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Bible: What Does Mark 14 Teach Us About Events Preceding Jesus' Crucifixion?

Updated on September 15, 2016

Mary Anoints Jesus


Three Hundred Denarii

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Jesus Visits Simon the Leper

Instead of inserting transitional clauses and then quoting Jesus, as Matthew does, Mark merely paraphrases His statement regarding the arrival of the days of Passover celebration in two days; he also does not record Christ’s prediction of His crucifixion (v. 1; cf. Mt. 26: 2).

[Ryrie provides a good summary of the details of this Jewish feast day (New Testament Study Bible, 94).]

[Note also that Mark does not discuss any of the particulars of Matthew 25.]

In addition, Mark omits details of the location of the Jewish leaders’ meeting (“the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas”) [Mt. 26:3].

Jesus visits Simon the leper of Bethany, and a woman— Mary, of that same town, sister of Martha and Lazarus (cf. John 12:3)—breaks a flask of spikenard, and anoints Him, i.e., pours it over His head (v. 3).

[Matthew mentions nothing about her breaking the flask.

What was the significance of this action?

Did Mary intend to use the entire contents, perhaps meaning it for Jesus’ burial alone?]

Commenting on this “waste,” Peter remembers that Judas had cited the cost of the oil at “three hundred denarii”; Matthew merely records that the oil would have brought in “much” (v. 5; cf. Mt. 26:9).

[Was Peter correcting Judas’ estimation when the former told Mark to write “more than three hundred denarii?]

Small differences—omissions and additions in both accounts—continue to surface regarding apostolic reaction and Jesus’ exact words.

Mark mentions sharp apostolic criticism; Matthew does not (v. 5).

Mark adds the following comments of Jesus:

“Let her alone”;

“whenever you wish you can do [the poor] good”;

“She has done what she could.

She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial” (vv. 6a, 7b, 8).

Matthew omits most of these comments, and phrases the last idea differently, viz., “In pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial” (cf. 26:12).

Preachers will mention Mary’s good deed in memoriam (v. 9).

Judas Departs the Supper


Judas Iscariot

Mark characteristically avoids incidental dialogue, leaving unrecorded Judas’ request for blood money (cf. Mt. 26:15 for the traitor’s words.

See also 14:1 and Mt. 26:2), but indicates the chief priests’ delight with the deal (v. 11)—something that Matthew does not disclose.

Another fascinating difference finds Mark’s chief priests promising to give Judas money (v. 11), whereas Matthew’s leaders actually weighing out thirty pieces of silver (26:15).

[Perhaps they counted it out to him, and then promised to give it to him later?]

The Passover


A Type of Judas Iscariot

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The Passover and the "Last Supper"

More evidence that Mark wrote for people unfamiliar with Jewish customs follows:

(1) He records that they sacrificed the Passover lamb on the first day of Unleavened Bread (v. 12; cf. Mt. 26:17 for no explanatory note);

(2) He indicates that the apostles would meet a man “carrying a pitcher of water”—a task that Jewish women usually did (94) [v. 13];

(3) Mark’s Jesus says nothing to the man about His time being at hand (Mt. 26:18), but He does instruct the apostles to ask the “master of the house” where the guest room is (v. 14), and does inform them that the man will show them a “large upper room, furnished and prepared” (v. 15).

Perhaps Mark found it necessary to share these details because Peter felt that they added more intimate substance to this special night.

At supper, Mark’s Jesus prophesies His coming betrayal by one “who eats with Me”; interestingly, Matthew omits this fact about which David had written (v. 18; cf. Ps. 41:9. Ahithophel was a type of Judas).

This betrayer is “one of the twelve, who dips with Me in the dish” (v. 20).

[Cf. Matthew 26:23 for slightly different wording.

Matthew also identifies Judas; Mark leaves this admission out.]

Few, but significant, differences exist between Matthew’s and Mark’s accounts of the institution of the Lord’s Supper (vv. 22-26; cf. Mt. 26:26-30).

First, Mark again reports actions taken upon Jesus’ unrecorded words (“and they all drank from it”) [v. 23], while Matthew documents what He spoke, “Drink from it, all of you” (v. 27).

Second, Matthew notes that the blood is shed for the remission of the sins of many (26:28); Mark does not refer to the purpose of the bloodshed (v. 24).

Third, Matthew substitutes “My Father’s kingdom” (v. 29) for Mark’s “kingdom of God” (v. 25).

Likewise, Jesus’ prediction of Peter’s denial contains only accidental changes (vv. 27-31; cf. 26:31-35).

Of most importance is Mark’s specifying the number of times the rooster crows (v. 30) [“twice”] as opposed to Matthew’s not citing a definite number.

In addition, the former (probably at Peter’s insistence) writes that the apostle “spoke more vehemently” (v. 31)—something the latter omits (26:35).

Focusing on notable differences, we again see Mark paraphrasing Jesus.

In verse 35, he includes in a content clause—“that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him”—what Matthew records as Jesus’ actual words (almost)—“if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me” (26:39).

Mark’s Jesus also includes the Aramaic family term of affection—“Abba,”—the assertion “all things are possible for You,” and the forceful “Take this cup away from Me” (v. 36); Matthew omits these additions.

Peter Defends the Lord


Peter recalls a poignant, personal moment in Gethsemane.

Singling him out, Jesus calls the apostle “Simon,” (not Peter, “rock”), perhaps to enlighten him about his inability to watch with Him for one hour (v. 37).

Mark, on his part, seems less unforgiving of Peter, because he records that all eleven “did not know what to answer” Jesus when He caught them sleeping again (v. 40).

Later, when inscribing Judas’ instructions to the “great multitude with swords and clubs,” Mark perhaps betrays a certain sympathy for the traitor, adding Judas’ tender exhortation, “lead Him away safely” to show that the wayward apostle sincerely cared for His welfare (v. 44).

Again, Peter castigates himself, calling himself “one of those who stood by” while the soldiers led Jesus away (v. 47); Matthew assumes a far more gracious tone, designating him as “one of those who were with Jesus” (26:51).

Perhaps before healing Malchus’ ear (cf. Lk. 22:51; Jn. 18:10), Jesus not only warns Peter about the outcome of even defensive violence, but also informs him about the unlimited power at His disposal and of the necessity of His death to fulfill Scripture (26:52-54).

Only Matthew records these assertions; Mark moves immediately from Peter’s attack to Jesus’ address to the “multitudes” (vv. 48-49).

Finally, before delineating the details of Jesus’ first “trial,” Mark records his own shameful flight to safety (vv. 51-52).

The Jewish Ruling Body


Jesus Before the Sanhedrin

Mark and Matthew present the Lord’s Sanhedrin trial with several significant differences between them—some more significant than others.

First, Mark mentions that “all the chief priests” met with the elders and the scribes at Caiaphas’ residence; Matthew says nothing about other chief priests being present (v. 53).

Second, Peter mentions to Mark the personal detail that he “warmed himself at the fire” while awaiting the trial’s verdict (v. 54); Matthew, of course, does not.

Third, while Matthew awkwardly repeats himself in the same verse that the council “found none” (26:60), i.e., credible witnesses, Mark cogently explains that “their testimonies did not agree,” i.e., were not consistent (v. 56; see Ex. 20:16; Deut. 19:15; and Ryrie [New Testament Study Bible, 97]).

Fourth, it appears that Mark reports one way the two false witnesses testified, and Matthew records a shorter version.

The table below sets forth the two statements:

“I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days” (26:61).
“I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands” (v. 58)

Jesus' "Crime" Against the "State"

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The differences are real.

Then again, Mark does assert that “not even then did their testimony agree” (v. 59).

Fifth, since Matthew’s Jewish readership would better appreciate the gravity of the situation when they see the inquisitor putting Jesus under oath, the apostle includes this high drama (26:63); Mark, however, omits the reference (v. 61).

Sixth, Mark’s Jesus responds briefly and more clearly (for those not reared on Jewish idiom) to the query into His messianic claim than does Matthew’s: “I am” [v. 62] as opposed to “It is as you said” (26:64).

Matthew’s Jesus appears a bit wordier also (“Nevertheless, I say to you hereafter . . . “) [26:64].

Seventh, Matthew again repeats a term—blasphemy—(26:65), perhaps indicating the agitated confusion existing at this moment in the trial; Mark’s account sounds a little less emotional (v. 64).

Eighth, as is his wont, Mark paraphrases a statement that Matthew considers a direct quote, viz., “And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death” (v. 64b), and “He is deserving of death” (26:66).

Finally, Mark’s Jewish leaders blindfold Jesus, spit on Him, and mock him with a single word, “Prophesy!” (v. 65); Jesus’ persecutors in Matthew spit in His face and specifically ask Him to “prophesy” who struck Him (26:68).

[This latter incident assumes that they have blindfolded Jesus, but Matthew does not explicitly state the fact.]

Again, the interpreter can attribute these changes to stylistic differences and authorial purpose.

The Apostle Peter


Peter's Three Denials

Matthew and Mark present their record of Peter’s triple denial of Jesus with some substantial differences.

First, Mark adds that Peter was “below” in the courtyard “warming himself” when the servant girl of the high priest identified him (vv. 66-67); Matthew, not having Peter as an eyewitness, is far less explicit.

Second, a first rooster crow follows Peter’s first denial which, incidentally, treats the denial more fully than does Matthew’s record (v. 68; cf. 26:70).

Third, Mark seems to indicate that the same servant girl saw the apostle a second time (v. 69), but Matthew reports that he caught another girl’s attention by the gateway (26:71).

In addition, the servant girl’s words vary from Mark to Matthew—“This is one of them” (v. 69) to “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth”—the same expression the first girl used (26:71; cf. 26:69).

Fourth, interestingly, while Mark again paraphrases (“But he denied it again”), Matthew pens that Peter replied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!” (26:72).

Fifth, the bystanders now gather around the apostle and finger him as “one of them,” i.e., a Galilean, recognizing Peter’s accent (v. 70); Matthew merely mentions Peter’s speech, but not its peculiar origin (26:73).

Sixth, Mark’s second rooster now crows; Matthew takes note of only one (v. 72; cf. 26:74-75).

Finally, Mark records that Peter thought about Jesus’ prophecy before breaking down in tears (v. 72); Matthew says nothing about Peter’s mental processes, but does recount that he wept bitterly (26:75).

© 2014 glynch1


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    • glynch1 profile image

      glynch1 3 years ago

      I understand better. Thanks.

    • Rodric29 profile image

      Rodric Johnson 3 years ago from Peoria, Arizona

      By clinical I mean precise and unencumbered with opinion and speculation past what is necessary to correlate the work. There are not unturned stones or missing bits of information and you remain true to the record.

    • glynch1 profile image

      glynch1 3 years ago

      I am not quite sure what you are saying. You have omitted a few words that I need for understanding. What, for instance, do you mean by the word "clinical"?

    • Rodric29 profile image

      Rodric Johnson 3 years ago from Peoria, Arizona

      I am going to work on some things from my point of view, but I would interest in your point because of your perspective on things are very clinical in my opinion.

    • glynch1 profile image

      glynch1 3 years ago

      Yes. At the time I wrote the commentary, I was interested in investigating the differences between the two perspectives and not so much in providing an in-depth look at their spiritual significance. Thank you for your interest.

    • Rodric29 profile image

      Rodric Johnson 3 years ago from Peoria, Arizona

      You really focused on the technical differences here. It seems as though this is an academic version of things rather than a spiritual treatment. Am I correct?

      I notice you wrote Mark's Jesus or Matthew's Jesus. I assume this was given from a perspective point of view. It is forensic in nature because the differences are minor in importance when judging the overall event that took place. Jesus suffered and die for the sins of all and was resurrected.

      I enjoyed the article. Voted Up