Let us pray: Dear Savior, You have told us: “Never will I leave, never will I forsake you.” Tonight, as we ponder all the times we have left and forsaken You, teach us to take Your promise to heart, act upon it, and re-solidify our commitment to You, born out of Your undying commitment to us. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM OUR SUFFERING SAVIOR
TEXT: Mark 14: 48-52: “Am I leading a rebellion,’ said Jesus, ‘that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest m e. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.’ Then everyone deserted him and fled. A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.”
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Remember these words: “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you. Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” Or how about: “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” Words matter. Words can also come back to haunt the one who utters them. A few hours before Jesus’ capture in Gethsemane, the disciples had uttered such words in the Upper Room. And now they are running for their lives in all directions away from their Savior.
The sad fact about courage is that when we feel it the most we need it the least and when we feel it the least, we need it the most. Before Gethsemane the disciples boasted about how they would react when Christ was confronted by His enemies. Never would they leave Him behind! But now in the shadowy garden surrounded by soldiers their courage fails them. They run for the hills.
So, why exactly did their courage flee? It was because trust was abandoned. They no longer had that faith and trust in Christ. The man who once walked on water to save them and rebuked gale-force winds was left behind in the face of their supposed doom. You know, doom doesn’t threaten us too often. And yet, when it does, people run for their lives instead of standing tall. With that in mind, let us consider:
FATHER: FORGIVE OUR FEARFUL LACK OF TRUST!
The disciples never considered themselves cowards. Nor did they consider themselves bragging blowhards. They really did love Christ. They really did desire to be loyal followers. And when they boasted about never leaving Him—they really did mean it—at that time.
But, how soon that boasting changed to fear and flight! It had been a festive night as they celebrated the Passover in the Upper Room. But it gradually changed to a nightmare. They saw Jesus’ sorrow and heard disquieting words from His lips about rejection, betrayal and death. They walked to Gethsemane in darkness that seemed to grow deeper and deeper with each step. Worn out by sorrow and worry, they fell asleep while Jesus prayed and asked them to keep watch. Dumbfounded they watched as one of their number betrayed Jesus. Confused and frightened they ran and hid while their Lord was bound and hauled away.
Jesus had foreseen it all. Throughout His ministry He had rebuked them for their lack of trust and weakness of faith. When the storm on the sea threatened them and they cried out in despair, He rescued them, adding those words: “You of little faith.” When they questioned how He could ever feed the huge crowd of 5000+, He wondered over their lack of faith. Finally, He sighed: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
Just hours earlier, Jesus had quoted this prophesy: “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.” He had said: “All will fall away on account of me.” Yet, none of them believed any of this would truly happen. All protested His words. But, now it all comes true, doesn’t it?
It was their confusion that caused it all to come down on their heads. When Jesus went out to John the Baptist, John’s greeting was: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” Yet, still the disciples harbored thoughts of earthly grandeur. They still expected a political, worldly Messiah. And now this same Jesus doesn’t lift a finger to stop the guards from arresting Him. What was Jesus doing? Why wouldn’t He fight? Why didn’t He summon those 12 legions of angels to defend Him? They were scared. They lost all hope. And they ran in fear.
O how we mimic the disciples every day and every week! We create our own fantasies about how we’ll resist temptation and stand up for Christ when Satan comes calling. We’ll resist and stand tall. We’ll be like Luther and throw that inkwell at him! We’ll fight the good fight of faith! And yet, when push comes to shove, we usually do the opposite. We fold. We run away. We remain silent. And all this stems from a lack of trust. All this stems from a worldly view of our faith. That is, we fail to grasp that human pain, physical anguish, is really nothing when compared to eternal pain and anguish. We fail to see that our spiritual reality is more real and has more significance than our earthly reality. Yes, as Christ says: “My kingdom is not of this world.” And yet, we find ourselves living in this world, it scares us more than what we cannot see, and so our trust in Him crumbles and we run away just like the disciples.
That is why, my friends, we need to pray these words every single day: “Father, increase our faith!” And what do those words really mean? They mean this: every single day we must look past political turmoil, social injustice, economic hardship, family anguish, horrible sickness and even death—all of which cause us to ask ourselves: “Where is God and why doesn’t He do something to help?” We must look past all the pain of planet earth and focus on the fact that this is but the blink of an eye; whereas in true reality, eternal reality, the real fight is about saving our eternal souls. And in that fight, there is only one solution: clinging to Christ in faith because Christ heals our souls through His precious blood. We need to remember daily God’s Words that St. Paul conveys to us in Romans 9: 33: “The one who trust in him will never be put to shame.”
Our lack of trust in Christ is finally all about our questioning of His wisdom. The earthly-minded disciples questioned His wisdom that night in allowing Himself to be arrested. They questioned it outside Caiaphas’ palace when He didn’t defend Himself. They questioned it as the crowd howled before Pilate and Christ was silent. They questioned it when they saw Him suffer and die on the cross without trying to save Himself. Yes, they questioned Christ’s wisdom, and their faith fell off a cliff because none of them would have acted this way! Human self-preservation is our chief instinct. But, God’s wisdom is the opposite in Christ! For in love He allowed Himself to be taken and killed out of love for lost humans! He knew what they did not, that is, eternal salvation is more important in life than anything else—including Christ’s life.
Of course, the empty tomb finally broke through the disciples’ lack of trust. When He arose, they realized that God’s thoughts and ways were light years beyond their own thoughts and ways. They realized that He had forgiven their lack of trust while on that bloody cross and confirmed it by rising to everlasting life! So, our prayer this night is: “Lord, forgive my lack of trust and give me confidence to know and believe that “truly You are, the Son of the Living God!” Amen