Friday, July 30, 2010

"Couldn't You Watch With Me Even One Hour?"

Mark 14:32-38  
  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.”

How might you be when your beloved friend is facing the greatest crisis moment of his life? Jesus had lead, taught, served, and served and served his disciples for three years. He had modeled what it means to be a servant and they continued to not grasp it in spite of his perfect teaching. The larger group were asked to pray while he moved of to do so alone. The insider leadership team were taken apart and asked to pray especially heard within earshot of the Lord's own praying. Had they realized, by then, that this was God, they would have overcome their greater concern for rest and focused on praying along with him.

Here we read the classic instance of the redeemer of mankind coming face to face with the need to subordinate his preferences to God's and give himself over to the sacrifice for humanity's benefit. Humanity had not, and would not-- recognize him, yet he was called upon by the Father to die for their forgiveness of sin. It was not an automatic-- the Lord had to say yes and permit it. He could have stopped it. He could have said 'no thanks'  He could have gone some other direction. All options were open to him. However he had left heaven voluntarily at the Fathers request. He had come with the Father's message. He had lived the selfless and sinless life in the eyes of fallen humanity. He came for this one single purpose-- to sacrifice himself and redeem fallen humankind. Even as he wrestled with the decision, in conversation with God and in the hearing of the three insiders, they did not pray as he asked. And the other seven did not pray as He had asked them either. They all drifted off to sleep. They all paid attention to their own bodies and not His heart.

We have to wonder if we should be any better, even knowing what we know today. In fact, Jesus does ask us to sit and watch with Him and pray-- every day. Yet we find so many things to distract us and change our focus. Jesus does not berate us or punish us for our own failure to prayer-- our failure to live humbly, our failure to love unconditionally, our failure to set aside our own priorities. He loves us and continues to call us to a life of selflessness- a life of humility according to His example, a life of unconditional love for others. He calls us right now to awaken and pray with Him. Shall we not do this for the one we call "King of Kings and Lord of Lords?"

Your servant in His Love
Dan Elliott

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