The Passion Narratives of Mark and Luke: Christ's Loneliness and the Christ of Compassion1

William D. Dennison

Introduction: Textual Assessment

Picture yourself in a classroom as a New Testament professor, standing in the higher critical tradition, enters the room and states, "The four Gospels contradict each other with respect to the passion narratives. Hence, what can be truly believed concerning Christ's final path to the cross?" For example, Mark 14:26-31 and Luke 22:31-34 record a similar incident, and yet, they read quite differently. In fact, for those who stress that the narratives are contradictory, they will point out quickly that Mark's scene is at the Mount of Olives (14:26), whereas Luke's scene is at the Last Supper (22:31). Furthermore, Mark presents the picture that all the disciples will fall away (14:27), whereas Luke presents the picture that only Simon Peter will fall away as he returns eventually to strengthen his weaker companions (22:31-32). One also notes that these two narratives provide different accounts of Peter's response. In Mark, Peter claims, "Even if all fall away, I will not" (14:29); whereas in Luke, Peter claims, "Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death" (22:33). In Mark, Peter claims that he will hold his position in spite of the other disciples being scattered; whereas in Luke, Peter claims that he will voluntarily move in the same direction that Christ as his Lord may experience—prison, and even death. Finally, in Mark, the attack upon Christ by his enemies causes the disciples to scatter and eventually leads to Peter's denial (Mk. 14:27); whereas in Luke, Satan's claim upon Peter leads to Peter's denial (Lk. 22:31, 34). Hence, on the basis of these distinctions, many critical scholars maintain that these two texts contradict each other. But is that the only conclusion which can be drawn? For example, if one labors within the margins of the internal testimony of Scripture itself, is it conceivable that these two texts are compatible? Let us see if they are.

A Biblical and Reformed view of Scripture is committed to the internal testimony of Scripture. This loyalty is based on a number of justified principles, but I believe that it is sufficient to employ two of those principles for our purposes: 1) the internal claim of Scripture's own inspiration; and 2) Scripture interpreting Scripture.2 Ironically, the same Peter who appears in both narratives of our texts provides our starting point for the internal testimony of Scripture (2 Peter 1:19-21). By means of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Peter denotes how the divine inspiration of Scripture takes place; no Scripture ever had its origin in the subjective will of man (2 Peter 1:20-21). Rather, men who wrote the Bible were moved, or carried along, or brought forth (pheromenoi) by the Holy Spirit. In the final analysis, the origin of Scripture is solely in God; the Holy Spirit is Scripture's ultimate author. Such an understanding of Scripture does not diminish the fact that God used human authors to pen his holy Word. In fact, only by the genius of God's nature could the Lord use the distinct personalities of each author, and at the same time preserve the continuity of its message of redemption in Christ as each book bears the blueprint of the Holy Spirit!

Obviously within the scope of the Biblical canon, the four gospels are one of the best examples of the Holy Spirit's use of distinct personalities. Each gospel has its origin in God, and yet, as the Holy Spirit works with the unique personality of each author, the church is given a fresh and vivid look at Christ's life. For our purpose, we can say that both Mark and Luke are moved directly by the Holy Spirit—their gospels are the product of God's breath (2 Tim. 3:16). As each author receives the internal inspiration of God, an exceptional picture of the life of Christ emerges from their pages that uniquely reflects their own personality. As we take a limited glance at their respective passion narratives, these pictures will become our focus. Meanwhile, let us move to our second point concerning the internal testimony of Scripture: Scripture interprets Scripture.

As we investigate Mark 14:26-31 and Luke 22:31-34, the phrase Scripture interpreting Scripture becomes synonymous with Scripture comparing Scripture. If one compares these similar texts (Mark 14:26-31; Luke 22:31-34), then it would seem that both narratives have recorded the same incident. For this reason, many critical scholars view the two texts as contradictory; after all, Mark's discussion takes place at the Mount of Olives, whereas Luke's discussion takes place at the Last Supper. In my judgment, these critical scholars need to take more seriously their own observation, i.e., the different occasions described by each author. Although each text may end on the similar note (the circumstances surrounding Peter's denial), I believe that Mark and Luke are recording different incidents. In fact, Luke's incident comes first in chronological sequence since it occurs at the Last Supper (Luke does not mention the departure to the Mount of Olives until 22:39). At the Last Supper, Christ had been discussing servitude, the pearls of living the gospel, and the importance of being seated at the final feast in his kingdom, when he revealed that he has been praying for Peter and his disciples (Lk. 22:24-34).3 As Christ discloses his labor of intercessory prayer on their behalf, Peter claims his undivided devotion to Christ, whereas Christ divulges Peter's eventual failure (22:33-34).

The prediction of Peter's denial appears in a different setting in Mark's gospel. At the Mount of Olives, Mark records Christ's prophetic word that each disciple will flee from him. Christ will face death by himself (14:26-31). Given Peter's character, it is believable that he would make the same claim at the Mount of Olives that he made at the Last Supper (Luke's gospel); that is to say, he would refuse to follow the course of the other disciples by deserting Christ, and he would refuse to deny him. In this respect, Mark captures Peter's response to Christ's contention by using the term ekperissos ("vehemently," 14:31). The term ekperissos has the meaning of "protesting emphatically," "strenuously insisting," and "forcefully persisting;" it carries with it the idea of "increase in force and repetition." Obviously, Mark provides a description of Peter's character within the context of his own narrative; after Peter has claimed that he will not fall away and Christ predicts his denial, he becomes persistent (vehement) in his claim that "even if I have to die with you, I will not deny you" (14:31a)! As Mark captures Peter's strenuous response, perhaps Mark has also captured Peter's relentless temperament from the previous confrontation between Peter and Christ at the Last Supper (Luke's account).

Hence, when Scripture interprets Scripture, we maintain the continuity of the Biblical text: Mark and Luke are complementary, not contradictory. In fact, when the settings of both texts are investigated within the flow of their respective narratives, we conclude that each author records a distinct incident, and yet, each incident notes a similar confrontation and response with respect to Peter. In this light, both incidents provide deep spiritual insight into the roles of Christ, Peter, and the disciples as Jesus makes his final journey to the cross.

Mark's Narrative (14:26-31)

For Mark, the passion narrative is significant; one must participate in Christ's journey to the cross as well as his substitutionary death on the cross if one is going to understand who Jesus is. Specifically, Mark's picture is the loneliness of Christ. Jesus must go to the cross alone in order to bear the sin of his people and accomplish their redemption. In order to understand this remarkable theme, we need to project ourselves into the flow of Mark's passion narrative at the Mount of Olives (14:26). Herein, Christ's lonely path to the cross begins to impress itself upon the reader. We have moved in the narrative from the open celebration of Christ's entrance into Jerusalem (11:7-11) to his final meal with his disciples (14:12-25) and their departure to the Mount of Olives (14:26).4 To grasp fully Christ's lonely path, it is beneficial to understand the position of the Mount of Olives in the history of redemption. The Mount of Olives is mentioned only twice in the entire Old Testament (Zech. 14:4; 2 Sam. 15:30). For our purpose, the events surrounding the 2 Samuel 15 passage are of interest—the story of David, Absalom, and Ahithophel.

As you recall, David's son, Absalom, had conspired to gain the allegiance of Israel against his father. In view of the strength of Absalom's conspiracy, David, some officials, and others fled from Jerusalem. Where did they go? They departed to the Mount of Olives (2 Sam. 15:30). Meanwhile, Ahithophel, one of David's most trusted counselors, joined Absalom and his plot to overtake the throne. As David learned of Ahithophel's betrayal, he decides to infiltrate the inner ranks of Absalom with a true ally and spy, Hushai (15:32-37). When he came to inquire how to terminate David, Absalom consulted both Ahithophel and Hushai. Ironically, by virtue of God's glorious providence, Absalom took the advice of Hushai and rejected the advice of Ahithophel which actually led to Absalom's death (17:5-14; 18:17). When Ahithophel learned that his advice was discarded, he felt unwanted and betrayed by Absalom (17:1-4, 14, 23). At that point, the Bible tells us that Ahithophel saddled his donkey, returned home and hung himself (17:23).

Herein lies a fascinating parallel between the story of David and the life of Christ. Like David, Christ also left the city of Jerusalem to go to the Mount of Olives in view of a plot to capture and kill him (Mk. 14:26). Like David, Christ left with his trusted officials (disciples), except for one. As David was being betrayed by one of his officials at the Mount of Olives, Ahithophel, likewise Jesus was being betrayed by his disciple at the Mount of Olives, Judas. As Ahithophel hung himself in the state of betrayal to David (2 Sam. 17:23), likewise Judas hung himself in the state of betrayal to Christ (Mt. 27:3-5).5 The picture of Judas's desertion and betrayal with respect to Christ was forecast in Ahithophel's desertion and betrayal with respect to David. What occurred in David's life repeats itself in the life of the Son of David, Jesus Christ!

Indeed, the Passion Week had begun with crowds, but as Christ celebrates the Last Supper and withdraws to the Mount of Olives—the desertion of the crowds as well as one of his disciples, Judas, becomes an apparent theme in the narrative. David experienced loneliness in his life as he departed to the Mount of Olives; and likewise Christ experiences loneliness as he withdraws to the Mount of Olives. For Mark's Christ, this theme is solidified in the language that Mark captures between Christ and his disciples at the Mount of Olives (14:27a): "you [disciples] will all fall away (stumble; be offended)." Mark is pressing upon the reader that Christ's path to the cross will be void of any human companionship—Christ will be alone!

As Christ's words fall upon the ears of his remaining disciples, Mark places the prophetic voice of his journey before the reader: "You will all fall away because of me this night, for it is written: 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered'" (14:27). Christ's prophetic word is at stake here. As that word is delivered, one must note that the sovereign, providential hand of God will execute his plan of redemption and justice; God strikes the Shepherd, the true Shepherd of the sheep! The scene is much different here than the picture of the Shepherd leading his flock, or the Shepherd pursuing a stray lamb and bringing him home, or even the picture of the artist who paints the Shepherd carrying a lamb and clutching it to his bosom. To be sure, such pictures do not exist in this narrative. Rather Christ's prophecy states that the Shepherd will be struck by the clear permissive hand of God's providence. Indeed, God's Son, the Shepherd, will be struck by the hand of Israel and Rome. Since all humanity sins and rebels against their Creator and everyone is in need of redemption, both Jew and Gentile will participate in the execution of Christ. Meanwhile what will happen to the sheep, the disciples—those hand-picked by the Shepherd himself? They will be scattered; they will all desert him! Jesus will be alone; he will be left to himself! Christ must face his God—ordained destiny alone; the sheep will not be present! Their allegiance to Christ will not be found as he is struck and hangs on that cursed tree, alone! Indeed, Mark's narrative captures the profound truth of the entire scope of Biblical religion; God alone saves! No human being is able to complement that redemption.

Even so, one disciple is so brash to make the claim that even if all will fall away, he will not! There is no mystery in the text concerning the identity of this brash disciple: it is Peter (Mk. 14:29). Peter's careless and thoughtless statement brought a clear prophetic response from Christ. During that very night, Peter will deny him three times (14:30). Following Peter's random thoughts, the other disciples attempted to make the same claim that they would not deny Christ (14:31).

At this point, the reader must take careful note of the providential flow of Christ's trial. For Mark, Christ's prophecy concerning Peter and the disciples is crucial to the authentication of Christ's identity and mission. Remember, Christ is accused before the Jewish chief priests and council as being a false prophet. This accusation was one of the most serious allegations made in Judaism (Mk. 14:53-66). If convicted, the punishment was death (Deut. 13:1-5). Although the Jews justified the execution of Christ on this ground, Mark has given careful attention to the fact that Christ is a true prophet, not a false prophet. Christ has spoken his prophetic words: all the disciples will fall away and Peter will deny him three times (14:27-31). As Mark develops his theme of Christ's loneliness, he also invites the reader to assess whether Christ is a true or false prophet—whether his execution on the cross is legal or illegal. In Christ's hour of loneliness, is he a true or false prophet? How do the events in his life shape an answer to that question?

As Christ was arrested in Gethsemane and taken away, Mark clearly affirms that "everyone deserted him and fled" (14:50). Christ's prophecy is confirmed as true; as everyone deserts him, he is left alone! In fact, Mark focuses so strongly upon the prophecy of Christ's loneliness that only his gospel records the story of the young man following Jesus (14:51-52). At this point, many scholars attempt to hypothesize about the identity of this individual, including John Mark in their speculations. It is superfluous to speculate about the identity of this young man since the text provides none. Mark's failure to identify this young man was done on purpose; his identity is not important. Rather the young man appears in the narrative in order to accent Mark's particular theme with respect to Christ. Christ is so alone that even this particular young man struggled and left his garment in the hands of the arresting crowd as he fled naked into the night.

But wait a second! Perhaps, every disciple will not desert Christ. Could it be that Jesus is not a true prophet? Could it be that Christ will not be left alone? Could Peter prove Christ wrong? Not at all; the prophetic word of Christ is true. Peter deserts Christ as well; he denies him three times just as Christ predicted (14:66-72). Indeed, Mark's narrative makes the case that the chief priests and the council have demanded the execution of a true prophet, not a false prophet. For this reason the reader is called to participate in the prophetic voice of Christ and his lonely path to the cross in order to comprehend the purchase of redemption for his church. In fact, Mark pictures no consolation for Jesus as he is crucified upon the cross. Specifically, first Mark directs our attention to those crucified with him as they "heaped insults upon him" (15:32; his theological perspective chooses not to mention the thief on cross who becomes saved—Luke's gospel). Second, Mark states that the women watched the crucifixion from a "distance" (15:40; his theological perspective chooses not to mention when some of the women and John will move nearer to the cross—John's gospel). Third, Mark records, along with Matthew's gospel, the forsaken relationship between the Father and the Son on the cross: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (15:34; cf. Mt. 27:46). Through the Holy Spirit, Mark's narrative has spoken; Christ is absolutely alone for the sake of saving his people. In fact, as Mark's narrative invites you to participate in Christ's death, you are to be overwhelmed with the fact that Christ alone saves the sinner! Hence as Mark presents his picture of the gospel of sovereign grace, he chooses to highlight the dialogue and circumstances surrounding Christ's final hours accenting the fact that Christ alone is the means of salvation. Indeed, the Holy Spirit communicates through Mark that the events which God performs in history confirms the truth that he alone saves.

Luke's Narrative (22:31-34)

If the Holy Spirit invokes in Mark the picture of Christ's loneliness for our redemption, then what picture does the Holy Spirit invoke in Luke? Let me suggest that Luke's passion narrative focuses upon the compassion of Christ! In other words, the Holy Spirit compels the church not only to embrace the Christ who suffered alone for his people (Mark's gospel), but we must also embrace the compassionate Redeemer—the Christ who continues the work of redeeming his church as he went to the cross (Luke's gospel). For example, Luke alone has the following events of compassion in his passion narrative: 1) Christ heals the servant of the high priest's ear which had been cut off during his arrest (22:51); 2) Pilate and Herod become friends while dealing with Christ's sentence when previously they were adversaries (23:12); 3) Christ prays for those who executed him (23:34); and 4) Christ redeems the thief on the cross (23:43). In each incident Luke captures Christ's continuing work of compassion while he endures the hardest hours of trial. In these final hours, Christ does not focus upon himself but upon others—he lives what it means to be a servant. In fact, our passage (Luke 22:31-34), appears in the context of Christ discussing with his disciples the meaning of being a servant in the situation of trial (22:24-30). The setting is the Last Supper. On the basis of comments delivered by Christ, the disciples wonder who will betray Christ, which in turn, projects them into an argument about which one is the greatest (22:22-24). As they are infatuated by their own self-image and status, Christ attacks their position of pride by saying that whoever sees himself as the greatest needs to assume the position of the youngest and act as a servant to all. Herein Christ is such an example (22:25-27).

Meanwhile, as the disciples are obsessed with their own position of prominence, Christ declares that they will participate in his hour of trial. In this trial, their position of self-proclaimed fame—their temporal world of the flesh—has no meaning! Rather the issue is perseverance; their focus needs to be upon their presence at the eschatological feast of the Lamb in his eternal kingdom. At this feast, they have been given a designated position by Christ through God the Father; each one will sit upon "thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (22:28-30). Hence, as they are driven to participate in the final hours of Christ's trial, how will they survive? In order to secure their seats in God's eternal kingdom, Christ has entered into intercessory prayer on behalf of Peter and the disciples so that they will endure the trial which is about to address them (22:31-34). Herein Luke's theme is definitely different than Mark's theme. In Mark, the focus is upon the disciples scattering in Christ's final hours, whereas in Luke the focus is upon the battle between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. Luke's picture is vivid and evident immediately: "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat (22:31)." Satan has registered his request to claim Peter and all the disciples (the "you" is plural) in this troubling hour of trial.

How should we understand Satan's request for Peter and the disciples? Luke uses the Greek word which has the literal meaning "desired to have." Satan has confronted Christ as the one who "desires to have" Peter and the disciples for his own possession. Satan claims this trial; in his arrogance, he asks to sift them as wheat. As the Evil One makes this request as Christ's great adversary, he wishes that Peter and the disciples would give their allegiance to him; he desires to take away all who rightfully belong to Christ. Although the disciples were to advance with their Master in this hour of trial, mystery and fear brought caution and hesitation. Indeed, the disciples will not only be attacked by Satan, but they will almost surrender to Satan's cause. Where is hope to be anchored for these followers of Christ?

Draw your attention to the distinct contrast between Satan's claim and Christ's prayer (22:31-32). Satan has deposited "his request," "his claim," and "his desire to have" Peter and his fellow disciples; he has "asked excessively" for them. In contrast to Satan's abrasive plot, Jesus is praying efficaciously for the perseverance of Peter and his fellow companions! Even so, as their priestly Mediator delivers his prayer, he knows that they must endure this trial. In fact, for a short time, Christ maintains that he will give the disciples into the hands of the tempter (cf. Mt. 26:31). When Christ is arrested, he even remarks that this is "the hour" of his enemies and "the power of darkness" (Lk. 22:53). Hence as Christ surrenders to those who arrest him and departs from the presence of the disciples, the only item that stands against Satan in respect to the perseverance of Christ's disciples is his prayer! Christ's prayer alone stands in opposition to the "hour and power of darkness" which his disciples face. Since it is the prayer of the sovereign Mediator—the prayer of the final High Priest—his prayer is sufficient to maintain the faith of Peter and the disciples in their trial!

Mark focused on the loneliness of Christ in his final hours (disciples scatter); Luke focused upon the redemption and compassion of Christ for the preservation of his kingdom and his church! Luke's language is straightforward concerning Christ's prayer for Peter. He prays that Peter's faith will not fail and at the same time he assures Peter that his faith will not fail when he states, "and when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers" (22:32c). Jesus already knows that his prayer is effectual; he already knows that Peter will repent. In fact, it is astounding that only in Luke's gospel do we read that Christ causes Peter's repentance! Oh yes, Peter was so brash to claim that he was ready for prison and death. But Jesus told him that he was not ready—that before the rooster crows, Peter will deny him three times (22:34). In the depth of Peter's denial, in the depth of Peter's "hour of darkness," and in the depth of Peter's iniquity and his seduction by Satan, who is there securing the redeeming effects of his own prayer? It is Jesus! Note the astounding statement found only in Luke's gospel after Peter's denial and the rooster crowed: "The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: 'Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.' And he went outside and wept bitterly" (22:61-62). Christ's penetrating and piercing gaze into the eyes of Peter brings forth the fruits of repentance! Luke's narrative is gripping. As Christ's eyes intercept Peter's eyes, Christ secures his own prayer of restoration which he offered for Peter earlier. In the hour of Christ's own deepest trial, we do not find him focusing upon himself. Rather, we see the true Servant at work; our Mediator and compassionate Savior is busy securing the redemption of Peter and the disciples in their hour of trial. In this way, Christ secures their seat at the eschatological feast as they bask in his glorious salvation!

A further observation should be made, however, about Luke's narrative. In order to capture the full impact of Christ's effectual prayer, let us return to Peter's confession that Jesus is "the Christ of God" at Caesarea Phillipi (Lk. 9:20-21). In the context of that confession, Jesus states the essential characteristic of living the gospel message: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it" (Luke 9:23-24). Connect this necessary element of denial to Christ's prayer of deliverance for Peter. Do you see the incredible work of Christ's redeeming grace on behalf of Peter? Christ's piercing look into Peter's eyes after his third denial (22:61) crucifies Peter to his own cross (9:23). Simply put, Peter is being crucified to his own cross by the penetrating, convicting eyes of his Lord. Christ's acute stare brings Peter's death to self. For this reason, Peter does not remain dead; Christ's look of mercy and compassion transforms Peter's heart to embrace the glorious truth that his life has been lost in order for it to be saved (9:24). The depth of repentance is exposed here; it means the complete and utter denial of self in our sinful natures. Luke's message is that Peter enters into this realm of repentance; one cannot live in Christ unless he has first died! Hence, Christ's gracious look takes Peter to life through death!

Indeed the prayer of our Mediator prevails against Satan and the gates of Hell (cf. Mt. 16:18). As Christ reveals his prayer at the Last Supper on behalf of Peter and his disciples, Christ assures them of their attendance at the final eschatological feast. It is assured because whatsoever Christ prays for surely comes to pass! Peter and the others will be preserved in the confession, "Jesus is the Christ of God" (Lk. 9:20b)!


Through Mark and Luke, the Holy Spirit has enriched the Church's understanding of our Savior's path to the cross. In the single story of gospel redemption, we have two pictures. For Mark, Christ's path of humiliation and suffering is one that he alone can take. In fact, Mark's narrative records exactly how abandoned our Savior was. In conformity to the prophetic voice of Christ, Peter and the disciples deserted Christ as he followed the journey to crucifixion. On the other hand, for Luke Christ's compassion and direct intercession into the lives of others continues as he faces the agony of the cross. The picture is riveting; in Christ's darkest hour on earth, he is engaged in assiduous prayer for Peter and the disciples in their hour of trial. Indeed, the two pictures are complementary: as Christ is alone (Mark's narrative), Christ does not leave his children alone (Luke's narrative). In loneliness, he actively intercedes to secure their redemption.

The complementary structure of both gospels needs one further observation. As I have focused upon the prophetic voice of Christ with respect to the desertion of Peter and the disciples in Mark's gospel, there remains in the narrative another prophetic statement offered by Christ. In Mark 14:28, Christ states, "But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you into Galilee." As Christ predicts that he will go to the cross alone, he also predicts that he will be reunited to the disciples by virtue of his resurrection. As Mark's gospel ends, it closes on this exact note—the resurrected Christ going ahead of his disciples into Galilee (16:7). Christ is a true prophet! Indeed, Mark's narrative embraces both humiliation and exaltation; Christ's path to the cross is humiliation, but the end is exaltation through his resurrection. In Christ's prophecy of ultimate humiliation comes Christ's prophecy of the victorious conception of his church. As you can see, in light of the disciples's desertion, Mark's narrative includes their restoration as well. Once again Mark and Luke are complementary: Mark shows us that Christ secures the eschatological end of the disciples through his prophetic voice (Christ's resurrection), whereas Luke shows that Christ secures the eschatological end of the disciples through prayer (final feast in Christ's kingdom). Christ is our Prophet and our Priest!

Lookout Mountain, Georgia


1 In this article, I have brought together two sermons that I have preached over the years on the passion narratives of Mark and Luke. The sermons are based upon my studies under Raymond E. Brown in the Summer of 1985 at the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana. When preached, I have used the title, "The Loneliness of Christ," for the Mark text (Mark 14:26-31); and I have used the title, "The Praying Mediator," for the Luke text (Luke 22:31-34). Although I have attempted to address some of the higher critical issues between the two narratives, it is not my purpose to turn our discussion into a highly technical deliberation. Rather, as in a sermon, I am concerned to present a response which the laity can follow as I stress the unique characteristics of each narrative for the edification of the body of Christ. These same two texts, with an emphasis on Luke's narrative, were the focus of a special chapel presentation at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania on March 7, 2000.

2 See The Westminster Confession of Faith (I:iv; I:ix; see also I:v to consult other principles that would be helpful with respect to the internal testimony of the Holy Scripture). As we confront the critical questions of the narratives, I am employing the The Westminster Confession of Faith under the apologetic directive of Cornelius Van Til. Although I am not entering into a highly technical discussion here, I hope my response to the critics will serve as a directive for pastors and laity as we maintain the integrity and authority of the Biblical canon.

3 Note that Luke's narrative remains with this theme of prayer and temptation when they withdraw to the Mount of Olives (Lk. 22:39-41).

4 Mark's passion narrative begins outside the city with the Mount of Olives (11:1). The narrative then returns to Christ and his disciples exiting the city to the Mount of Olives (14:26).

5 As I inject a reference to Matthew's gospel, one should note that Matthew's passion narrative has the same theme as Mark's—the loneliness of Christ.