Do you pray or are you prey?
We are a people that either prays for everything or not all. I don’t see a middle ground these days. The future generations I fear are not being taught how much power they can have as Christians who openly pray to the Father. Here are some examples of prayers we may hear during the course of our days.
“Please God, let me pass this test.”
“Please God, let the test be negative.”
“Please God let the test be positive.”
Today, I want to look at one particular prayer. John chapter 17 is dedicated to the prayers of Christ. I enjoy that chapter so much. I encourage you to read it. But, today, I want to look at Mark chapter 14 verses 32-37. We join Christ and His disciples prior to the arrest.
Mark 14:32-38 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray." 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled.
Jesus took eleven of His disciples with Him on the field trip to the garden. After arriving, He took three with him. The three he took were not random. He took Peter, the one He most often corrected, James, and John, the Disciple He loved. That phrase, disciple he loved, is found in the Gospel of John. These three were the ones Christ took with him to witness the transfiguration. Why did Jesus take those three with him to pray? Everything with God is a teachable element or moment. Perhaps He was using these last few moments of earthly freedom before the arrest to teach once more. Regardless of the reason, they were there. Scriptures tells in verse thirty-three he began to be deeply distressed and troubled.
A recent survey revealed that most adults hate Mondays. Rather, adults dread Mondays. Everyone reading this at some point has dreaded doing something. Whether it is an early meeting, fighting traffic, or dealing with a rough situation, we all know what it is like to dread something. Jesus was fully man and fully God. It is completely understandable that Jesus was distressed and troubled. He knew what was about to happen. He knew from day one what He had to do. Jesus’ ministry on earth lasted three years. He spoke and taught many times about His sacrifice. Just because He knew did not mean He looked forward to it.
Mark 14:34 "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," he said to them. "Stay here and keep watch."
Why did He say that about His soul? Perhaps it was to show the disciples that sadness is a part of life, but it does not control it. He tells the disciples to stay and keep watch. Jesus knew what was coming. He knew His time had come. He wanted the disciples to witness the ordeal.
Mark 14:35-36 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 "Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."
Jesus’ prayer is the reason for this message. First of all, the He prayed that if possible, let this hour pass from Him. This where many people who do not believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior of all mankind, jump up and say, “See he is a sinner! He didn’t want to die!”
Jesus being fully God and fully man allowed His humanity to come out. Was He saying that just for Himself alone in the garden? No. Christians know that all scripture is God-Breathed. Jesus said many times that all He said was not for Himself, but He spoke what God the Father wanted. We are to take this prayer that looks like weakness and understand just how powerful Christ is and was even in the moment before the arrest. He is powerful not just because He is God, the Son, but because He lives for the will of the Father.
Jesus demonstrates the simple truth that God is the master of all. In verse thirty-six Jesus says, "Abba, Father, everything is possible for you.”
That is a problem for so many non-believers and also Christian people. We try to take everything on our shoulders and live without God until bad luck tragedies strike. There’s no such thing as luck by the way. We live life and so many times never stop to actually think about or realize how truly powerful our Savior is. We never really focus that as scripture teaches, All things are possible with God.” The first part of the prayer was Jesus speaking that God has no limitations.
Verse thirty-six continues with the Lord saying, “Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will." The cup in question is not the Holy Grail as many King Arthur legends dictate, but it is referring to the cross, cavalry, the beatings, and the ultimate sacrifice. Humble, humility, compassion, loving, healing, and compassionate are adjectives that often go along any description of Christ. The last part of verse thirty-six always hits me and knocks the breath out of me. How many of us do things for the church or other people out of pride and or guilt? How many of us go on about what we have done for ourselves, family, or old so and so even though we had troubles all our own? Many times we pat our backs thinking we have done something big when really all we have done is take our eyes off Jesus and the cross. Yes, especially you Christians. I am talking to you, too. I am talking to myself as well. The Christian does not and should not live anymore four own selfish desires. “Yet not what I will, but what you will."
“God, I’m sorry. I’ll live for you. I’ll do what you want!” The hardest thing we as a people have to realize as new Christians and mature Christians is that life is never about us. God owns every aspect of our life. We, if we are to grow in our faith and our walk with Christ must give up the notion that we need to do what we want, when we want it, without thinking of what God has planned for us.
Mark 14:37-38 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Simon," he said to Peter, "are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."
Jesus returns to his disciples. Most of us if we were in His position would have stood there, hands on the hips, mouth wide open and screaming.
“Here I am about to be arrested, beat down, and crucified, and you losers can’t stay awake to be my look outs? Losers!”
Christ obviously did not do this. He spoke to Peter first by calling him Simon. God as I have said in the past is the master of rhetorical questions. He asked Peter, "are you asleep?” We know that Christ knew Peter was asleep. Christ continues speaking. “Could you not keep watch for one hour?”
How should we as Christians defeat temptations in our lives? The most logical answer is to not put ourselves in situations where we can slip or mess up. This is exactly what Christ tells not the three disciples that were with Him, but all of us, Christian or otherwise. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” Temptation comes in many shapes. We must be on our guard by watching. Satan is always looking for anyone he can destroy. Not only are we to watch, but Jesus said pray. God hears the prayers of his children. He, as scriptures teach, inclines his ears to the Christian prayer. We are must have a healthy prayer life if we are to grow in Christ. If all you do is say prayers before you eat and before sleep, you are not where you need to be! I’m not judging anyone, but the Word of God should convict you to spend time with the very One who gave His life so that you can have the power, and the ability to spend eternity in Heaven with the Father rather than an eternity burning and suffering in Hell.
Each generation since Adam has lived less I suppose it could be said. Our bodies, biologically speaking, despite how we care for them will only last a little while. Genetics and the environment do influence our body makeup, but long before issues of DNA were discovered, the Creator of all life, Jesus Christ stated the most obvious truth in regard to our physical bodies.
Mark 14:38 “The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."
Jesus not only was speaking directly to his sleepy disciples, noticeably Peter by name, but also to all who will read His words. “The spirit is willing, but the body is weak" refers not just to the body’s need for rest, but it can be applied to every other so called need, want, and or addiction. How many Christians do we know, or maybe we are that Christian that has say not lived a perfect life and given in to something. True, the moment we give in to whatever sin it is, we are convicted by The Holy Spirit. Many non-believers and even other Christians argue, “If you really are a Christian, you would not do such and such.”
On face value, that statement appears to be truthful. Christians don’t praise Jesus on Sunday morning then cuss someone out, and flip people off on Sunday afternoon only to go sing some praise on Sunday night. People who have made Jesus Christ lord of their life will live lives that reflect their devotion to Christ, yes, but as Jesus Himself stated to His followers, “The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." We, meaning Christians, are going to mess up. We are going to fail daily. But here is the real problem of that statement concerning the body. We are saved by Grace alone. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” The problem is that as a people saved by God’s Grace, we think we can live anyway we choose, do whatever to whoever, whenever, and think that good old Jesus knows my heart. He knows I’m sorry for doing it. Again, the person who is sold out to God, has truly given his heart to Christ will not carry on in the sinful ways he did before coming and asking Christ to save him. The Christian will avoid the temptations of life as Christ directed. The Christian will as Jesus instructed stay awake and pray as a means to avoid the snares of sin and temptation.