Hello and welcome to another week of Foundations Podcasts. My name is Dave and I’ll be taking us almost to the end of Mark’s Gospel this week. Today we’re looking at Mark 14:27-42.
Before we get in to the drama filled passage that Mark has for us today, let me tell you about a book.
Well actually, it’s a series of books, and don’t worry, there won’t be any spoilers! A few years ago an author called C J Sansom was recommended to me. In particular, his series of novels following a fictional character called Matthew Shardlake. Shardlake is a lawyer in the 16th Century and he tends to get tangled up in some sort of devious plot in each novel. We see him meet several key political and religious characters of the time. Part of Shardlake’s back story is that he used to be a passionate reformer, a radical, sold out card carrying Christian, but has since essentially lost his faith. Throughout the series we see Shardlake wrestling with the idea of faith as he encounters other characters doing things both good and bad in the name of religion and God.
Kate and I very much enjoy the mystery and intrigue of the Shardlake books but each time we read one we can’t help but ask, and in fact have the conversation, how does that happen to someone? How do you go from being a passionate Christian to turning your back on God? We’ve had friends over the years who have walked away from God. I’m sure we could all name people that we long to see back in the Church family. The question for us today, is how do we ensure that this doesn’t happen to us? Well to start with, it’s clear that in this passage at least, Peter’s response is no example to follow. Verses 29-31 say this:
Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”
But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.
Peter decides not to heed the warning of Jesus. First mistake – he thinks he knows better than God. Later in the passage, instead of doing what Jesus asks him to do, he falls asleep. Second mistake. We’re not going to dwell on Peter getting stuff wrong, that would be unfair to him, let’s look to how Jesus deals with this undeniably hard time in His life instead. After all, He is the one that is about to get arrested and crucified. In verse 34 He says “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death, stay here and keep watch.” Following God can be hard. Jesus shows that. This isn’t the easy path. His answer, our answer when life gets tough, could be to walk away. To water down the Gospel message to just be a nice, comforting message. We can choose to skip small group, we can maybe rock up to Church less. Perhaps we only go when our friends are going or when we get to see the grandchildren. Perhaps we even base it on who’s bringing the Bible message, we don’t come if we know the talk is on a challenging topic.
We all know people who’ve taken those options and I’m sure in some ways we’ve all taken the easy route ourselves sometimes as well. Whether in a moment of crisis or a slow fade. The only response to this is the one Jesus gives in the next verse, where He totally submits Himself to God’s will. Total submission. All in. This is a big ask, but it’s the only way to live the God life as our Father intended. All in. The second part of Jesus’ response is to ask His friends to keep watch for Him. This is key for us too. We can’t live this Christian life alone, we need our Church family around us to pray for us, encourage us, inspire us and to hold us accountable when we need it.
So how do we ensure we stay walking through life with Jesus? It’s not about ignoring any doubts. Jesus wrestled with His doubts. It’s not bad or wrong to have ups and downs in life and in our journey of faith. Life can be really tough. But when we submit entirely to Him and have friends around us to keep watch for us, God will give us all we need to keep taking step after step.
Father, we pray simply at the start of this week that you would help us to submit our whole lives to you. To choose you first in every situation we may face. Bless us with Church family to keep watch for us as we do for them. Thank you Lord, Amen.
READING: Mark 14:27-42
‘You will all fall away,’ Jesus told them, ‘for it is written: ‘“I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.”
But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.’
Peter declared, ‘Even if all fall away, I will not.’
‘Truly I tell you,’ Jesus answered, ‘today – yes, tonight – before the cock crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.’
But Peter insisted emphatically, ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.’ And all the others said the same.
They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,’ he said to them. ‘Stay here and keep watch.’
Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’
Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Simon,’ he said to Peter, ‘are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’
Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.
Returning the third time, he said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!’