Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday, November 21st Mark 14:32-42

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Ezekiel 41-42, 1 John 3
Today's scripture focus is Mark 14:32-42

Mark 14:32-42English Standard Version (ESV)

Jesus Prays in Gethsemane

32 And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. 34 And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” 35 And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 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.” 37 And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? 38 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. 40 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. 41 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. 42 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
Accompanying John MacArthur sermon: The Agony of the Cup
Accompanying Robert Rayburn sermon: Gethsemane


The Lord had told his disciples many times over the past year that he was going to Jerusalem to be arrested and killed. He entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday in a way designed to throw down the gauntlet to the religious authorities and to precipitate their plans to seek his death. His public teaching during the days of the Passion Week was such as to offend and provoke the priests and scribes still further. The Lord knew what was coming. Far from acting to prevent it, he hurried it along. He had come into the world precisely for this and his hour had come. No one took his life from him; as he once said, he laid it down of his own accord.

But, and this has often surprised and even troubled readers of the Gospels, before the cross came Gethsemane, a moment in which the entire matter of the Savior’s calling and purpose was reconsidered. As the agony of his death drew very near, the Lord passed through a crisis of his own. At this last hour, would he continue to surrender his will to that of his Heavenly Father? Would he continue on the course that had been set for him and that he had so obediently followed those past three years? As it turned out, our salvation – yours and mine – in a manner of speaking was won not on Golgotha or Calvary, but in an olive grove on the lower slopes of the Mount of Olives. Once the Lord Jesus finally and conclusively submitted his will to that of the Father in heaven, the triumph of the cross was assured. But that submission was itself an act of supreme and terrible self-surrender.

Rayburn brings up a few mysteries about this passage, including how Jesus is very clearly "man" in this passage, having set aside His deity.

He also makes a great point that it is not suffering and death that Jesus is dreading here.  Obviously, He's not looking forward to it, but that's not the cause of this struggle.  (Sorry this quote is so lengthy, but I had not really thought of it in this way before, and really appreciate this perspective).

What caused him to recoil from the entire purpose of his life at this last hour?
“…of one thing we may be certain: it was not fear of death that made Jesus shrink. Many martyrs have faced the last hour unflinching with a song upon their lips – and Jesus was braver than them all. It was not death that made him cry to God; it was sin. It was the shame of all the world, the burden of all the sons of men, which in that dread hour he was taking upon his own sinless heart. It was the sudden sense of sin’s sheer horror and loathsomeness and Godforsakenness. It was, as Paul with characteristic daring expressed it, one who ‘knew no sin’ being ‘made sin’ for men.” [J.S. Stewart, The Life and Teaching of Jesus Christ, 150-151]
In ways we cannot begin to understand Jesus was facing damnation as a sinner in our place. He was facing the prospect of the wrath of God, the eternal divine enmity against sin falling upon him as a sinner because he was to take our sin upon himself in some way no merely human mind can begin to comprehend. A man who was without sin, who had spent his entire life resisting every temptation to its bitter end, a man who had in himself a perfect disgust and abhorrence and fear of sin, a man whose life had been lived in perfect communion with God because he had no sin, was about to become, as Luther put it, the greatest sinner that ever lived and be treated and punished by God as such.
Every effort you ever make to understand that results in your minimizing what the Lord faced and feared and eventually endured. You cannot understand Gethsemane because you do not understand or grasp your own sin and have very little grasp of the wrath of God against sin and the hatred of God for sin.

Oh, our sins trouble us from time to time, but not very much and not for very long. We are sinners and we are very well used to sin. And though as Christians we know we ought to hate our sins, truth be told our problem with our sins stems in large part from the fact that we love them so much. In our worship in this church from time to time we ask of God that he would forgive our secret sins. We do not mean by “secret sins” the sins that we know about but that others do not. There is a world of such sin in our lives we know. But that is not what we mean by “secret sins.” By secret sins we mean our sins that God knows and we do not. They are a secret even to us. We live our lives day by day utterly unaware of the fact that we are sinning against God and man in thought, word, and deed. And this actually must be the largest part of our sin and sinning. The part of our sin that we know and feel is the smallest part of our sin.

Surely the worst of our sins are our sins of omission. The things we ought to do, the love we ought to give to God and man that we do not do and do not give; why, we don’t even think of giving it. It is not as if we knew we should do this or love in this way but nevertheless do not. That happens often enough. But much more often it never occurs to us what we should have thought, should have said, should have done. Day after day, we breathe iniquity like air and drink it like water and are largely oblivious. That is how sinful we are! It is utterly natural to us. We are utterly thoughtless sinners so much of the time.

And natural as sin is to us, try as we might we can’t begin to fear it or hate it as Jesus did. We never see our sin as God sees it. We are never revolted by it as God is. It never makes us as angry as it does him. The thought of bearing it doesn’t cause us to recoil. And the thought of God’s judgment of it, while it strikes fear in our hearts from time to time, is sufficiently bearable to us that we don’t think of it and don’t fear it almost all of the time. People like us cannot enter into what a person like Jesus was thinking and feeling that night in Gethsemane. It is a mystery to us and it will remain a mystery perhaps even to some extent after we have beheld the divine glory and have found out what it is really like to have a sinless heart.

Jesus, the sinless one, was so identifying himself with sinners that he was about to treated as the worst of sinners by the holy God. He and he alone could feel the terror of that! No, the mystery of all of this – the mystery of the very person of Jesus Christ and the mystery of sin – I say the mystery of Gethsemane leaves us out, with the disciples. We may as well be asleep for all that we would or could understand. It was a sin for them to fall asleep; a despicable act of disloyalty, an utter failure to appreciate the moment. But had they stayed awake, they wouldn’t have grasped what Jesus was facing.

This was a meeting of Father and Son over realities they and they alone understood. Our salvation is so little our achievement and so much God’s gift to us, that we can’t even begin to understand how it was achieved or what it required. Our salvation was secured when Jesus’ love for his Father and for us led him to say, “Abba, not what I will, but what you will.” Eternal life was gained for impossibly small people by those impossibly large words!

Monday's scripture focus: Mark 14:43-52
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Ezekiel 43-44
Sunday's passage: Ezekiel 45-46
Monday's passage: Ezekiel 47-48, 1 John 4

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