This Is My Body | Mark 14:10-25

Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him.

And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.

And when it was evening, he came with the twelve. And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?” He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me. For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

Mark 14:10-25 ESV

Even as the Israelites prepared to slaughter the original lambs on Passover night in Egypt, God already commanded them to reconstruct the hurried meal each year as a memorial to their great deliverance from slavery. As we said in our study through the first portion of Exodus, the Passover and the exodus from Egypt are so significant because they marked the redemptive start of Israel as a nation, a nation ransomed from slavery by the true and living God to be His people. Indeed, the very purpose of their deliverance was communion with Yahweh. Thus, they were not ransomed and then set free to become slaves to their idolatry like the other nations. If that was the case, the Israelites no doubt would have long ago vanished from the earth like the other peoples of Canaan who were caught between the Egypt and Mesopotamia. No, Yahweh intended to be their God and for them to be His people, so He brought them to Sinai and made a covenant with them. After giving the Israelites His law, Exodus 24:3-8 records the first covenantal agreement between Yahweh and His ransomed nation:

Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the LORD has spoken we will do.” And Moses wrote down all the words of the LORD. He rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the LORD. And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

AN OPPORTUNITY TO BETRAY HIM // VERSES 10-11

Our text begins with a shocking contrast to the love and faith of Mary that we observed in verses 3-9. Indeed, it seems that is Mark’s clear intention to set the self-forgetting and sacrificial love of Mary against the self-interest and greed of Judas.

Being that Judas is known culturally as a traitor to Jesus even among those who know almost nothing about the Scriptures, it can be easy for us to overlook the weight of Judas belonging to the twelve, while never truly loving Christ. He is perhaps the supreme example of a false Christian. As J. C. Ryle notes:

It is impossible to conceive a more striking proof of this painful truth, than the history of Judas Iscariot. If ever there was a man who at one time looked like a true disciple of Christ, and bade fair to reach heaven, that man was Judas. He was chosen by the Lord Jesus himself to be an apostle. He was privileged to be a companion of the Messiah, and an eye-witness of his mighty works throughout his earthly ministry. He was an associate of Peter, James, and John. He was sent forth to preach the kingdom of God, and to work miracles in Christ’s name. He was regarded by all the eleven apostles as one of themselves. he was so like his fellow-disciples, that they did not suspect him of being a traitor. And yet this very man turns out at last a false-hearted child of the devil,–departs entirely from the faith, assists our Lord’s deadliest enemies, and leaves the world with a worse reputation than anyone since the days of Cain. Never was there such a fall, such an apostasy, such miserable end to a fair beginning, such a total eclipse of a soul![1]

Indeed, so unexpected was Judas’ betrayal that we find the other eleven disciples in verse 19 just as easily wondering if they would betray Christ as Judas. Thus, Judas was not the cartoonish villain that many might assume. He played the religion game, and he played it well enough that no one except Christ Himself noticed it. Let this be a warning for all of us never to place our confidence in men. I always find it fascinating whenever another celebrity pastor has a moral failure that so many people, including fellow pastors, are surprised. Such situations are always tragic and very often startling, but they should not be surprising, for there is not one man in this world that is not capable of such sin and even apostasy.

But why, we may ask, did Judas fall away? John 12:6 makes it clear that this was not a momentary lapse on Judas’ part; instead, throughout Jesus’ ministry, Judas kept charge over the moneybag and in so doing, “he used to help himself to what was put into it.” That was evidently a revelation given the apostles sometime after Jesus’ resurrection, yet by it we learn that Judas’ heart did not follow Christ but cash. Regarding this, G. Campbell Morgan makes a point worth considering:

Was he given the bag because he was a thief? No, but because of his capacity [we might be more inclined today to say competency] in business matters. Undoubtedly everything was orderly in that little company of apostles. It may seem a small thing to say about Jesus, but He is the Author of order. The weakness of Judas lay in the realm of his power. His capacity was the reason of his appointment to the treasurership of the little band; and right at the heart of his power, or capacity, lay his weakness. This is always so. When the apostle declared in one of his letters, “When I am weak then am I strong,” he declared a great truth which may be expressed in another way, ‘Where I am strong there I am weak.’ Temptation always lies within the realm of capacity. Financial ability is fraudulent possibility–not fraudulent necessity! It is not necessary for a man with financial ability to be fraudulent, but the capacity creates the possibility. Here, in spite of the brilliant essayists of the past, and the no less brilliant novelists of modern time, Judas stands confronting us, a man mastered emotionally by covetousness, the weakness of his own power and capacity.[2]

Let us always remember that God’s kingdom does not work according to worldly wisdom, and while we may feel most secure in our strengths, those are precisely the areas where we are most likely to be tempted. Of course, this is not a call to cease any pursuit of excellence; it is only a warning against pride and a call to humility. For instance, I would be slothful if I did not pursue excellence in preaching, yet I must take great care that I do not allow it to replace the far superior need for me to be faithful as a Christian.

PREPARING THE LAST SUPPER // VERSES 12-21

Continuing on, we read:

And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it as he told them, and they prepared the Passover.

Here we observe the plan and intention of our Lord. Knowing that His time of suffering was quickly approaching and knowing that Jerusalem was filled with vipers who wanted His blood, He continued forward nevertheless with His Father’s will, and even evidently had planned the place of their final meal together beforehand. Thus, He sent two disciples (Luke tells us Peter and John) to prepare everything for the evening. To do so, they needed to find a man carrying water, which would have been quite easy to do, even though Jerusalem was flooded with people for the feast. Carrying water was women’s work in Jesus’ day making such a sight very noticeable, and as Sproul notes, only a slave or Essene (which were sort of like the Jewish predecessors to monks) would have done so.[3] Furthermore, the need for secrecy was very likely because of the chief priests and elders who wanted Jesus dead and also because of Judas. If Judas had been told beforehand of the dinner’s location, he may have betrayed Christ earlier. Though Jesus would go willingly at His arrest, His time of instructing His disciples was not complete without sharing this last Passover meal with them.

Verse 17 continues: “And when it was evening, he came with the twelve.” Here we should pause to consider this timing. The two disciples were sent out on Thursday to prepare the meal, and in the evening, they all shared that meal. While we mark the passing of one day to the next at midnight, that was not how Jews count it. For them, the day ended at nightfall. Thus, on Thursday evening, they would have considered it the beginning of Friday, or Good Friday as we now call it.

And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?” He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me. For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to the man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

There is much to unpack in these verses, but let us begin by getting a basic understanding for how Jesus and His disciples would have been celebrating the Passover. Hans Bayer gives a very handy summary:

The Passover meal consisted of the following: (1) blessing; (2) drinking of the first cup of diluted wine (Luke 22:17-18); (3) presentation of the unleavened bread, bitter herbs, vegetables, and fruits; (4) presentation of the lamb with narration of the history of Passover, concluded by the singing of Psalms 113-114; (5) drinking the second cup; (6) thanksgiving over the unleavened bread, breaking of bread, and distribution (cf. Mark 14:22); (7) eating of the bread with herbs and fruit; (8) eating of the lamb; (9) drinking of the third cup (14:23-24); (10) singing of the Hallel Psalms 115-118 (14:26); and (11) drinking of the fourth cup.[4]

Sometime before blessing and breaking the bread, Jesus made this revelation of His betrayal known to the twelve, and their utter shock can be gleaned by each questioning aloud if it would be them. While I would not make too fine a point about this, it clearly reveals that they each at least had some grasp of their ability to betray Christ. It seems to me that this is a fairly healthy skepticism of self. Judas, on the other hand, knew precisely that it was him, but rather than confessing, he acted just as astonished as the others.

Jesus’ answer in verse 20 is not meant narrow down the candidates but only to emphasize once more that it would be one of the twelve.

Verse 21 is certainly a weighty one, for here we get a glimpse of the age-old paradox yet marriage of divine sovereignty and human responsibility. Christ’s death was coming, just as the Scriptures long foretold. Nothing that was unfolding was outside of God’s eternal purpose “to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things” (Ephesians 3:9). Indeed, just as Christ’s death was the fulfillment of Scripture, so was Judas’ betrayal. In John 17:12, Jesus prayed, “While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”

Yet this eternal plan of redemption in no way made Judas’ betrayal of Christ any less heinous. God did not coerce Judas into committing this great sin. Like the sin of Joseph’s brothers so long ago, “Judas did exactly what Judas wanted to do, but God brought good out of evil, redemption out of treachery” (Sproul, 334).

Let this truth of God’s sovereign providence both comfort us and warn us. We ought to find comfort in knowing that God will ultimately work even the greatest of sins for His glory. Yet let us take warning that determinism or fatalism has no place in the Scriptures. Although God permits and even uses evil for His purpose, He is by no means the author of evil. On the last day, when all stand before His throne with all our thoughts, intentions, words, and deeds naked and exposed before Him, none will accuse the High King of heaven of forcing us to sin.

THIS IS MY BLOOD OF THE COVENANT // VERSES 22-25

In these final verses, we have Mark’s account of the institution of the ordinance or sacrament that we call the Lord’s Supper, Communion, or the Eucharist.

And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

After having presumably gone through the ordinary course of the Passover meal, which included retelling the exodus account of their ancestors, Jesus blessed and broke the bread as they normally did, but rather than saying something like “This is the bread of affliction, which our fathers ate in the wilderness,”[5] Jesus said, “Take; this is my body.” Then He did the same thing with the third cup of wine, calling it His blood. Jonathan Pennington emphasizes what this meant:

Jesus is not merely another prophet or even another Moses who is calling God’s people back to Sinai. He is taking up the foundational story and identity of Israel and drawing it (and them) into His person and work as the eschatological fulfillment of all God promised. The bread and wine are not just presented as symbols of the exodus but are said to be His body and His blood, thereby establishing the new covenant, a covenant that is inescapably centered on Him.[6]

Here Christ was revealing Himself as the greater Passover and greater exodus, as the true and complete deliverance of God’s people. But is it not interesting that Christ took up the bread and cup rather than the lamb that they most certainly ate. I think Keller is right to note that the lamb is not mentioned, though it was the central element to the whole meal, because Jesus Himself “was the main course.”[7] He is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29)!

Indeed, notice the language that Jesus used to describe the cup: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” Those final two words ought to remind us of what Jesus told His disciples was the very purpose of His work upon earth back in 10:45: “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Just as the Israelites were ransomed from their slavery in Egypt by the blood of the lamb, so did Christ come to offer Himself as the ransom for who call upon His name. Keller writes:

I read some years ago in National Geographic that after a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, some forest rangers began a trek up a mountain to survey the damage. One ranger found a bird of which nothing was left but the carbonized, petrified shell, covered in ashes, huddled at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by this eerie sight, the ranger knocked the bird over with a stick–and three tiny chicks scurried out from under their dead mother’s wings. When the blaze had arrived, the mother had remained steadfast instead of running. Because she had been willing to die, those under the cover of her wings lived. And Jesus said, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings” (Luke 13:34). He did indeed gather Jerusalem’s children under his wings–and he was consumed. All real, life-changing love is costly, substitutionary sacrifice.[8]

And that is precisely what Christ’s death is for us: a substitutionary sacrifice. As rebels against the eternal Creator, justice demands an eternal consequence. With no savior sent for them, Satan and the angels that fell with him will pay that eternal debt under the undying wrath of God in the lake of fire. Our sin has earned us the same fate, but God made a way for our salvation that also maintains and upholds His justice. Christ, the eternal Word, became human, lived in perfect obedience to God’s law, and then willingly offered Himself as a sacrifice in our place. Upon the cross, Christ paid our debt in full, marking us with His blood so that God’s wrath now passes over us like it once passed over the Israelites. Rightly does the hymn call us to look upon this wonder:

Feel the earth is shaking now,
See the veil is torn in two,
And He stood before the wrath of God,
shielding sinners with His blood.[9]

Thus, only two options lay before every person regarding our sin: pay the penalty eternally ourselves or come to Christ and by faith trust in His payment on our behalf.

Indeed, we should also notice that in giving the cup of wine Christ very intentionally reflected Moses’ words from Sinai. In fact, the author of Hebrews describes the establishment of God’s covenant with Israel as:

Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Hebrews 9:18-22

Yet that covenant could only, at best, make temporary provision for sins because “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). We all instinctively know that animals are of less worth than fellow humans because as God’s image-bearers we were given dominion over them. How then could the lesser ever covered the greater? It could not, so the covenant from Sinai required continual and perpetual sacrifices, the constant flowing blood of bulls and goats. The blood of Christ, however, inaugurated the new and better covenant by offering Himself as the once-for-all sacrifice for sins. And He was indeed able to cover our sins completely because He is far greater than us, though still one of us. Indeed, only one who is both God and man could work our ransom from sin and restore our communion with God. That is why the New City Catechism teaches us,

Q. 21 | What sort of Redeemer is needed to bring us back to God? One who is truly human and also truly God.

Q. 22 | Why must the Redeemer be truly human? That in human nature he might on our behalf perfectly obey the whole law and suffer the punishment for human sin; and also that he might sympathize with our weaknesses.

Q. 23 | Why must the Redeemer be truly God? That because of his divine nature his obedience and suffering would be perfect and effective; and also that he would be able to bear the righteous anger of God against sin and yet overcome death.

Thanks be to God that Jesus is that Redeemer, who has inaugurated the new and better covenant by the sprinkling of His own blood upon the altar!

Of course, just as the old covenant celebrated and remembered the night of their deliverance through the Passover meal, we come to the Lord’s Supper as the feast of the new covenant. We eat this bread and drink this cup in remembrance of Christ our Lord and His atoning death upon the cross. These elements are a visual sermon that calls us each time we take them to taste and see the goodness of God in the work of Christ.

Yet the Lord’s Supper is not only a remembrance but a proclamation. In verse 25, Jesus alludes to His second coming, His final victory over all evil, which we declare in song:

There we will rise to meet the Lord,
Then sin and death will be destroyed,
And we will feast in endless joy
When Christ is ours forevermore.[10]

Indeed, Paul makes this explicit by saying, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). By faith, we see in this bread and cup a foretaste of the great feast with all of God’s people throughout time that will be set at the return of Christ. This indeed is our blessed hope that “Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:28).


[1] J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Mark, 238.

[2] G. Campbell Morgan, The Gospel According to Mark, 286.

[3] R. C. Sproul, Mark: An Expositional Commentary, 333.

[4] Hans Bayer, ESV Expository Commentary Vol VIII: Matthew-Luke, 666.

[5] Timothy Keller, King’s Cross, 165.

[6] Jonathan Pennington, The Lord’s Supper: Remembering and Proclaiming Christ Until He Comes, 50-51.

[7] Timothy Keller, King’s Cross, 167.

[8] Keller, King’s Cross, 168-169.

[9]Jerusalem” by CityAlight

[10]Christ Our Hope in Life and Death” by Keith Getty, Matt Boswell, Jordan Kauflin, Matt Merker, & Matt Papa

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