Mark 14:27-42 NLTse On the way, Jesus told them, “All of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, ‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ (28) But after I am raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.” (29) Peter said to him, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.” (30) Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter–this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” (31) “No!” Peter declared emphatically. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the others vowed the same. (32) They went to the 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 became deeply troubled and distressed. (34) He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” (35) He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. (36) “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (37) Then he returned and found the disciples asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? (38) Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” (39) Then Jesus left them again and prayed the same prayer as before. (40) When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they 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, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But no–the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. (42) Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”
Once the key words are highlighted, we clearly see Jesus’ grief. This is Jesus’ greatest time of need. Are the disciples ready to provide the support He needs? We also notice how Peter is singled out. One other key word to pay attention to is the forms of sleep used. What does a group of sleeping disciples represent? Why were they sleeping when Jesus needed them most?
While Jesus shared His last supper with His disciples, He once again tried to explain symbols He talked about years ago. It was back near the beginning of His ministry when He told them and the religious leaders He was the Bread from Heaven. “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. Yes, I am the bread of life! (John 6:47-48 NLTse). Jesus took the bread at the table, broke it into pieces, passed it to each disciples and told them to eat. With a cup of wine, Jesus showed them a symbol of His blood. Years ago Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. (John 6:53 NLTse).
After all those years, parables and miracles, the disciples still didn’t understand. Only hours from His death, Jesus told them, “All of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, ‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.” They all wondered what Jesus meant by deserting Him. The disciples had as much understanding of what Jesus meant by saying, “For the Scriptures say, ‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered,” as they had about the bread and blood. Jesus knew how dull their understanding was, still He faced the fulfillment of all the prophecies with the faith that carried Him this far.
What Jesus needed most was a friend, someone to listen as He faced what was in the prophecies about Himself. He attempted to reveal those prophecies during the Passover supper, but once again they changed the subject. “Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you can’t come where I am going. So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them. (John 13:33-35, Luke 22:24 NLTse).
Nothing hurt Jesus more then going to the cross alone. He knew His sacrifice was the only way to save this world. Jesus knew, one day His disciples would understand, not only what was about to happen, but all the lessons He taught them through personal experience, parables, and or course — how to see and understand scripture and the plan of salvation. Jesus and His Spirit worked generations, influencing one prophet after another, giving each a little glimpse of the plan of salvation. It began in Eden, extended through the fall of Jerusalem, and past Israel’s release from Babylon. Hundreds of prophecies revealed over thousands of years — all pointing to this day. Jesus gained strength as He reviewed a number of them in His mind. Suddenly they became too graphic for Him to bear alone. As the walked up the mountain to the garden Jesus stopped, turned to His disciples and tried one last time to share His grief with them. “After I am raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.” Jesus thought about a Psalm to give Himself a measure of comfort.
I cry out to the LORD; I plead for the LORD’s mercy. I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my troubles. When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn. Wherever I go, my enemies have set traps for me. I look for someone to come and help me, but no one gives me a passing thought! No one will help me; no one cares a bit what happens to me. Then I pray to you, O LORD. I say, “You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life. Hear my cry, for I am very low. Rescue me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me. Bring me out of prison so I can thank you. The godly will crowd around me, for you are good to me.”
(Psalms 142:1-7 NLTse)
Something told Jesus, if His grief was too much for Him to bear, it would be far too much for His disciples to comprehend. Peter completely missed Jesus’ statement about His death. Peter was still thinking how others would desert Jesus, so Peter stepped forward and said, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.” It made Jesus feel a little better for a moment, until He realized Peter missed the spiritual meaning of the scene. Jesus knew there was still a lot Peter needed to learn. Jesus also knew the Spirit was not going to give up on Peter who was about to learn the importance of looking back on every detail. It was only a matter of establishing the proper sequence of events so Peter could not help but see the pattern. To begin the lesson Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter–this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” Not only the clear, concise words, the tone in Jesus’ voice and the look on His face cut Peter like a knife. Without thinking, Peter answered. “No!” Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the others vowed the same.
Hearing the others follow his lead by adding their own declarations calmed Peter’s fears for the moment. It made him feel like a leader again. As far as Peter was concerned, His quick thinking once again brought everything back in order.
They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.” He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. Jesus took the same three disciples with Him to the garden that went up on the mountain to see Moses and Elijah. There Jesus showed them an example of relationships He wanted them to learn from. He wanted them to remember the lessons taught when they saw Moses and Elijah come down from Heaven to comfort Him. The lesson was supposed to stay with them, so they could comfort Jesus in His hour of need. How could they forget the time a cloud overshadowed them, with a voice from the cloud saying, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.” (Mark 9:7 NLTse). How could they forget hearing God’s voice? Jesus told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” It seemed dinner and the events of the evening were getting the best of the three. After Peter’s latest grasp at leadership, James and John had nothing more to say to him.
The competition between His disciples did not go unnoticed. Jesus looked at them for a moment. They could tell by the look on Jesus’ face, He knew what they were thinking. Once again Jesus turned to the only One He knew would listen and understand. Jesus went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. A million texts went through Jesus’ mind. He saw the prophecies about His life – now only hours away from being fulfilled. His mind moved from one text to another. “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me.” Suddenly other scripture came to mind. Jesus remembered His relationship with Adam, bending down to take out a rib to form Eve, His relationship with the two of them, and the world as He created it. Jesus also thought about parting the Red Sea, watching David grow up as a boy, and listening to the long prayers Daniel offered. Jesus heard His Father’s answer in a million words that seemed to come in a second. At last Jesus added, “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
Jesus began His short journey back to the disciples. He held His hands out in front of His face to protect His eyes from the leaves and branches along the dark path. Branches, twigs and thorns pulled at His garment along with the occasional burr that clung to His cloak, hitching a ride to spread a new crop of seeds where ever they eventually landed. Through tear stained eyes Jesus made out the image of the three disciples sleeping. God’s Spirit wanted Jesus to see the state of the world He was about to die for. Only a few were alert when He was born. Only a few cared to spend enough time to read the scriptures with an open heart. Only a few paid any attention to His parables and miracles. Yes many came to listen to Him, but forgot most of the lessons soon after leaving. Still there were a few – the woman with the issue of blood along with the young ruler who saw Jesus raise His daughter to life – the man freed from thousands of demons, the foreign woman, the woman at the well, and of course Mary. Then he returned and found the disciples asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour?”
Jesus singled out Peter because He knew Peter considered himself their leader for the moment. Jesus gave Peter a taste of what it is to be a leader. Jesus told Peter the most important lesson he needed to learn if he wanted a leadership role. “Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
Once again Jesus repeated one of the most important lessons He gave to His disciples, how to pray and rely on the Spirit. Without these traits Peter would be unfit for the role in front of him. Jesus looked at the surprised look on Peter’s face wondering why he was singled out. Jesus saw no need to explain. Looking back on past events, praying about them and listening for answers was all part of the process and qualifications of leadership.
Then Jesus left them again and prayed the same prayer as before. Once again scripture after scripture come to mind. They came at such a fast pace Jesus found it difficult to comprehend how all of them applied to the circumstance. This made Jesus remember His Father promised to be with Him throughout His life. The Sovereign LORD has given me his words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary. Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will. The Sovereign LORD has spoken to me, and I have listened. I have not rebelled or turned away. I offered my back to those who beat me and my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard. I did not hide my face from mockery and spitting. Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I will not be put to shame. (Isaiah 50:4-7 NLTse)
At last Jesus saw the answer. It was His decision. His Father left the final decision up to Jesus. Then one scripture rested on Jesus’ mind. Give to the LORD the glory he deserves! Bring your offering and come into his presence. Worship the LORD in all his holy splendor. (1 Chronicles 16:29 NLTse). Jesus clearly discerned the message. His sacrifice was not only to save people with true faith in Him, but to honor the name of His Father. What would become of His Kingdom if the prophecies were not fulfilled? His Father’s reputation was at stake. Suddenly Jesus saw how small He was. It now seemed like such a small thing to do — sacrifice Himself for His Farther. What better way to show His love for His Farther? There was no better way. Jesus realized His life meant nothing without love for His Farther. Unfailing love and faithfulness make atonement for sin. (Proverbs 16:6 NLTse). Looking back, Jesus realized His sacrifice served many purposes. His entire ministry was based upon showing this world how much God loved them, and how to return that love. Jesus’ sacrifice was a symbol of that love. His sacrifice will also cover the sins of this world. Without it the world would perish. Jesus’ love for this world was also a reflection of God’s love for His creation throughout His Kingdom.
When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. And they didn’t know what to say. Then Jesus left them again and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42 NLTse). Jesus found the courage and dedication He needed. There was no doubt in His mind the three disciples feet away relied on Him — His other disciples relied on Him — the world relied in Him — the host of Heaven watched with interest as God’s plan of salvation unfolded, and His Father deserved His sacrifice. Jesus was ready to fulfill prophecy.
When he returned to them the third time, he said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But no–the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”
What kind of emotions do you think Jesus is going through when it is time for Him to judge the living? What kind of support is Jesus asking from us in the last moments of the harvest? It seems the world is sleeping like the disciples in the garden. The spiritual symbol of the disciples sleeping in a garden while the plan of salvation is unfolding is a warning we cannot ignore. Another point which cannot not be ignored in this message is the fact the disciples could not understand God’s plan of salvation because they did not listen to Jesus when He tried to explain the prophecies He was about to fulfill. Today Christians of every faith throughout the world are asleep, unaware of God’s plan of salvation and ignoring the Holy Spirit’s pleas to learn details about the prophecies Jesus fulfilled. It is the message Satan fears the most. Like the disciples, every Christian denomination changes the subject when the Spirit tries to reveal the prophecies about Jesus. They all change the subject to who is the greatest. Christians love to argue about who is the greatest — who knows future prophecy better than any other denomination. Jesus knew this would happen and warned against it. Christians also love to argue about what to eat, wear, even how and what day to worship. All of these arguments are meaningless to God, because everyone ignored His Son in His hour of need.