Mark 14:26-32 | Discussion Questions

Mark 14:26-32

Preached at SoBo on October 16, NM on October 23, 2022



  • Have you ever known somebody who was self-deceived? Without naming names, share about this person and why you believe they were self-deceived.
  • Going a little deeper: what is self-deception, and how does it happen? In other words, how is it possible for a person to trick themselves? It is one thing to be fooled by another, but how do you trick yourself into believing things about yourself that aren’t true?

Our text today is mainly about self-deception. It takes place on Thursday night, immediately following the Passover meal. In this text, Jesus predicts that the disciples will all fall away in fear and cowardice. And yet the disciples, all highly confident in their devotion, deny that they would ever do such a thing.

We are in the final week of Jesus’ life. On Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem riding a donkey, while large crowds laid down palm branches and hailed him as the Messiah (11:9-10). On Monday, Jesus cursed a fruitless fig tree (a symbol of fruitless Israel), and then he entered the Jerusalem temple and drove the money changers, who perverted the worship of God (11:12-19). On Tuesday, Jesus entered the temple again and began to expose that Israel, like the fig tree he cursed the day before, had become barren and dead. Ultimately, Jesus’ day in the temple ended with a prediction of the temple’s destruction (11:27-13-37). On Thursday, Jesus and his disciples celebrated the Passover, and Jesus transformed the meaning of the meal as pointing ultimately to his death (14:12-25). Our text takes place immediately following the Passover meal.


26 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 27 And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 29 Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” 30 And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31 But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same.

32 And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. 34 And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” 35 And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” 37 And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? 38 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. 40 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. 41 And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”


  • Begin by examining the text together. What do you notice? What stands out? What is unexpected? Who are the main characters? What is surprising? 1
  • In verse 27, Jesus predicts that the disciples will all “fall away.” 
    • What do you think it means to “fall away,” and why?
    • How does this “falling away” differ from how Judas is described? (see vv 10, 18, 41-42, 44)
    • Do you think it is possible for a genuine Christian to “fall away” from Christ? Discuss.
  • Read verses 27-28 again. How do these two verses relate to each other? And how do they bring a sense of grace and assurance?
  • In verses 29-31, Jesus predicts that Peter will deny him three times, and Peter emphatically denies it. Though we read Peter’s threefold denial in verses 66-72, how do we see the seeds of this threefold denial in the garden of Gethsemane (vv 32-42)?


  • One thing we learn from this passage is the danger of overestimating the strength of devotion to Jesus. Like the disciples, we can deceive ourselves into thinking we would “never” abandon Jesus in this way or that.
    • What do you think leads somebody to a place of such spiritual over-confidence?
    • Share a time in your life when your spiritual failure opened your eyes to how weak your devotion was. How did that experience change you?
    • Read Romans 12:3. What are some practical strategies you can employ to cultivate a sober self-awareness in your spiritual life?

  • We also learn from this passage that abandoning Jesus in significant ways doesn’t just happen out of the blue; it begins in many more minor ways. In our passage, Jesus predicts that the disciples will all fall away. And later in the chapter, when Jesus got arrested, Mark tells us that “they all left him and fled” (v50) and that Peter denied Jesus three times (vv 66-72). But these larger denials of Jesus began in more minor ways. The disciples began their abandonment of Jesus through sleep prayerlessness in the Garden of Gethsemane instead of staying awake to pray for their friend.
    • Is there an area of your life where you have noticed “small compromises” creeping in? (e.g., neglecting daily prayer to sleep in, watching inappropriate things, love of money and materialism, course language and joking, etc.)
    • What do you sense God is calling you to do today to change course?

  • A third thing we learn from this passage is the vitality of prayer. In Jesus’ greatest hour of need, he was praying to his Father for strength to follow his will. But it was through prayerless self-confidence that the disciples “fell away.”
    • Share your rhythms of daily prayer. Where are you encouraged? Where would you like to grow?
    • Share one specific step you want to take to cultivate a deeper prayer life.


Father, we confess that we are not as strong as we think, and our love is not as pure as it ought to be. Please protect us from the dangers of self-deception and spiritual over-confidence. And in their place, make us humble and dependent on you through prayer. In Jesus' name, Amen.
1 Example Observations:
  • This passage takes place at the Mount of Olives (26)
  • Jesus predicts that the disciples will all fall away and cites the prophesy of Zech 13:7 (27)
  • Jesus predicts his resurrection (28)
  • Though Jesus predicts their “fall” he also assures them he will meet them again after his resurrection (28)
  • Peter is certain he is stronger than all the other disciples (29)
  • Jesus Predicts that Peter will deny him 3 times (30)
  • Peter and all the disciples are convinced they die with Jesus before denying him (31)
  • They went the Gethsemane and Jesus told his disciples to sit while he prayed (32)
  • Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him and was distressed (33)
  • Jesus told the inner circle to remain with him and “watch” i.e. stay awake and pray (34)
  • Jesus prayed for the “the house” to pass. What did he mean? (35)
  • Jesus addressed the Father as “Abba Father” (36)
  • Jesus prayed for the cup to pass but also for God’s will to be done (36)
  • The disciples fell asleep and Jesus addressed Peter. He told them to watch and pray lest they fall into temptation – what is the temptation? Cf. 26-31 (37-38)
  • Jesus went and prayed a second time, and again found the disciples sleeping (39-40)
  • Jesus went a prayed a third time, and again found them sleeping (41-42)