me as though I were a bandit? 

Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, 
and you did not arrest me. 
But let the scriptures be fulfilled.’ 

All of them deserted him and fled. 
A certain young man was following him, 
wearing nothing but a linen cloth. 

They caught hold of him, 
but he left the linen cloth
and ran off naked.