08 Nov Mark 35: Tempted for us
32 And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 And he took with him Peter and James and John and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. 34 And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.”[d] 35 And going a little farther, he 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. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” 37 And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? 38 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. 40 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. 41 And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.
43 And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. 44 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” 45 And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 46 And they laid hands on him and seized him. 47 But one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant[e] of the high priest and cut off his ear. 48 And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.” 50 And they all left him and fled.
51 And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, 52 but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.
20 years ago, we only had 2 types of moments: bad moments and good moments. A bad moment is when we got rejected by girls or got punished by our parents. At that time, there was a very clear line between those two; bad and good moments but now we have another layer. We have bad moments then good moments and with an additional layer which is an Instagram able moment. Not all good moments can be considered good enough for Instagram. Only the one that has a “wow” moment can be posted on Instagram. These wow moments are what we see every day when we browse Instagram. We feed our minds with these things and what happens is those kinds of life become our expectations. We would think that “most of my friends experience those good lives so I should experience the same thing. When we face big issues, it hits us hard. Then, we see other church friends on their Instagram, it seems they always have a good life. We asked God “why”. We questioned God or some people chose to run away from God.
We as Christians normally go to these 2 extremes when we face problems; the first one is “I am good all the time because the Bible says we need to rejoice in suffering”. We came to church always smiling but inside crying. We show fake joy on the outside, but the inside is struggling. These types of people just want to share all the good stuff in MC. Basically, this first group is always in denial. Yes, it is true that we have to rejoice in our suffering but at the same time, God is very clear in the Bible that He gives us room to grieve. However, if we are not careful with grief, we will end up in the second extreme which is that we are stuck in the bubble of grief. We don’t go anywhere and don’t want to do anything. We feel self-pity. We feel useless. Then the temptation comes and whispers in our ear – “where is your God? you are not loved. Run away from your God”. And we avoid church. We avoid MC.
That’s what we will learn together from this passage; about facing the temptation. We will learn from Jesus Himself. He faced one of His biggest temptations of His life. What? Are you saying Our Jesus is being tempted? Yes, He is. We are going to learn Jesus’ response to one of the biggest problems in His life. I will divide my sermon into 3 parts.
- THE AGONY
When I was a kid, I had a friend and his parents; both of his parents are doctors. Then one day my friend did not come to school. I was assuming he could be on holiday. After he came back, I asked him – “where was he going?”. He replied that he was really sick and not going on holiday. I was so surprised and asked him “how come? Your parents are doctors”. At that time, I was thinking that my friend could not be sick because his parents are doctors. My friend was a bit confused with my question and he answered “even though I am the doctor’s son, I am also human like you. I can be sick as well.”
Same thing when we look to Jesus. Sometimes, we only see Him as the Son of God. We only see Him as one of the Trinity. But we have to know Jesus is not only fully God, but He is also fully man. This teaching of the Humanity of Christ is very important as Christian. Otherwise, we may think that Jesus doesn’t know exactly our feelings. If Jesus is not man, the Cross becomes meaningless because He couldn’t represent the human.
Throughout the Bible, we can see some brief examples of the humanity of Jesus such as Jesus growing tired, He is hungry and thirsty. He showed some emotions. But nowhere else in the Bible, we can see the humanity of Jesus other than in this passage. Let’s have a look. Verse 33-34 33 And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. 34 And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” 35 And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.
Here, Jesus faced one of His biggest problems. He feels the weight of His rescue mission. He said to His disciples my soul is very sorrowful even to death. In other words, Jesus said to them “this situation is killing me”. He was so distressed to the point that he fell on the ground to pray. We read in other chapters Jesus prays by kneeling or standing up or looking up to heaven but here Jesus fell on the ground to pray. It shows how much sorrow He experienced. Same as us, He feels all those feelings; disturbed, troubled, or worried.
What was the cause of His sorrow? If you remember in previous chapters Jesus already predicted His death. He knows. He predicted three times in a very calm manner. Yet here He is not calm. He was greatly distressed. Why?
Jesus is fully man. He can feel like us, but He is also fully God. It means that He knows exactly what is going to happen in the next 24 hours. He will be beaten badly. He will be mocked. People spit on Him. He will be whipped on His back really bad. He was forced to carry a very heavy cross. He will be nailed to the cross and lifted high so that people can see Him. He saw all that physical suffering. He saw all of this physical suffering getting closer. But those physical sufferings are nothing compared to what is going to come after physical suffering. Those physical pains are bad but it’s nothing compared to the spiritual pain that he would go through at the cross. God the Father will pour out His wrath and judgment on Him. He is in agony because He who is sinless and Holy will be in contact with sin. He is about to be exposed to one thing that He is really afraid of. It is sin. And He knows what it means. It means that at that moment God’s wrath will be poured on Him, He will be separated from His Father. It causes Jesus to say “My God My God why have you forsaken Me? This thought and anticipation makes Him feel so distressed and troubled to His soul more than we could imagine.
Tim Keller said “In the Gethsemane, Jesus began to experience the spiritual, cosmic, infinite disintegration that would happen when he became separated from his Father on the cross. Jesus began to experience merely a foretaste of that, and he staggered.” Another commentary said that nothing can compare to what Jesus went through here even if it is worse than what Abraham went through when he was sacrificing his son Isaac. Wow. To that extent, He suffers in Gethsemane.
It is important for us to know the agony Jesus experienced as so often we say that “God you don’t know what I am going through.” Really? The humanity of Jesus is good news for us. Jesus knows your feelings. Jesus knows your worry, your cry. He knows. Sometimes we say “I am going through the worst situation. God, you don’t understand” really? What we are going through is nothing compared to what Jesus went through. He feels distressed thinking about what will happen in the next 24 hours and not only that He was also being tempted to run away from the Cross. This is Jesus’ greatest temptation; to turn back from the Cross. It leads me to the second point.
- THE TEMPTATION
I hope every Christian in this place realizes that we as Christians are not immune to temptation. We as Christian are being tempted every day. There is some misunderstanding about temptation. We think temptation is a sin. Many Christian think that being tempted is a sin. It is NOT a sin to be tempted. When we give in to temptation, that is a sin. Jesus was tempted as well. Jesus faced the biggest temptation of His life but He did not give in to it.
Many of us give in to temptation too easily without any fight. Why? We may not fight the temptation correctly. We will learn how Jesus fights against His biggest temptation. He prayed. Let’s quickly see Jesus’ prayer in the midst of His agony. This is His pray in verse 36; 36 And he said,“Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Jesus started with calling His Father; Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. One important thing when we pray is we must know to whom we pray. Jesus can call Him Abba Father because He has a personal relationship with God the Father. We do not pray to universal god whom other religions also pray to. He is our Father. It is very personal. We pray to our Heavenly Father.
He loves His children. Ironically, today we underestimate this privilege to be God’s children because we assume our God is Father for all people. But the Bible is very clear that only those people who received Him, receive the privilege to become children of God. We can be God’s children not because we are good. Our sonship is not automatic but because we are in union in Christ. We are adopted. Because we are in Christ and Christ in us, we become children of God and we can confidently come to our Abba Father in our prayer. He is the perfect Father who makes no mistakes and anything possible for Him.
Jesus then continued His prayer – Remove this cup from me. I just love how Jesus shared His true feelings. He didn’t hide His true feelings and coated them with beautiful words. He is honest to His Father; “remove this cup for me”. Church, you know your prayer doesn’t need to be always fancy words or positive feeling all the time. Our Father wants us to share our true feelings.
What is the cup? We learned before that Jesus knew that He would be separated from His Father when He was becoming sin. This cup is the cup of wrath of God. Is it possible for Jesus to run away from the cup? I think so. But Jesus knew that it was not possible to avoid the cup and still accomplished the redemption. Jesus knows to save us from eternal condemnation, He has to take the cup for us. Hope we understand from the previous point how much He suffered for us.
Jesus knew that there was no other way to save us. Jesus asked God for a different way but He knows that the second option wasn’t God’s will. He surrendered His will into God’s will. And He ended His prayer – Yet not what I will, but what you will.”.
In the book of Luke, after Jesus surrendered His will, it says “And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.” Luke 22:43. As Jesus obeys and surrenders His will to His Father, the Father strengthened Him. Same as today, God may not take away the cup or the suffering from your life, but He will provide whatever you need to go through that suffering. He will give us the strength that we need. God may let you go through the suffering so that you can experience His presence in your life and experience His comfort in the midst of hardship.
I love how Jesus teaches us to pray while suffering. Otherwise, we will grieve with no meaning, or we will be in denial all the time. As we pray, we use our suffering as a foundation to connect with Him, to trust Him, and to worship Him. I love how RC Sproul put it. “Does prayer change God’s mind? No. Does prayer change things? Yes, of course. What prayer most often changes is the wickedness and the hardness of our own hearts.”
On the other hand, His disciples did the opposite to Jesus. Let’s read verse 37-40; “And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him.” Mark 14:37-40 ESV
While Jesus try to fight the temptation by coming to God in prayer, His disciples were sleeping. Jesus gave them the warning, Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. Jesus is so kind to them by warning them about what is about to come which is the temptation. Jesus warned them that “you are going to see terrible things happened to me, I would be mocked and crucified. You guys will be tempted. The devil would whisper in your ears to run away from your Saviour”. As we know in the next verses, Jesus found them again sleeping. When Jesus went to pray, He only brought three disciples: Peter, John and James. These people have seen Jesus’ miracles. They saw Jairus’ daughter raised from the dead. These people even claimed that “we would be with you to the end, Jesus” but they cannot even open their eyes for one hour for Jesus.
Jesus warned them to watch and pray so that they didn’t fall into temptation. They didn’t do it and at the end of the pericope, we found that they all left Jesus. In this Gethsemane, all of them faced temptation. Jesus and the disciples faced a big temptation. The disciples were tempted to run and flee from Jesus. Jesus also faced the similar temptation. He was tempted to just run away from the Cross. This is the last chance for Jesus to run but He stays put. Do you get this, church? Jesus was tempted for us with temptation that we cannot even imagine but He did not give in to that temptation. Do you know what it means if Jesus gives in to the temptation? We all will go to hell. Instead, He did all the wrestling and struggling. When the disciple cannot stay awake for one hour for Jesus, Jesus uses every single minute to prepare Himself that He did not give in to temptation to run away from Cross. He did that for us. This sacrifice for us should give us hope facing our temptation. This should give us courage to fight temptation and win.
I love how Jesus connects prayer with temptation. We normally only relate prayer with a request. We pray when we need something. Here Jesus faced one of the biggest temptations. Do I submit to the will of my Heavenly Father, or do I do my own thing? Or do I take the easy way out?
He teaches us to pray in the midst of our temptation. Church, God wants us to come to Him. Our prayer might be just simple as “Heavenly Father I am so tempted to click this website which I should not, help me” or “Father my heart is so envious right now, please help me”. Come to Him as you are being tempted. He will strengthen us.
We also learned before that Jesus wants us to be honest as well in our prayers. Our God knows our hearts so that we don’t need to hide anything. We can come to Him in our grief. We can just come to Him and pray “Heavenly Father, you are good God. Even at this moment, I feel you are not but I want to trust you”. You can share your true feelings. Jesus gave everything so that we can have a personal relationship with Him and can call Him “Abba Father”
- THE REJECTION
One of the worst things when we face problem is we feel alone like no one understand our felling or what we are going through. We feel lonely. Therefore, when we shared our struggle, it is easier to share to people who also going through same thing. They can understand our feeling. That’s why support group for pregnant woman or first-time parents or drug addict are very helpful. But again, nothing worse than going through problem or suffering alone.
As we are at the end of this pericope, I hope you all can feel how lonely Jesus is going through this situation. People were leaving Him. But before that, let me set the scene for the situation at that time. The pericope did not really show the situation in an obvious way. But it shows implicitly in the last 2 verses of this pericope, let me read it for you again; 51 And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, 52 but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked. Yes, these 2 verses about a young man ran away naked. Funny story: when I submitted my first manuscript to our beloved pastor, I did not include this verse in my manuscript. Why? Because I don’t know what to say so that I intentionally skip this verse and hoping Ps Yosia did not say anything. He responded in the feedback – “Don’t forget the verse about the man running naked. It’s part of your text. You cannot pretend it is not there”. I don’t want to speculate who the young man is. Some commentaries say that the young man is Mark himself. I think it is not clear. Let’s do not focus on his identity. But let’s sense the situation at that time. This man was so scared that he would rather run away naked than be arrested with Jesus. That is how scary the situation was at that time. He prefers to lose his identity and run naked than be arrested with Jesus. That might also happen to all disciples. They are so terrified with the situation at that time, and they were tempted to run away from Jesus, and they give in to the temptation.
This is not surprised for Jesus. Jesus knew that people would betray Him; not only Judas. Few verses before this pericope, Jesus predicts his betrayal 27 And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 29Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” 30And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same.
Jesus has predicted this betrayal. Peter was so confident with himself that I will not betray you and the rest of the disciples also said the same thing – “I will not deny you, Jesus. Let’s have a look. But
41 And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? it is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
43 And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. 44 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” 45 And when he came, he went up to him at once and said,“Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 46 And they laid hands on him and seized him. 47 But one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. 48 And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.” 50 And they all left him and fled
Jesus asked the disciples to stay awake and keep watch with Jesus. In verse 41 – we can see that for the third time, Jesus found them sleeping. In the Gethsemane, Jesus had to endure one of the worst agony and pain. He can feel all physical and especially spiritual suffering that He must go through in the next 24 hours. He can see the wrath from His Father. He can see the sin that would be in touch with His pure soul. Jesus went through it alone. He prayed alone in the garden. Jesus suffers alone at the Cross for His People so that His people do not need to be alone in their suffering.
It is really mind blowing when we think about it. Jesus is willingly going to the Cross for His Disciples. Instead of staying awake with Jesus, they leave Him alone and go through this by Himself. Not only for disciples, but He also willingly died on the Cross for you and me who were sinners, do not love Him in the first place and often ignore Him. He did that so we can be reconciled with God the Father. He did that so that in the midst of our suffering, we can come to Him and call Him Abba Father.
What happened to the Disciples can also happen to all of us. They ran away from Jesus. It is easy for us to say that “I will not be tempted like the disciples. Other people like A who are not committed to Jesus may run away but not me. I will be faithful to Jesus.” If you think that you can be faithful and be confident because of your strength and your goodness, let me tell you that you do not learn from the Disciples. In previous pericope, we learned that none of the Disciples considered themselves as betrayal. All of them say that “I will be with you, Jesus”. But in this passage, when they face the pressure, they all give in to temptation and run away.
Church, we are now also living in an era where we face those temptations every day; the temptation to run away from Jesus. For example, we put money above God and what we do is make money as much as you can and forget about God. Or pursuing power or being famous or pursuing our comfort. Then we forgot about Jesus. As we are being tempted, remember that it is not our strength or our goodness that can sustain us. We are the same as those Disciples. We are prone to give in to those temptations. Remember that we are never, ever alone. Look to Jesus. Jesus went through those agony and suffering alone so that we never be alone. This truth should amaze us. It should fill our hearts with praise. We can sing out – “Amazing love! How can it be, that you my King should die for me? (Title: Amazing Love – you are my King)” He is our Savior. He is our Lord. The question is “Is Jesus your Lord and Savior?