April 14 Morning Verse of The Day

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14:18 Jesus had said earlier that he would be betrayed (9:31; 10:33). Now he added that the betrayer would be one of his disciples. The words one who is eating with me did not immediately identify the betrayer since all of the disciples were dining together. Rather, the words point to Ps 41:9 and add to the magnitude of the treachery since eating together in the ancient Orient involved a certain intimacy and demanded one restrain from hostile actions.[1]

14:18 reclining at table. See note on Matt. 26:20. Despite intimate fellowship, Judas will betray his master (Ps. 41:9).[2]

14:18 reclining … eating. The order of the Passover meal was: 1) drinking a cup of red wine mixed with water (cf. Lk 22:17); 2) the ceremonial washing of hands symbolizing the need for spiritual and moral cleansing; 3) eating the bitter herbs, symbolic of the bondage in Egypt; 4) drinking the second cup of wine, at which time the head of the household explained the meaning of Passover; 5) singing of the Hallel (Pss 113–118)—at this point they sang the first two; 6) the lamb was brought out, and the head of the household distributed pieces of it with the unleavened bread; 7) drinking the third cup of wine (see notes on 1Co 10:16).[3]

14:18. While they were eating the Passover meal, Jesus declared, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me. To break bread with someone was to enter into a pact of friendship and mutual trust. It would be an act of incredible treachery to break bread and then to betray your host. Not only was it someone who was breaking bread with Jesus—but it was one of his own friends who had been with him for more than two years. This would have seemed unbelievable to the disciples. They did not know that Judas had already made arrangements to betray Jesus.[4]

14:18 “reclining” Originally the Passover was eaten standing (cf. Exod. 12:11). The Jews of the first century did not use chairs, a custom which they learned from the Persians (cf. Esther 1:6; 7:8). They ate at low cushions, usually three in number, in the shape of a horseshoe (so people could bring food easily), reclining on pillows on their left elbow with their feet behind them.

 “ ‘Truly’ ” This is literally “amen.” See Special Topic at 3:28.

 “ ‘that one of you will betray Me—one who is eating with Me’ ” This is an allusion to Ps. 41:9. This was a cultural way of accentuating Judas’ guilt (cf. John 13:18). Table fellowship was a significant cultural symbol of friendship and commitment. To betray someone with whom you had eaten would be appalling to an easterner.[5]

14:18 While they were reclining at the table eating. This took place on Thursday evening (15 Nisan), the beginning of Passover. For feasts, the Jews ate in the Roman manner, with triclinia, couches holding three people each, in a U-pattern around a central table. They rested on their left elbow, with their right hand taking the food. The Passover meal had eight stages: (1) the blessing of the wine is followed by the first cup; (2) the bread, herbs, stewed fruit, and lamb are brought in; (3) after the son (here, one of the disciples) asks why this night is important, the father tells the exodus story and praises God’s redemption via the first part of the Hallel (Pss. 113–14); (4) the second cup of wine is drunk; (5) the unleavened bread is blessed, broken, distributed, and eaten with the herbs and fruit as the father explains the meaning of the bread; (6) the meal proper is eaten; (7) at the end of the meal the father blesses a third cup and the family sings the second part of the Hallel (Pss. 115–18); (8) a final cup concludes the celebration. Jesus goes beyond the normal ritual explanations and seemingly applies every stage to the meaning and significance of his coming death as a new exodus/Passover.

For the Passover meal Jesus and his disciples would have dined Roman style, which meant reclining on cushions, couches, or benches. This was usually an arrangement of three that were placed in a U around a central table, known as a triclinium (an artist’s rendition is shown here). The place of honor would have been on the center couch.

Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me. For amēn sayings as important theological points, see on 3:28; 14:9. We do not know how Jesus knew of Judas’s coming betrayal, whether through supernatural awareness or news that he had heard from friends in Jerusalem. Jesus assumes a prophetic air here, so the former is more likely. There are three prophecies here: Judas’s betrayal (vv. 18–21), the disciples’ desertion (vv. 22–25), and Peter’s denials (vv. 26–28). Each is fulfilled in verses 43–49, 50–52, 66–72 respectively. Jesus is aware and in control of everything that will transpire. He goes to his destiny alone and yet is sovereign over all. The terrible nature of Judas’s treachery is seen in the way Jesus chooses to describe his betrayer: “one [of you] who is eating with me.” Jesus is alluding to Psalm 41:9 (quoted in John 13:18), a lament psalm where David decries the fact that a “close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me” and joined his enemies. David’s sorrow is typologically related to that of the Davidic Messiah. Judas’s betrayal is part of God’s plan, and God prepared for it long before.

Jesus indicates that the disciple who will betray him is “one who dips bread into the bowl with me” (14:20). Part of communal dining may have included sharing from a common bowl, where bread would have been used as a spoon. Shown here are some stone vessels used for eating, from a Jerusalem home destroyed in AD 70.[6]

14:18 / Reclining at the table eating: This is in keeping with the Jewish practice that dates from Hellenistic times that at the Passover meal one must recline either on couches or on rugs on the floor (after the ancient Greek banquet custom) to demonstrate one’s freedom.

I tell you the truth: Again, this is the solemn phrase indicating an oathlike force to the saying. See note on 3:28.

One who is eating with me: This emphasizes the nature of the treachery as coming from within Jesus’ intimate circle of followers and is likely an allusion to Ps. 41:9. This idea is repeated in v. 20, where the betrayer is specifically described as one of the Twelve, … one who dips bread into the bowl with me (reflecting the ancient Palestinian meal custom of using pieces of the flat unleavened bread as the eating utensil).[7]

18 The Passover meal was originally eaten while standing: “This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover” (Ex 12:11). But in Jesus’ time it had become customary to eat it in a reclining position. While Jews normally sat for meals, reclining was the posture for a more formal banquet or celebratory meal. Jesus uses the solemn formula “I tell you the truth” (cf. v. 9 and comments at 3:28) to disclose the fact that one of them would betray him.

Jesus further identified the betrayer as “one who is eating with me.” Meals were rituals of social status in the Mediterranean world, and to share table fellowship with someone indicated friendship and social acceptance. To betray a friend after eating with him was, and still is, regarded as the worst kind of treachery in the Middle East. Jesus may have had in mind Psalm 41:9: “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted his heel against me.”[8]

[1] McLaren, R. H. (2017). Mark. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 1587). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[2] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1927). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Mk 14:18). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] Cooper, R. L. (2000). Mark (Vol. 2, pp. 236–237). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[5] Utley, R. J. D. (2000). The Gospel according to Peter: Mark and I & II Peter (Vol. Volume 2, p. 177). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

[6] Osborne, G. R. (2014). Mark. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (pp. 257–258). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[7] Hurtado, L. W. (2011). Mark (p. 238). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[8] Wessel, W. W., & Strauss, M. L. (2010). Mark. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, pp. 944–945). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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