Friday, November 09, 2018

Devotional: Be Ready For The Gethsemane Moment, Mark 14:32-52

Mark 14.32-52 outline

After Jesus’ Passover meal with this disciples, he took them to Gethsemane which was their customary place to get away, rest and pray. In this section, Mark contrasts the response of Jesus to the coming crisis of his death to that of the disciples. Jesus, in tune with the Father, knew what was coming while the disciples, still blind to the will of the Father, were oblivious. Jesus, knowing his need for strength and support, calls his friends to watch and pray with him, while the disciples, sure of their own sufficiency, sleep. When the crisis comes Jesus handles it with quiet faith in the Father’s plan, a willingness to face persecution without resorting to violence or revenge, and faces his betrayers and killers with a courage that comes from a deep commitment to and understanding of his mission from God. The disciples respond with confusion, fear, useless violence, and end up running in every direction except the right one and fade away into the night. They had not listened carefully to Jesus and so they were not ready for the crisis when it came.

Mark presents a very human Jesus to us in Gethsemane. He provides the example of how we are to respond to persecution and betrayal. Thus, Jesus’ godly response will lead to the redemption and restoration of, not only his blind and sleeping disciples, but also that of his persecutors, deniers and killers. He approaches the Father in the crisis as he trained his disciples to pray: “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” But even as he prayed for deliverance, he was also willing to face the worst this world could deal out if that was the Father’s plan. This provides the model for how are to handle sickness, difficulty, trials, betrayals, pain and anything else we must face. The cry of lament (all through the Old Testament) and appeal for relief is not a lack of faith, but a result of deep faith that trusts a good God to accomplish his plan in a chaotic, sinful world. Jesus understood his dependence on the Father, lived a life of prayer and so, was ready for the crisis when it came.

The disciples, especially Peter, had continued to insist on their own agenda for Jesus, had insisted that they were able to serve Jesus in their own strength and thus failed to hear what he had been saying over and over. This is why Jesus points to Simon (not Peter, the “rock” yet”) and says, “Aren’t you strong enough to watch for one hour!” Peter and the others had not yet learned to depend on God to overcome the weakness of their human flesh. We are no different than they are. The essence of temptation is to get us to trust in our own sufficiency, follow our own plan and pursue self fulfillment. Jesus was ready because he was a man of prayer and he was a man of prayer because even he knew he needed the Spirit's power and insight.

Thus it appeared that all was lost. Jesus was taken into custody. The disciples were scattered and powerless. It seemed that the betrayers and killers had won. But Jesus could face this crisis the way he did because he knew the Father and he knew the Father’s plan would even defeat death.. We can be ready too when crisis strikes, by following his example.

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