It seems strange to be reading about the Last Supper, Gethsemane, and the beginning of Jesus’ trials already. Mark is truly short and to the point. In his preface to the KNT, N. T. Wright calls the Gospel of Mark a “revolutionary tract” (xiv), and that point has come out to me more so in this reading than ever before.
There is much to comment on in this long chapter. What stood out the most to me was this wonderful juxtaposition of disappointment and grace:
“You’re all going to desert me,” said Jesus, “because it’s written, ‘I shall attack the shepherd, and then the sheep will scatter.’ But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” (Mark 14:27-28)
Jesus knows his dearest friends will run away instead of stay by his side when the time comes for his arrest and death. There is that young man (John?) who is only wearing a tunic (?) but he runs away too in the end. Peter stays a stone’s throw away but utters his fated denials. Desert him they do. Still, knowing that they will leave him, Jesus says he will never leave them. In fact, he will go ahead of them to Galilee to prepare the way. He will care for them until the end and even after that. What a wonderful Savior!
Now, jump over to Mark 16:7. The women come to Jesus’ tomb on Easter Sunday. Amazed, they meet an angel sitting on the rolled away tombstone. He told them:
“But go and tell his disciples — including Peter — that he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You’ll see him there, just like he told you.”
More grace! The angel singles out Peter to be told specifically that he is welcome in Galilee. That Jesus is right there waiting for him. The very same Peter who had denied Jesus three times.
As many of you know, it is typically thought that Mark is writing his gospel in Rome based on the testimony and memories of Peter himself. As Max Lucado said of this passage, you have to imagine Peter had a big lump in his throat when he told this story.