What Are You Looking For?
He stood his ground. One of the joys of re-reading God’s word is walking through all the parts and details that you missed. Slowly, bit by bit, I’m reading through the Old Testament. And at the end of David’s life there is a list of King David’s “mighty men.” In those words we meet Eleazar, son of Dodo. And he’s in that list of mighty men because when there was a battle with the Philistines all the rest of the Israelites ran away. But he stood his ground. And he attacked so many Philistines that his hand seized up and was stuck to his sword handle. At the end of that paragraph, we hear how the Israelites came back, but only to plunder the dead…because there were no more Philistines left to fight.1 On that day Eleazar stayed. And that’s why he was their hero. This evening it’s not Eleazar who stays. Instead, it’s Jesus. And because he stays, he is our Savior. In Mark 14, we read: “32 Then they came to a place named Gethsemane, and he told his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 He said to them, “I am deeply grieved to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake.” 35 He went a little farther, fell to 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.”” (Mark 14:32–36 CSB17)
In these words we see what those forty days in the wilderness led to. All those forty days of temptation led to this one hour of temptation. And in these words we see why Jesus is our Savior and not a human hero. Satan is bringing all his pressure against Jesus. And he asks that the hour would go away.2 In minutes from that point in time he would be betrayed. But the calm before the storm can be the worst part. When you run in a race or play in a game, it’s not the game that’s the hard part. It’s the waiting before hand. It’s not the surgery that’s can be the hard part, instead, it’s the waiting. That’s when all the bad and fearful thoughts rise up. And here we see the same and so much more with Jesus. And so he asks that the hour would be taken away. But notice what follows right after this: He says those amazing words, “but not what I want, instead, what you want.” This is why Jesus is our Savior. He stays up to fulfill his Father’s will. But these words quickly shift and change focus to Jesus’ disciples: “37 Then he came and found them sleeping. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Couldn’t you stay awake one hour? 38 Stay awake and pray so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 Once again he went away and prayed, saying the same thing. 40 And again he came and found them sleeping, because they could not keep their eyes open. They did not know what to say to him. 41 Then he came a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting?” (Mark 14:37–41 CSB17)
Are you sleeping? That’s the question that Jesus asks them. Jesus is weighed down with sadness to the point of death. And their eyes are weighed down with weariness, so they sleep. And in these disciples we see our own sin too. Jesus could ask the same question of each of us too: “are you sleeping?” Our sinful nature is powerful. And it gets to us and at us when we are weakest. There is this unique set of temptations that come to us when we don’t get enough sleep. When we are sleepy—that’s when our patience runs out when others are speaking to us. When we are sleepy—that’s when we are tempted to pass off “C” work as if it were “A” work. When we are sleepy—that’s when we might have seen Satan’s temptations coming and take our stand. But our sinful natures get us at our weakest. That’s why we look at this bitter hour with such joy in our hearts. Satan poured out all the pain and sadness he could at the very moment when Jesus was most tired. He had eaten a passover feast. He had drunk wine. And he had stayed up so very far past his bed time. And that weighed his eyes down. But that was nothing compared to the pressure Satan was pouring out on him. And for all the times we sleep, Jesus proves that he is our Savior by staying up. He stays up to fulfill his Father’s will. And, as if that’s not enough of a reason to worship and praise Jesus, Mark gives us even more reasons to praise and worship him. We read: “41 Enough! The time has come. See, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Get up; let’s go. See, my betrayer is near.” 43 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, suddenly arrived. With him was a mob, with swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. 44 His betrayer had given them a signal. “The one I kiss,” he said, “he’s the one; arrest him and take him away under guard.” 45 So when he came, immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46 They took hold of him and arrested him. 47 One of those who stood by drew his sword, struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his ear. 48 Jesus said to them, “Have you come out with swords and clubs, as if I were a criminal, to capture me? 49 Every day I was among you, teaching in the temple, and you didn’t arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” 50 Then they all deserted him and ran away. 51 Now a certain young man, wearing nothing but a linen cloth, was following him. They caught hold of him, 52 but he left the linen cloth behind and ran away naked.” (Mark 14:41–52 CSB17)
Jesus stays to fulfill his Father’s will. But notice here the other reason why Jesus stays. Jesus stays to fulfill his Father’s word. Jesus says, “the scriptures must be fulfilled.” So long ago Our Father in Heaven promised that there would be a betrayer. And this betrayer would be the one who would hand Jesus over to be tortured and murdered. The Father’s prophecy and plan was to save us by surrendering his Son. And how amazing this is that Jesus doesn’t only allow this, but he helps them betray him.
And these words are so poignant and important for us to hear this evening. For Jesus stays up. But there are times that we stay up. There are times when we have slept either physically or spiritually. And that failing keeps up at night unable to sleep. The times that through our own sleepiness our sinful nature got to us. We were not patient when we should have been. We were indulgent when we should not have been. Through our sleepiness our sinful nature gets to us and later on, when our consciences catch up to us we loose sleep.
With these words we read here, Jesus comes to us and says, “Rest and be at peace. I stayed up to fulfill my Father’s will for you. I stayed up to fulfill Our Father’s word for you. Rest and be at peace for those sins are forgiven.”” And if that isn’t enough, look at what he also does. He gives us a new nature to wage war alongside the old sinful nature. Jesus says, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And we need to focus in on how willingly weak our sinful nature is. For he is always ready to wait for those times we are weak and tempt us. But, my dear friends in Christ, don’t forget about the first part of that statement. The spirit is willing. This new person placed in us through water and word in baptism is ready, willing and able to see these traps and temptations and stand up against them. And so, just as Jesus stays up, so also, you too stay up. Be awake. Be aware. Pray to your Father who hears every prayer and is there for you. For Jesus stayed up to fulfill his Father’s will. And Jesus stayed up to fulfill his Father’s word. Amen.
1 2 Samuel 23:10
2 “ⲓ̈ⲛⲁⲡⲁⲣⲉⲗⲑⲏⲁⲡⲁⲩⲧⲟⲩⲏⲱⲣⲁ” (Mark 14:35 GNT-WAS)