MAY 8, 2016
MAIN TEXT: MARK 14:26-52
And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 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.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same.
And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.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.” And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. 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. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed him. And they laid hands on him and seized him. But one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. And Jesus said to them,“Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.” And they all left him and fled.
And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.
You may be tempted when you are suffering to think that you are alone and no one understands what you are going through. Whenever we experience suffering or difficulty, words usually provide little comfort. Good friends who mean well often can say things that are unhelpful. We are often left wondering, does anybody really know my pain? Can anyone really feel my sorrow? Will anyone be able to truly comfort me in my distress? Those questions linger in our minds, but the reality is that there is one who identifies with our deepest pain and suffering.
As we walk through the Gospel of Mark, we come to the final third of this book which highlights the passion of Jesus–his progression toward the cross. In our passage for today, we see Jesus as truly the suffering servant. He is denied by his friend, abandoned by those closest to him, betrayed by one who served under him and given over not only to death but to drink the very wrath of God. Jesus can identify with our weakness and our pain.
The King Would Be Abandoned and Left Alone
After sharing the passover meal and singing together, Jesus tells his disciples that they will scatter away from him when he is struck down. This fulfills a prophecy that was told hundreds of years earlier by the prophet Zechariah, “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered” (Zechariah 13:7). The disciples disagree that this will take place, yet, as we see later, this is exactly what would happen.
We often times do not realize how weak and finite we actually are. If we’re honest, we like to think the best of ourselves, even if our track record and tendencies show otherwise. Jesus was willing to be abandoned and left all alone for our sake. He was willing to have his closest friends leave him in his moment of trouble. This he did for us, that we in our moment of trouble would have a friend. Jesus predicted that they would abandon him, but he says to us, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Jesus is the King who was willing to walk alone to glory God and ensure that we would walk through suffering with a friend.
The King Would Agonize Over His Passion Alone
Jesus took his disciples to the Mount of Olives, to a garden called Gethsemane (“olive press”). As they arrived, he instructed the inner three, Peter, James and John, to join him venturing further into the garden, but the eight other disciples to stay. He then instructed the three to remain and watch as he went further still into the garden to pray. Jesus’ prayer offered up to his Father, shows desperation and pain like no other moment in history. Jesus addresses his father using an intimate term “Abba” and then declares the great sovereignty of God over all things. His request comes after, “Remove this cup from me” which shows that this cup was not to be desired, but rather, despised. For this cup contained the very wrath of God to be pouring out on sin. The magnitude of this gripped Jesus and yet he willingly gives himself to his Father’s good purposes saying “not what I will, but what you will.”
The writer of Hebrews says, “...for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame…” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus was in agony. Jesus was alone. His disciples did not wait and watch, they slept as he suffered.
Faithful waiting is perhaps one of the most difficult postures to carry as a Christ-follower. Purposeful patience is not a virtue that is exalted in our culture. We value speed, efficiency, and progress. These ‘virtues’ can become vices for us who live not according to the patterns of this world, but according to the Kingdom of our God. We are the three who slept. We are Peter, James and John, who grew weary of waiting and fell victim to the appetites of their body. When we are faithless, Jesus remains faithful. He does not sleep, but rather intercedes for us even now (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25).
The King Would Be Arrested and Forsaken Alone
Jesus’ betrayer came quickly or, We look at distain at Judas for what he did and yet, we must not deceive ourselves to think that we are innocent, for we have all betrayed the one who made us. We have all turned aside and become worthless (Romans 3:12). Our state is more closely aligned with Judas than Jesus. In many ways, he is much closer to us than we like to imagine or think. Yet, God has chosen in his mercy and grace to save us sinners. In this, he gives what we do not deserve and reorders our love to match his design.
Our passage discusses a garden, but we should not too quickly forgot about another garden. An original garden, where Adam said to God, “Not your will but mine” and we turned away from our loving Father to follow our own path of destruction and death. Years later, God sends of himself and Jesus (the second Adam) sits in agony, alone in another garden, but says to his good Father, “not what I will, but what you will.”
APPLY TO LIFE
This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing as you open God’s Word together.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
DISCUSS THE MESSAGE
Read: Mark 14:26-52
Do you regularly ponder and meditate on Jesus Christ and what He has done for you? What thoughts have produced the most serious meditation? What thoughts have led to the most joyous praise?
In what areas of temptation might you be susceptible to pride and say, “I would never do that”? How do Proverbs 16:18 and 1 Corinthians 10:12 address that attitude?
Have you ever been determined to pray, but you fell asleep? What causes this? How might you improve your ability to “stay awake and pray” (14:38)?