Alone

Posted: August 25, 2014 in Mark

Mark 14:27-42, “Alone”

Have you ever been truly alone?  Everyone spends time by themselves (sometimes we need to be alone for a while), but have you ever been so alone that you felt abandoned?  Have you ever been left by those whom you needed the most?  That’s what happened to Jesus on the night of His arrest.  Just a few hours before Jesus suffered for the sins of His disciples (and the sins of the whole world), Jesus was abandoned by His disciples.  They may have still been in His physical presence (though they wouldn’t be for long), but spiritually speaking they had already checked out.  One moment they were swearing that they would never forsake Him; the next they were asleep in a garden.

Thankfully Jesus does not abandon us in the same way.  We forsake Him, but He never forsakes us.  He was faithful to the mission given Him by God, and through laborious prayer and humility, Jesus went to the cross where He was not only abandoned by the disciples but even momentarily by His Father, by sad necessity.

Jesus went alone into His sufferings.  But thankfully, His abandoned suffering was not in vain.  He rose from the grave, and reconciled those who had abandoned Him back to Himself.  He offers to do the same with all of us.  Because Jesus was willing to be abandoned, we never have to be.  He reaches out to us in His love and grace.

Mark 14:27–42
27 Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered.’

  1. Much attention is put upon Judas and Peter on the night of the last supper – and understandably so.  Although the other 11 did not seem to understand, Jesus had identified Judas as the one who would betray the Lord unto His death, and Peter is about to debate Jesus about his own denial.  Both of those disciples certainly stumbled that night, though to far different ends.  (Judas stumbled into despair and gave himself over to the devil; Peter stumbled but at least came back in eventual repentance.)  But Judas and Peter weren’t the only ones.  Jesus said: “ALL of you will be made to stumble…”  Not a single disciple would stay loyal to the Lord Jesus that night – not Peter, not John, not anyone.
  2. What would happen to them?  They would “stumble” or “become offended” on Jesus’ account.  Some translations say “will fall away,” but that may be going a bit far as it implies that the 11 disciples somehow lose their faith or the promise of salvation.  Apart from Judas, none of the disciples completely fell into apostasy that night.  The original word is interesting: σκανδαλίζω – “to catch in a snare/cause of disaster,” ~ “scandal.”  We could legitimately say that all the apostles were “scandalized” that night.  The 11 did not completely fall away from the faith, but they certainly had things shaken up that night to a point of utter disaster.
    1. Ever find this happening to you?  If it happened to the 11 apostles, it could happen to any of us.  Anyone can trip up – anyone can fall.  Anyone no matter how spiritual they might believe themselves to be, can find themselves stumbling and scandalized in faith.  Our faith may temporarily fail from time to time, but that doesn’t make us a failure forever.  God doesn’t give up on us; neither should we.  That said, don’t ever assume that you are immune.  ALL of us can fail.  Take heed and stay humble.
  3. Was God surprised by their scandalous fall?  Not at all.  In fact, it was specifically stated in prophecy.  Zechariah 13:7, "“Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, Against the Man who is My Companion,” Says the LORD of hosts. “Strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered; Then I will turn My hand against the little ones." []  Contextually in Zechariah, God had spoken of a day of judgment in which all Israel would look upon the Messiah that they had pierced (Zech 12:10).  In that day, false shepherds, false prophets and other evil leaders would try to hide the evil they had done in an attempt to escape the judgment of God.  That’s when God contrasts the True Shepherd with the false ones, and looks back to the moment that the Shepherd was pierced – how the Companion of God had been struck down.  Zechariah (as did most of the OT prophets) saw the first and second comings of Jesus in one broad sweep, but this is a direct prophecy of how the Messiah would be killed and His followers scattered (and later persecuted).
    1. Notice the one addition Jesus makes in the text: the “strike” is not a command to others; it’s something that God Himself does.  “I WILL strike the Shepherd…”  Jesus’ suffering was by the will and hand of God.  From the foundation of the world…  Isaiah 53:10, "Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand." []
  4. Notice “the sheep will be scattered,” but that they never stop being part of the Shepherd’s flock.  They may be scandalized, stumbled, and scattered, but they are never fully separated from their relationship with the Good Shepherd.  That’s what Jesus goes on to affirm in vs. 28…

28 “But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”

  1. Jesus had given some pretty sober prophecies that night, but this was different.  Earlier, Jesus had told them that the Son of Man would be betrayed by one of the disciples in the room, that His body would be broken and His blood would be shed, and that He would be going away (as seen in the gospel of John).  Although looking back, we can see exactly what Jesus meant by all of this, at the time, this was terrible and sorrowful news for the disciples.  But Jesus didn’t leave them there.  He goes on to give two of the most wonderful prophecies as a follow-up.  First, there was the promise of resurrection.  “After I have been raised.”  Jesus would indeed die, but He would not stay dead.  He made that plain from the very beginning.
  2. Second, there was the promise of restoration. “I will go before you to Galilee.” Jesus was not finished with the disciples.  They may scatter from Him for a time, but they would not be forever estranged from Jesus.  He had a plan for them – even to the point of commissioning them to go into all the world as His ambassadors.  That’s quite a task for a group of men that would scatter away from Him in His hour of need!  Yet that was exactly the plan He had for them.  He had something future in mind: reconciliation and restoration.
  3. Please don’t gloss over this!  Without the things Jesus affirms in vs. 28, we would not have the gospel (“the good news”) of Jesus to proclaim!  If Jesus had been betrayed over to the priests and Pharisees to be killed, but never raised from the dead, then it wouldn’t matter what He said about His body being broken for us & His blood being shed for us.  Without the resurrection of Jesus, His death may have been a tragedy, but that is ALL it would have been.  We would have no proof that He is the Son of God, and we would have no assurance that the price for sin had been paid.  All of that is wrapped up in His resurrection, and without it we have nothing. …  In addition, what good is the resurrection if there is no invitation to restoration?  The whole point in God sending Jesus to die on the cross for sin & rise from the grave was that His justice could be satisfied and that humans could be reconciled to their Creator.  If Jesus paid the price for sin, but never extended an invitation to anyone to be saved, that would be horrible & hopeless!  Yet Jesus DOES extend that invitation!  He specifically shows the disciples here that they would be received back into relationship with Him, and it emphasizes for all of us that Jesus invites us to experience the true grace and forgiveness of God.
    1. Have you personally experienced this?  Do you have faith that Jesus rose from the grave?  Have you personally entered into a living relationship with the living Jesus, and been reconciled with God?  If not, today is the day that you can.

29 Peter said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be.”

  1. On one hand, the gall that Peter demonstrates here is truly amazing.  He truly believes that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Mt 16:16), and yet Peter has the arrogance to flatly deny a direct prophecy of his Lord.  On the other hand, most of us can probably relate.  Obviously we haven’t stood eye-to-eye with the Lord Jesus and told Him He was wrong, but most born-again Christians have probably denied the word of God at some point in the past.  We’ve read the Scripture, and we didn’t believe what was written.  Or we knew that God the Holy Spirit was moving upon us to do something, and we simply refused to budge.  Our disobedience or lack of faith is no different than the apostle Peter’s.
  2. Not only did Peter deny the Lord Jesus, but he elevates himself above the other 10 disciples.  THEY might all fall into scandal, but not HIM.
    1. Beware ego.  Beware pride.  It can be the ruin of any one of us.  Again, there is no Christian that is too “spiritual” or “mature” to fall into ruinous sin.  If it happens to ANY of us, it could happen to EACH of us.

30 Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” 31 But he spoke more vehemently, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And they all said likewise.

  1. Jesus affirms that Peter will indeed stumble – in fact, that night, he would completely deny even knowing Jesus.  It’s not wise to argue with Someone who knows the future, yet that’s exactly what Peter does.  He doubles-down on his denial, virtually swearing an oath to the opposite of what Jesus said.  Sadly, it wouldn’t be the only time in 24 hours that Peter would “vehemently” oppose someone’s statement about him, to the point of swearing an oath.  He would do this very thing in the act of denying being a disciple of Jesus.
    1. No doubt Peter was sincere.  No doubt Peter had absolutely no intention to deny Jesus that night.  He truly believe that he would stand strong against all spiritual attacks, and that his fervent will would be more than sufficient to withstand stumbling.  But that was the problem.  Peter had a will, but despite the oft-quoted phrase, just because there is a will does not necessarily mean there is always a way.  Peter had great intentions, but there’s another phrase that describes what often happens with good intentions…  Peter needed more than his will & desire; he needed the power of God.  Peter needed to have something besides his own humanness to avoid weakness; he needed the power of the Holy Spirit to hold him up and make him strong.
    2. Human strength will always fail.  Peter is going to learn that lesson before Jesus is even arrested.
  2. BTW – skeptics have often pointed to the details of Jesus’ prophecy here to attempt to demonstrate inconsistencies or errors in the Bible.  Matthew 26:34, “before the rooster crows you will deny Me…”  Luke 22:34, “the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny…”  John 13:38, “the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me…”  So which is it?  Would the rooster not crow at all prior to Peter’s denial, or would it crow twice as Peter denies Jesus?  It would seem that out of 4 gospels, there are only three prophecies that agree.  Actually, no.  There are two different versions of the same prophecy, with Mark simply giving more details.  Matthew, Luke, and John all reference the same crowing that Mark lists as the 2nd crowing, which coincided with a certain time in the morning (a change in the night watch) – something which would have been well-known to the original readers of the gospel accounts.  The only difficulty we have is that we are 2000 years removed from the culture, so the accounts don’t sound like they match to our ears.
    1. Keep in mind that different authors will write things from different perspectives and still share exactly the same truth.  We can say “School ends when the bell rings,” or “School ends when the last bell rings,” and still have spoken accurately – even if the bell would have sounded several times throughout the day.  It’s no different here. 
    2. Give the Bible the benefit of the doubt.
  3. Before we move on, notice that it wasn’t only Peter who denied Jesus’ prophecy. “And they all said likewise.” Every single one of the remaining 11 disciples told Jesus that He was wrong about them, and that none of them would stumble that night.

32 Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”

  1. Earlier in the evening, after the Passover meal, Jesus and the 11 disciples had gone out to the Mount of Olives (vs. 26).  Apparently, it was while they were on the way that Jesus had prophesied their stumbling & scandal.  Now they had arrived at their location on the Mount, just outside the city of Jerusalem, in a garden commonly called “Gethsemane.”  The name seems to mean “oil press,” and apparently was known for the olive trees that were there (whose fruit was used to make the oil).  No doubt the idea of olives being crushed to bring forth oil can be applied to Jesus being crushed on our account – but that’s not likely the reason the garden is named here.  Neither Mark nor Matthew translate the name for the reader (it’s not Greek in origin).  So why identify it at all?  Simply because it was known.  It would be like saying, “Joe went to Times Square in NYC.”  There’s nothing significant about “Time” or “Square” – it’s just the geographical location of where the guy went.  The point?  We have a historical faith.  The events of the life of Jesus were not invented out of thin-air or arise out of myth or imagination.  They were real events that involved real people doing things in real places. The disciples did not have any need to make things up.  The biblical writers recorded things as they happened, warts and all.  Think about it: if you were going to lie about a false messiah, but wanted people to believe you, would you make the heroes of the false-faith out to be so weak and contradictory?  Mark just got done recording how 11 of the disciples argued with the Lord, and how the 12th disciple left to go turn Jesus over to the authorities.  These aren’t exactly endearing qualities!  Why share it at all, unless it was the truth?  And it is.  What the Bible contains is historic facts…we can trust it.
  2. Of course the main idea here is that Jesus took all His remaining disciples with Him to the Garden, but told them to stay in a certain place while He went to go pray.  Apparently, Jesus had taken the disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane many times in the past (Jn 18:2), which is why Judas knew exactly where to go on the Mt. of Olives to find Jesus.  It seems likely that Jesus left the majority of the disciples in the open area in order that they would be the first to see Judas and soldiers arrive.  Jesus needed time to pray, and He needed His disciples to help ensure He got as much time as possible (a task at which they would fail).
  3. It’s interesting that Jesus needed to pray at all.  After all, He’s the Son of God.  What is it that Jesus could do in prayer with God that He could not do otherwise?  This is part of the mystery of the incarnation.  Jesus is both fully human AND fully God.  As God of true God, surely the Son always has perfect unbroken fellowship with the Father.  Yet as Man, Jesus had just as much need to pray as any one of us has.  In fact, Jesus models to us what a perfect prayer life looks like.  He often went away to pray – it was so much a part of His routine that the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray (which is how we ended up with the “Lord’s Prayer.”).  In any case, with as often as Jesus prayed, He understood He needed prayer this night – this night of all nights, prayer was more necessary than ever.
    1. If Jesus needed to pray, how much more do we? 

33 And He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be troubled and deeply distressed. 34 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.”

  1. Jesus left eight disciples behind in the main part of the garden, and He took three further on with Him: “Peter, James, and John.”  These were the three that often went with Jesus on errands the others did not.  These seemed to form Jesus’ inner circle, and were able to give witness to Jesus’ most intimate moments when too many people would distract from the issue at hand.  They had been with Jesus in a tiny room as He raised a girl from the dead (Mk 5:41) – they had been with Jesus on the mount of transfiguration (Mk 9:2) – now they were with Jesus in His hour of anguish.
    1. It was a grand privilege, and they wasted it.
  2. Q: Did Jesus experience depression?  From His own description, it sure sounds as if He did, or at the least He experienced something like it.  He was “troubled and deeply distressed.”  He described Himself as almost at the point of death from the depth of His sorrow.  No matter what label we put on it (be it clinical depression or not), that’s low.  That was truly darkness, and Jesus was intimately acquainted with it the night before His crucifixion.  Luke tells us that Jesus was so physically distressed through this that He seat great drops of blood (Lk 22:44) – a medical condition known as hematidrosis.  Jesus was incredibly sad and stressed…the Bible could hardly describe it more explicitly.
  3. It’s easy to understand the reason why.  Jesus was mere hours away from the cross.  He would be subjected to horrendous physical torture and (literally) excruciating pain.  But that wasn’t the worst part.  Nothing would lessen the physical pain, but far worse was what Jesus would endure physically.  The Perfect Son of God – the One who knew no sin – the One who had never personally experienced sin of any sort, being tempted in all ways as we are yet without sin – this One would have to personally become sin on our behalf (2 Cor 5:21).  The very definition of justice and righteousness is found in God, and Jesus would have to become the exact opposite.  The blessed Son of God would have to become a curse (Gal 3:13).  The uniquely begotten Son of God beloved by the Father would have to personally take on the full wrath and anger of God as Jesus became our propitiation (Rom 3:25).  Somehow, in some way, the Son who always had fellowhip with God the Father from eternity past would even have to be forsaken by God (Mk 15:34).  There is nothing worse than Jesus would ever experience than that which He went through upon the cross.  All the horrors of eternal hell would fall upon the shoulders of Jesus in a moment, as He became the substitution sacrifice for us.
  4. And remember that He would do it alone.  Jesus said “stay and watch,” but all the disciples would abandon Him – they would not even be faithful to stand with Jesus in the close hours leading up to it.  Jesus would be utterly alone as He died for the men who abandoned Him, and yet He did it anyway.  Of course, this was no surprise to Jesus – it was written in the Scriptures, and He had prophesied of it earlier that very night.  And yet Jesus still said “stay and watch.”  Knowing that they would fail, Jesus still loved them enough to reach out to them and give them the opportunity to stand with Him.  He never gave up on them, despite their weakness and failing.
    1. How amazingly infinite is the love of Christ Jesus for us?  We are no different than the disciples, and Jesus still treats us in the same way.  We are under the same judgment for the same sins, and Jesus took it upon Himself for us.  We are equally faithless, not only in our fidelity to Christ, but in our watch with Christ, and He still reaches out to us.  He still offers to us His love and grace, and the invitation to partake of His now-finished work upon the cross.  He was still willing to go through all that He went through in order that we would be saved.
    2. Christian, when you worship, do you remember the vastness of the love of Christ that He demonstrated & continues to demonstrate on a daily basis?  It’s no stretch to describe how unworthy we are, and yet it is for that very unworthiness that Jesus suffered and died.  That’s something we can thank Him for whenever we pray, sing, or however we worship the Lord.
    3. This same love that Jesus showed the disciples is available to every single human being on the planet.  Every man, woman, and child can experience this same love of God, and can personally know this kind of grace.  Respond to Jesus today!
  5. BTW – “watch” could be translated “stay alert” or “stay awake” (HCSB).  Jesus wasn’t telling them merely to keep a lookout, but to be mindful of the moment and take advantage of the time.  It was a natural thing for them to be sleepy.  They had all had a long day by that point, but even at the late hour, there was no time for sleep.  The most pressing need was prayer.  After all, it was not only Jesus who would be entering into one of the darkest hours of temptation; it was all of them.  The disciples would ALL be stumbled and scattered.  If they had taken Jesus’ warning seriously, they would be spending serious time in prayer.
    1. There’s no doubt that prayer can be difficult work.  There are days when our minds are completely distracted – there are days when we are bone-tired – there are days when there are a million different excuses to which every single person could relate (no matter how “spiritual” they are believed to be).  The difficult days to pray may very well be the most important days to pray.  Prayer is not “down” time; it is certainly not wasted time.  Prayer is time spent at the throne of God’s grace – the very place we are invited to be by the work of Jesus (Heb 4:16).  Prayer is how the Christian receives renewal and empowerment by the Holy Spirit.  Prayer is how the Christian can experience the still, small voice of God, sometimes in instruction – other times in encouragement.  All of the things that we most urgently need during our hours of deep distress can be found in the presence of God as we pray – the very thing we find so hard to do.  When you find it hardest to pray, that’s when you most need to do it.
  6. What did Jesus’ prayer look like?  Vs. 35…

35 He went a little farther, and 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. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”

  1. First, it was fully sincere.  There was no pretense in Jesus’ prayer.  There was no outward show of holiness done for others.  There was no preaching to someone else while He pretended to talk to God.  (Some of the things Christians sometimes find ourselves doing.)  Jesus left even the three closest disciples a little ways behind, and went by Himself to pray.  So overwhelmed was Jesus that He simply “fell on the ground,” and cried out to God.
  2. Second, it was full of faith.  There was no doubt in Jesus’ mind what is & is not possible with God.  All things are possible for God.  There is no task that is outside the capability of God to perform; He is more than able to accomplish anything.  The point of asking “if it were possible” was to ask if the certain capability of God matched with the determined plan of God.  There’s no doubt that God was able to keep Jesus from experiencing His wrath; the only question was whether or not God would accomplish His perfect will in doing so.
    1. Obviously as normal men & women, we do not know the sovereign will of God in the same way as Jesus knows it.  Much is revealed to us in the pages of Scripture, but there are other things of which we simply don’t have a clue.  (Will God heal a certain person of a certain disease?  Will I be laid off from my job?  Will God do ____ in my life? Etc…)  Yet in all of this there is one thing we absolutely CAN know: these things are possible with God.  It may or may not be His perfect will, or He may have a different way of going about it, but it is possible with Him.  If we don’t begin with the faith that God CAN do it, then it’s difficult to go too much further in prayer.
  3. Third, it was fully relational.  Jesus called out to “Abba, Father.”  Jews (both then and today) would greatly hesitate to use that sort of language. “Abba” is Aramaic, and is the child’s first word for “father.” We might relate the word to “Dada” or “Daddy” today – it is a word indicating a close, intimate relationship.  Certainly not casual nor anything remotely disrespectful, but something that could only be uttered by someone on the closest terms with God.  This was the eternal Son of God speaking to His heavenly Father, and Jesus called Him “Abba.”  Other Jews did not hesitate to call themselves children of Abraham, but to know God as “Abba” was something they did not dare to do.
    1. Incredibly, this is the kind of relationship that we HAVE been invited to!  In Christ, we have been given the spirit of adoption, having been made true children of God, and now we can honestly cry out in our hearts, “Abba, Father.” (Rom 8:15, Gal 4:6)
  4. Fourth, it was fully honest.  Jesus didn’t pretend to be spiritual in front of His heavenly Father – there was no need.  He could be fully honest in His prayer, and lay His full request in front of God.  Jesus asked that the “hour might pass from Him” – that God would “take this cup away” from Him.  This was the very reason that Jesus had come into the world, and yet now that He is moments away from it all coming to pass, He asks God to change it.  He was willing to be there, but He did not want to experience the cross.  Was Jesus fearful of being disobedient?  Absolutely not!  This was His heart’s cry, and this is what He uttered in prayer.  To have said anything different would have been disobedient because THAT is what would have been dishonest.  Jesus had no fear of being chastised for His honesty in prayer (and neither should we).
  5. Lastly, it was fully submitted.  Jesus gave His request to God, but left the decision to God.  There was no doubt what was in Jesus’ heart at that moment – but in all of His humanity (Jesus is fully human and fully divine), Jesus’ heart was not necessarily the perfect will of God for all creation.  As during His time in the wilderness at the outset of His ministry, this was an hour of temptation for the Lord, and Jesus understood the importance of relying upon the infinite power and wisdom of God.  Obviously AS God, the Son could have asserted His will at any time, but Jesus willingly chose to submit Himself to His Father – just as He had always done from the foundation of the world.
  6. That was Jesus’ prayer.  How do ours look in comparison?

37 Then He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour? 38 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

  1. It does not seem all that long ago that Jesus gave Simon the name “Peter,” because he had exercised such faith.  This disciple had it revealed to him by God that Jesus is the Son of God, and that confession was the rock that the entire Church would be built upon.  Yet at this hour, he is no longer “Rock,” but simply “Simon.”  He’s gone backwards, unaware of the weakness of his own flesh and the need that is rapidly pressing in upon him.  Only an hour or so ago, Peter was actually debating with the Lord Jesus regarding whether or not he would deny Christ, and even when given the opportunity, he did nothing to prepare himself.  Instead of staying alert, awake, and praying for himself (if not for Jesus), he drifted off into sleep.  Peter would have his own trial in the ensuing hours that would shake him to the core of his being, and yet he treated the night like any other.
  2. Obviously, it’s not that Peter wanted to fail.  He surely desired to stand strong with the Lord, fully supporting Him through every trial Jesus was about to face.  Like all of us, Peter’s “spirit indeed was willing” – the problem was with his (and our) “flesh”.  This isn’t talking about his physical body, but his fleshly nature.  No doubt Peter’s physical body was tired, but he was a hardy fisherman.  He had stayed up fishing all night many times in the past; staying up all night wasn’t the issue.  Staying spiritually alert was.  Our flesh (our sinful nature) gets in the way of anything that we engage in spiritually.  It’s the reason why prayer times often seem so laborious.  It’s something we all have to deal with, and the only way to deal with it is death.  As Paul writes, we have to reckon ourselves dead indeed to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 6:11).  As Jesus taught about basic discipleship, we have to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him (Mt 16:24).  The flesh CAN be dealt with, but we have to be willing to die to it.  As for Simon Peter, he was perfectly willing to die for Jesus, but not yet so willing to die for himself.  Without the second, he would never do the first.

39 Again He went away and prayed, and spoke the same words. 40 And when He returned, He found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy; and they did not know what to answer Him.

  1. A second time Jesus went to pray, and when He returned He found the same results.  This time, they didn’t even have an answer for themselves.  Be it from general grogginess, or shame, they had been caught by the Lord unprepared & had nothing to say.
  2. Was Jesus looking to condemn them?  Obviously not.  The very reason Jesus was spending so much time in prayer at the moment was because He was about to suffer and die for them (and for us).  He wasn’t looking to condemn them at all; when Jesus went to the cross He was doing what needed to be done to bring about their salvation.  No, the point in coming back was not to put a guilt-trip on the disciples, but (1) to demonstrate that they were already beginning to abandon Jesus, exactly as the Scripture prophesied that they would, (2) to demonstrate exactly how weak the flesh is (as a lesson that they would never forget!), and (3) to continue to reach out to them and give them the opportunity to participate.

41 Then He came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough! The hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”

  1. After a third time, Jesus finds the same results and finally there are no more opportunities to be given.  He does not condemn the disciples, but rightly chastises them.  “The hour has come,” and there was now no more time to pray and prepare.  That time was limited, and now it was gone.  Judas and the soldiers were upon them, and all the disciples could do was rub the sleepiness out of their eyes and drowsily wonder what was going on.

Conclusion:
Jesus was alone in His hour of need, just like He would be alone upon the cross.  He knew it would happen that way, but that didn’t make it any easier.  He would suffer immensely for the sins of mankind, and men (even those who claimed to love Him) turned their backs upon Him.  Yet it never stopped Jesus.  It never gave Him pause.  There’s no record of Him ever lamenting how ungrateful the disciples were in that moment, or how evil Peter was for arguing with Him only to fall asleep in the garden.  There’s none of that.  There is deep sorrow, incredible stress, laborious prayer, and submission to the will of God – but there is no condemnation.  Jesus was about to suffer and die for their condemnation, and in fact the suffering had just begun.

What Jesus did for the disciples, He did for all of us…He did for you.  The Son of God – the One through whom the world was created – the One who gives life to all men – entered into deep sorrow and suffering for YOU.  It was our sin that made Jesus’ suffering necessary because the wages of sin is death.  Yet Jesus endured it…and He conquered it.  Remember that the account of the gospel does not end with Jesus’ abandonment and sorrow – it goes on to resurrection and reconciliation.  Jesus told that to the disciples from the outset, and He proved it when He rose from the grave.  Our hope is not in Jesus’ suffering, but in Jesus’ resurrection.

Yet the proof of Jesus’ love for us IS found in His suffering and death.  God demonstrates His own love towards us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 5:8).  Paul had prayed for the Ephesians that they would know the width & length & depth & height of the love of Christ Jesus for them (Eph 3:18).  Where do we see it?  Beginning in the garden of Gethsemane & ultimately in the cross.  Jesus loves you.  How much?  Enough to be abandoned for you.

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