041314Mark 14:32–51—Jesus in the garden

32 And they came to an olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.” 33 He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he began to be filled with horror and deep distress. 34 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and watch with me.” 35 He went on a little farther and fell face down on the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine.” 37 Then he returned and found the disciples asleep. “Simon!” he said to Peter. “Are you asleep? Couldn’t you stay awake and watch with me even one hour? 38 Keep alert and pray. Otherwise temptation will overpower you. For though the spirit is willing enough, the body is weak.” 39 Then Jesus left them again and prayed, repeating his pleadings. 40 Again he returned to them and found them sleeping, for they just couldn’t keep their eyes open. And they didn’t know what to say. 41 When he returned to them the third time, he said, “Still sleeping? Still resting? Enough! The time has come. I, the Son of Man, am betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Up, let’s be going. See, my betrayer is here!” 43 And immediately, as he said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a mob that was armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent out by the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the other leaders.  44 Judas had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I go over and give him the kiss of greeting. Then you can take him away under guard.” 45 As soon as they arrived, Judas walked up to Jesus. “Teacher!” he exclaimed, and gave him the kiss. 46 Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. 47 But someone pulled out a sword and slashed off an ear of the high priest’s servant. 48 Jesus asked them, “Am I some dangerous criminal, that you come armed with swords and clubs to arrest me? 49 Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there teaching every day. But these things are happening to fulfill what the Scriptures say about me.” 50 Meanwhile, all his disciples deserted him and ran away. 51 There was a young man following along behind, clothed only in a linen nightshirt. When the mob tried to grab him, 52 they tore off his clothes, but he escaped and ran away naked.

Points of Interest:

  • ‘My soul is crushed with grief’—Ever since Peter declared that Jesus was the Messiah and Jesus predicted that he would suffer and die, Jesus has been calm, peaceful, purposeful, and in control in the face of the fact that he would be rejected and killed. In fact, he has deliberately and unhesitatingly made his way toward the place where he knows he will be killed. Here we see what empowers Jesus to have such resolve. We see him in a private moment, and in that private moment we see that he faces the same anguish we do: he doesn’t want to suffer, and he doesn’t want to die. But he takes his questions and his weakness to God in prayer. It is prayer which gives Jesus the strength he needs to do what the Father has called him to do.
  • ‘Couldn’t you stay awake and watch with me even one hour?’—In Thursday’s passage, Jesus told them that they were to keep alert and watch until he comes again, but they don’t even have the strength to watch for one hour.
  • ‘Keep alert and pray. Otherwise temptation will overpower you’—Jesus is tempted to avoid his death, but prayer gives him the power to overcome temptation. Peter will soon face a temptation also: the temptation to deny Jesus. But rather than praying, he is sleeping. He won’t have the strength he needs to say no. Peter’s best intentions aren’t good enough: he needs the Holy Spirit to give his spirit power in prayer.
  • ‘When he returned to them the third time’—Peter falls asleep three times. A foreshadowing of his three denials.
  • ‘Am I some dangerous criminal?’—They have come to arrest Jesus, but they are the ones acting like criminals. They are lurking around, doing at night what they were afraid to do during the day when they might get caught.
  • ‘all his disciples deserted him’—As if on cue, the disciples all run away when Jesus says that the Scriptures must be fulfilled: they are scattered just like the scripture Jesus quotes in yesterday’s passage says. They gave up everything to follow him, and now they are giving up everything to run away—one man even leaves behind his clothes.

Taking it Home:

  • For you: If we are really going to follow Jesus, we need the Holy Spirit’s power. Otherwise, the temptation to choose a safer route will overwhelm us. Pray that God would give your spirit the strength to overcome your weakness.
  • For your 6: The temple guards try to portray Jesus as a criminal, but the truth is clear that they were the ones who were acting dishonestly.  Perhaps your 6 are being deceived by lies about Jesus: that he didn’t really exist, that he didn’t really say the things the Bible reports, that he is only a good moral teacher, etc. Pray that your 6 would be able to see through these lies.
  • For our church: The disciples try to save themselves by scattering, every man for himself. That’s the worst thing to do: when the sheep scatter, they can be picked off one by one. Ask God to make us a church that sticks together, that stays close to one another and to Jesus in times of trouble. Pray that God would keep us all from the temptation to try to solve our problems ourselves. And ask him to make us able by his Spirit to support one another.