Mark's Passion Narrative proceeds in four stanzas, corresponding to the four watches of the night.
The Passion Narrative opens dramatically in the home of Simon the leper, where an unknown woman anoints Jesus' head with pure nard. Jesus responds to those who protest her extravagance by saying that "she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial" (14:8). Judas Iscariot seeks an opportunity to betray Jesus, and the disciples seek a place where they can eat the Passover meal as the passion drama continues to unfold (14:10-16).
The first watch of the night, evening, is the setting for the Passover meal, where Jesus announces his betrayal by one who eats with them (14:17-31). During the meal Jesus offers the bread of his body and the cup of the covenant poured out for many. Following the meal Jesus and the disciples go to the Mount of Olives where Jesus announces a prophetic word from Zechariah 13:7: "I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered" (14:27). Jesus also promises to precede his followers into Galilee after he is "raised up" (14:28) and announces that Peter will deny him before the cock crows twice (14:29-31).
The second watch of the night, midnight, is in the garden of Gethsemane (14:32-52). Taking Peter, James, and John, Jesus is "distressed and agitated." Directing his prayer to "Abba, Father," he asks that the cup of suffering might pass from him. Three times Jesus returns to find his disciples unable to watch as sleep has overtaken them (14:37, 40, 41). The betrayer comes, identifying Jesus with a kiss of betrayal, and in fear the disciples all flee (14:50).
The third watch of the night, cockcrow, takes place as Jesus is brought before the Jewish religious leaders. False witness is brought against him (14:53-72). In anger the high priest challenges Jesus in his silence, "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?" Jesus responds, "I am; and 'you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power,' and 'coming with the clouds of heaven'" (14:62, with reference to Daniel 7:13 and Psalm 110:1). This is the critical point of divulging Jesus' identity in the Gospel of Mark, and his words bring forth the charge of blasphemy. Meanwhile Peter is recognized in the courtyard of the high priest as one who was with Jesus, although he vehemently denies the claims. When the cock crows a second time, Peter remembers Jesus' words that he would deny him three times, and he weeps (14:72).
In the fourth watch of the night, dawn, the Jewish religious leaders deliver Jesus to Pilate. Pilate discerns that it is out of jealousy that Jesus has been brought to him, and in his perplexity he seeks to release Jesus. The chief priests stir up the crowd, crying out for Jesus to be crucified. Inside the palace courtyard, Jesus is mocked, crowned with thorns, and led out to be crucified (15:1-20). At this point the time mentioned in the narrative slows down to mark hours. Jesus is mocked and crucified on the third hour (15:21-32), and darkness falls over the land from the sixth hour until the ninth, when Jesus cries out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (15:34, with reference to Psalm 22:1). A sponge of vinegar is put to his lips, and Jesus breathes his last. As the temple curtain is torn from top to bottom, a centurion proclaims, "Truly this man was God's Son." Three women who have followed Jesus now observe him from a distance (15:33-41). Evening has come, and because it is the day of Preparation for the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea asks Pilate for the body. Taking him down from the cross, Joseph buries Jesus in a tomb hewn of rock. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses witness the burial (15:42-47).
14It was two days before the Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to arrest Jesus* by stealth and kill him; 2for they said, Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.
3 While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper,* as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. 4But some were there who said to one another in anger, Why was the ointment wasted in this way? 5For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii,* and the money given to the poor. And they scolded her. 6But Jesus said, Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. 7For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. 8She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. 9Truly I tell you, wherever the good news* is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.
10 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. 11When they heard it, they were greatly pleased, and promised to give him money. So he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.
12 On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples said to him, Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover? 13So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, 14and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples? 15He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there. 16So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.
17 When it was evening, he came with the twelve. 18And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said, Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me. 19They began to be distressed and to say to him one after another, Surely, not I? 20He said to them, It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread* into the bowl* with me. 21For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.
22 While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, Take; this is my body. 23Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. 24He said to them, This is my blood of the* covenant, which is poured out for many. 25Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.
26 When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
27And Jesus said to them, You will all become deserters; for it is written,
I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.
28But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee. 29Peter said to him, Even though all become deserters, I will not. 30Jesus said to him, Truly I tell you, this day, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times. 31But he said vehemently, Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you. And all of them said the same.
32 They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, Sit here while I pray. 33He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. 34And he said to them, I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake. 35And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36He said, Abba,* Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want. 37He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? 38Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial;* the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. 39And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. 40And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him. 41He 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. 42Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.
43 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. 44Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard. 45So when he came, he went up to him at once and said, Rabbi! and kissed him. 46Then they laid hands on him and arrested him. 47But one of those who stood near drew his sword and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 48Then Jesus said to them, Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? 49Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled. 50All of them deserted him and fled.
51 A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, 52but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked.
53 They took Jesus to the high priest; and all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes were assembled.
54Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the guards, warming himself at the fire.
55Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for testimony against Jesus to put him to death; but they found none.
56For many gave false testimony against him, and their testimony did not agree.
57Some stood up and gave false testimony against him, saying,
58We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.
59But even on this point their testimony did not agree.
60Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?
61But he was silent and did not answer. Again the high priest asked him, Are you the Messiah,* the Son of the Blessed One?
62Jesus said, I am; and
you will see the Son of Man
seated at the right hand of the Power,
and coming with the clouds of heaven.
63Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, Why do we still need witnesses? 64You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision? All of them condemned him as deserving death. 65Some began to spit on him, to blindfold him, and to strike him, saying to him, Prophesy! The guards also took him over and beat him.
66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came by. 67When she saw Peter warming himself, she stared at him and said, You also were with Jesus, the man from Nazareth. 68But he denied it, saying, I do not know or understand what you are talking about. And he went out into the forecourt.* Then the cock crowed.* 69And the servant-girl, on seeing him, began again to say to the bystanders, This man is one of them. 70But again he denied it. Then after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean. 71But he began to curse, and he swore an oath, I do not know this man you are talking about. 72At that moment the cock crowed for the second time. Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times. And he broke down and wept.
15As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. 2Pilate asked him, Are you the King of the Jews? He answered him, You say so. 3Then the chief priests accused him of many things. 4Pilate asked him again, Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you. 5But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed.
6 Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. 7Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. 8So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom. 9Then he answered them, Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews? 10For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over. 11But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. 12Pilate spoke to them again, Then what do you wish me to do* with the man you call* the King of the Jews? 13They shouted back, Crucify him! 14Pilate asked them, Why, what evil has he done? But they shouted all the more, Crucify him! 15So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.
16 Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governors headquarters*); and they called together the whole cohort. 17And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. 18And they began saluting him, Hail, King of the Jews! 19They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. 20After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
21 They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. 22Then they brought Jesus* to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). 23And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. 24And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take.
25 It was nine oclock in the morning when they crucified him. 26The inscription of the charge against him read, The King of the Jews. 27And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left.* 29Those who passed by derided* him, shaking their heads and saying, Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30save yourself, and come down from the cross! 31In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32Let the Messiah,* the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe. Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.
33 When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land* until three in the afternoon. 34At three oclock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani? which means, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?* 35When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, Listen, he is calling for Elijah. 36And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down. 37Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. 38And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he* breathed his last, he said, Truly this man was Gods Son!*
40 There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.
42 When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, 43Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time. 45When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. 46Then Joseph* bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body,* wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. 47Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body* was laid.
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org
10 February 2011