Abba, Father, he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36).
- The two key terms that Day and the Hour (in Greek) are names for the End more than the reference to its exact timing (13:32).
- The four watches of the Roman night that Mark locates with each event are; evening for Lord’s supper (6:00-9:00), midnight in Gethsemane (9:00-12:00), cockcrow in the courtyard of the high priest (12:00-3:00); dawn at Pilate’s place (3:00-6:00).
- Abba Father in 14:36, this is the only time that Jesus says in any of the Gospel.
Mark 13 is a difficult text to interpret because it uses a literary languages form called apocalyptic (concerning signs, great catastrophes, deceivers, the return of the Son of Man etc.). Mark 13 is not about signs and timetables. Instead, it is about discernment, faithful discipleship in the crises to come, and the unknown waiting period while the Master is absent (13:34-36).
Be faithful because you do not know when (13:32-37)
Mark describes what will happen when the Son of Man returns. It will be an unprecedented universal event that involves great tribulation. The thing is, “no one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (13:32). While people wondered and were eager to know when Jesus would come again, Jesus calls his disciples to be discerning and faithful right up to the End. Because no one knows about that day or hour, trying to figure the timing seems a pointless effort. Even if we try hard, we will never get it right. Therefore we are to be awake and be faithful to the Lord to the End. We are called to discern (v.33), be alert, and be faithful (v.37).
Jesus arrives at Gethsemane and prays to the Father. While praying, Jesus asks his disciples to keep awake three times. In Gethsemane, the disciples were supposed to remain loyal to the Lord Jesus by keeping awake, praying, standing, or kneeling with Jesus during his time of distress and grief. Jesus prays that the hour of his passion may pass and the cup might be removed. But Jesus discerns that it was God’s will for him to drink the cup and experience the hour of suffering. Jesus sees that the hour of his passion is the hour of eschatological fulfillment. Jesus says, “Abba Father,” which reminds of the story of Isaac and Abraham. As Abraham sacrifices his son, Isaac asks, “Daddy (Abba), where is the lamb for the sacrifice?” Abraham answered “God himself will provide the lamb.” In Gethsemane, Jesus prays to God for help but there is no substitute for the son except for himself. What an irony! The hour of God’s triumph is the hour in which God’s Son is handed over to the sinners (pp. 350-351).
Questions for reflection
- Why is focusing on faithful discipleship more important than the timing of the End itself?
- What is the relationship between Jesus’ last Passover celebration with his disciples and the Lord’s Supper celebrated in the Christian church?
- What would you have done if you were one of Jesus’ disciples in Gethsemane? Who would you identify with most?
These additional notes on the Gospel of Mark are taken from the Believers Church Bible Commentary written by Timothy J. Geddert.
Geddert, Timothy J. Believers Church Bible Commentary: Mark. Herald Press: Scottdale, Pennsylvania, 2001.