Mary, Peter and Judas: How the Cross Exposes Man

3 And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head.

[…]

10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Him to them.

[…]

71 Then he began to curse and swear, “I do not know this Man of whom you speak!”
72 A second time
the rooster crowed. Then Peter called to mind the word that Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” And when he thought about it, he wept.

– Mark 14:3, 10 & 71-72

In the Gospels. as the cross of our Lord Jesus clearly became a reality that those who were following Him could no longer question, deny, or ignore, who these people truly were also came into view more clearly. Consider Mary who, preparing the Lord for His burial, fully accepts what is about to take place, giving of her best (perhaps her all) to Christ . Whereas Peter sleeps, distances himself from the Lord, and denies Him three times. And Judas hands the Lord over to the wicked religious rulers in exchange for monetary gain.

I reflected on this yesterday quite a bit and found that I could briefly summarize the lesson contained here in these words:

The cross of Jesus Christ exposes men for who they truly are: Some worship by giving their all (Mary), others exchange Him for monetary gain (Judas), and still others, although believers, deny the Lord in order to save themselves (Peter).

This chapter, like every chapter of the gospel of Mark it seems (see here and here for example), contains some triplets that help underscore this truth.

1. The Lord Enters Three Places: (a.)the house of Simon the Leper (vv.3-9), (ii.)the Upper Room (vv.12-16), (iii.)the high priest’s residence (vv.53-54). Notice that in the center is the Last Supper, the focal point of all that is taking place: Christ is our Passover Lamb.

[Side Note: This is evidence against the claim made by liberal critics who would like to say that Mark does not present Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world – for he does, although not as explicitly as John does in his Gospel. Jesus as the Lamb of God is not a later theological development come to us via Paul and John, as some would suggest, but something that all of Christ’s disciples understood.]

2. The Lord prays Three Times: (vv.32-42)

2a. The Disciples are Found Sleeping Three Times: ibid.

3. Peter denies the Lord Three Times: (vv.66-72) Peter’s denial of Christ is an antithetical parallel to the Lord’s affirmation of His deity and identity as the Messianic King of Israel in that as Peter denies Christ, he moves farther and father away from the high priest’s residence.

As the Lord Jesus moves closer and closer to the cross (the gradual movement into the very residence of the high priest), Judas completely departs, and Peter falters under the pressure, sinning grievously. The significance of this lies in the fact that Mary, Judas and Peter all confessed allegiance to the Lord and yet only two of them were actually saved (Mary and Peter). And out of those two, only one truly acknowledged the reality of the cross (Mary).

Is there much of a difference today in the body of Christ today? Are we not surrounded by many who profess to know Christ but who are nowhere to be found when the Cross is preached? Those to whom the Lord Jesus is merely a means of them gaining financially, socially, politically or otherwise who are willing to trade in the glorious Gospel for a measly 30 pieces of silver? Yes, there are.

And there are also many like Peter who refuse to accept the harsh reality of the cross, up until the point where they have to decide whether they will have Christ or whatever form of security they think they have available by denying their Lord. Will it be my comfort, or the truth of the Gospel? Will I find comfort in the painless security of doing what all others are doing/have done (i.e. denying Christ)? Or Will I find comfort in the Gospel of Christ, in spite of the suffering that will inevitably follow for my standing up for the truth?

Yet, there are those who are like Mary. She broke open what was most valuable, gave it to Christ, in an act of worship, honoring His death, His ransom, His work on the cross on her and our behalf.

May the Judas’s be exposed, may the Peter’s be rebuked in love, and the Mary’s continue to offer us encouragement as we follow the Lord Jesus Christ –

no matter where that may lead us.

peace.

-h.

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One thought on “Mary, Peter and Judas: How the Cross Exposes Man

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