These small group studies of the gospel of Mark contain outlines, commentary, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Mark 14:32-52 Bible Study Guide
I. Jesus and the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane (32-42)
II. Jesus is arrested (43-52)
Which disciples did Jesus take farther with Him?
What task did Jesus give to Peter, James, and John?
How would you describe Jesus’ emotions and state of mind in the garden on the eve of His death? What words are used in the passage to describe how He felt?
How does He describe it? What did Jesus do to deal with these feelings?
How can we understand verse 36 and Jesus asking for “this cup” to be removed from Him?
Did the disciples adequately carry out the task Jesus had given them? What was the problem?
How did Jesus react to their failure?
What lessons do we learn from Jesus in this passage?
What lessons do we learn from the disciples?
Do you face the same struggles as the disciples did? In what kind of situations? How can we be victorious even when our flesh is week?
Luke 22:39-46 – Parallel passage. Angel strengthens Jesus.
Romans 7 – Paul faces the struggle of doing what he doesn’t want to do.1 Corinthians 9:27 – Bring your body into subjection.
Matthew 6:13 – Lead us not into temptation.
Psalms 119:35-37 – Make me to go in the path of Your commandments.
1 Corinthians 16:13 – Watch, stand firm, be strong.
1 Peter 5:8 – Be sober and vigilant because the devil is like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.
Hebrews 4:15 – Jesus was tempted in all ways as we are yet without sin.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. Jesus told some of the disciples to sit while He prayed. He then went further into the garden taking only His inner three, Peter, James, and John. Jesus seems to have revealed more of His feelings to these three, but also gave them more responsibility.
2. Jesus began to be very distressed and troubled – This passage shows us Jesus’ humanity very clearly. We often highlight Jesus’ divinity, sometimes to the point of overlooking the fact that He was a human like you and me. Jesus was not carved out of a rock, stoic and emotionless. What other places in the gospels can we see Jesus’ emotions pushing through? What are some of the reasons why Jesus would be so distressed/troubled?
A. His close friend was about to betray Him for money, even after being warned.
B. His disciples would flee and even deny they knew Him.
C. They would come to arrest Him like a common criminal, fully equipped with clubs and weapons of every kind.
D. Jesus would be mocked and publicly ridiculed.
E. People who hailed Him as the Messiah would turn against Him and demand His crucifixion.
F. He would be mercilessly beaten and tortured.
G. He would be wrongfully brutally murdered.
H. He would face separation from His Father.
I. His Father, whom He had perfect and eternal fellowship with, would pour His wrath out on Him.
J. Jesus would be punished for the sins of the world, innocent, He would become sin for us.
3. My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death – Jesus was grieved to the point it felt like He would die because of His deep sorrow. He had come offering Himself as the Messiah to His chosen people and they were about to reject Him and murder Him, the very Son of God. What did He do in response to these feelings? He cried out to the Father in prayer. Jesus gives us an excellent example of how to face trials, how to face betrayal/rejection/disappointment, etc. The solution is not a complicated one. He simply fell to the ground and prayed. What do you do when you feel overwhelmed or discouraged?
4. What “ingredients” do you see in Jesus’ prayer? – Jesus’ prayer is not extremely complicated. He prays to “Abba, Father.” He admits God’s absolute power. He submits to the Father’s authority and will. Instead of demanding that the Father do what He wants He makes the request, but at the same time expresses His willingness to obey no matter what. Jesus’ feelings were clear. He didn’t feel like going through with the plan. At this point in time, He was not excited about it, but instead dreaded it. In Luke 22 we see that He was so troubled He actually sweat drops of blood. I am not sure how this happens medically, but it is clear that this is caused by His extreme raw emotions.
5. Did God answer Him? – Yes. In Luke 22 we see that an angel is sent to strengthen Jesus. God did not answer how Jesus may have hoped (by removing the cup from Him). But He gave Jesus what He needed to get through that moment and keep going forward in the mission He was called to.
Application: There are many applications we can get from this passage. We learn that crying out to God in prayer is the right response when emotions threaten to overcome us. We learn that we should be honest in asking God what we hope He will do for us. We learn that we need to submit to God and obey even if the answer to our prayer is not what we hope. We learn that God will give us what we need to get us through the moment of severe trial if we rely on Him. See 2 Corinthians 12:9. Which lesson do you need to put in practice this week? How? If there is one thing to remember from the passage today, it is to always have the attitude of Jesus, “Not my will, but your will be done.”
Now we turn to the disciples.
Why did the disciples not obey Jesus in this critical hour of need?
Jesus had always been there for His disciples. Now He wanted them to be there for Him during this critical hour and they failed. It was not an intentional sin. They were not purposefully rebelling against Jesus. I believe that they wanted to keep awake, watchful, and prayerful. Jesus Himself said that their “spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” They failed because they were weak. Their sleepiness simply overcame them.
Could the disciples have prevented this?
There is always a way out of temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). Perhaps if they lay down or reclined to keep watch and pray it would be impossible for them to stay awake. But they could have stood up, walked around, pinched themselves, and done jumping jacks. Romans 13:14 tells us to “make no provision for the flesh.” They should have recognized their weak flesh and not put themselves into a position where failure would almost surely happen.
Why did this happen several times?
Someone once said that the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. When Jesus woke them, they probably were a bit embarrassed. They would have made up their minds not to let it happen this time. After almost nodding up they may have jerked awake and repeated to themselves “Don’t fall asleep. Don’t fall asleep. Don’t fall asleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep. ZZZZ” There is no record that they tried anything different. Knowing their weakness, they should have not put themselves into that position.
How did Jesus react?
While Jesus was disappointed, He didn’t snap at them. Most people in Jesus’ situation would have been very angry, “Here I am about to sacrifice my very life for you wretches and you can’t even stay awake ten minutes! Fine, the whole thing is off. I’m outta here!” But Jesus patience is literally divine. He rebukes them, but it is a gentle rebuke compared to what they deserve. God also treats us more mercifully than what we deserve.
What can we learn from the disciples?
Make no provision for the flesh. Do whatever is necessary to obey God and avoid temptation even if it is uncomfortable and inconvenient. It would not have been comfortable for the disciples to walk around when they were so tired, but if that was what was necessary to obey, they should have done it. Think about what sins you are prone to repeat again and again. What is the way of escape? How can you break out of this pattern?
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. A crowd with swords and clubs – Jesus was not treated with even the slightest respect or dignity, but rather as a common criminal.
2. Whomever I kiss, He is the one – See Proverbs 27:6. Judas’ kept up appearances until the very friend using a polite and friendly symbol to condemn Jesus. Why was it necessary to show them who Jesus was since Jesus was famous? Evidently there were some of the crowd who couldn’t recognize Jesus. This crowd was likely rabble bought and paid for by the priests and scribes. They would not have been the kind of person who likely would have paid attention to Jesus’ teaching. At the same time we should remember that Jesus often did ministry in other areas of the country AND there were many people flooding into Jerusalem for the Passover from all over. Thus it is not surprising that a number of this crowd could not recognize Jesus.
3. See John 18:1-13 for a more complete account of the arrest including the crowd falling back twice.
4. Peter struck the slave of the high priest and cut off His ear – What do we learn about Peter from this? Peter was very protective of Jesus. He often acted quickly, which can be good, but quick action without thinking isn’t always the best idea.
5. Jesus calmed the situation down by healing the man, showing compassion and mercy even to the end.
6. They all left Him and fled – Even the most devout disciples ran in fear of their lives. Many believe that the young man mentioned in verses 51-52 (he is only mentioned in Mark) is actually Mark.
“Two things stand out to me about Jesus’ arrest, His determination and His compassion. He knew what was going to happen in the garden yet He still went there. He knew what the crowd was coming to do, but He approached them and didn’t hide. He wouldn’t allow His disciples to fight for Him because it was His “cup” to “drink” 11. He also could have called hundreds of thousands of angels to slaughter His opponents (Matthew 26:53), but He didn’t. Make no mistake. Jesus didn’t get accidentally caught. He didn’t make a mistake and get turned in. Yes, the government was against Him and hundreds came to arrest Him, but He wasn’t under their authority. Some people say His death wasn’t that meaningful because He had no choice and was arrested by the government. He could have gotten out of it and away at any time, but He didn’t because He was determined. This determination is seen again and again throughout the book of John and in these chapters it reaches its climax with Jesus willingly giving up Himself to be arrested and finally killed.
Second, Jesus compassion really stands out. If anyone had cause to be bitter it was Jesus. Here His friend whom He had blessed and been kind to was betraying Him. The people He had given His life to help and serve were killing Him. The Romans who had nothing to do with Him were helping. What’s more they were coming against Him with clubs and swords as if He was a common criminal. Yet Jesus doesn’t grow bitter or hateful. Quite the opposite. First, He showed compassion to Judas. Read the cross-references.
He allowed Judas to kiss Him and He was friendly, even calling Judas friend. He didn’t rebuke Judas, but was polite.
Second, He showed compassion for His disciples. Though they were imperfect and had just failed Him by sleeping on watch repeatedly, Jesus was looking out for them until the end. He stands up to the crowd and repeatedly asks whom they seek in order to show to them they have no authority to take the disciples (8-9). He protected them from arrest because He had further plan for them later and perhaps because He knew the temptation would be too great for them to turn away from Him and it may cripple their faith. Until the very end He protected each one, not losing any.
Thirdly, He was compassionate towards the slave who came against Him and had his ear chopped off by Peter. He deserved it, but Jesus still healed Him. Compassion is shown towards those who don’t deserve it. Judas didn’t deserve compassion. The disciples didn’t deserve compassion. The slave didn’t deserve compassion. Also, Jesus showed compassion to others at a time when most would have only been concerned with their own life. Sometimes it is easy to show compassion to others when everything is going well in our life. But it is not so easy when to show compassion after we face a lot of hard trials. Until the end Jesus was outward focused, not inward focused.
Let us remember to be determined to fulfill our duty to God no matter what the cost and to be compassionate to others even if they don’t deserve it and we are in the middle of a tough time.
John 18:1-14 – Jesus is betrayed in the garden.