A Secret Truth in Jesus’ Famous Prayer: Mark 14:32-42

Focus Passage: Mark 14:32-42 (GNT)

32 They came to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James, and John with him. Distress and anguish came over him, 34 and he said to them, “The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me. Stay here and keep watch.”

35 He went a little farther on, threw himself on the ground, and prayed that, if possible, he might not have to go through that time of suffering. 36 “Father,” he prayed, “my Father! All things are possible for you. Take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet not what I want, but what you want.”

37 Then he returned and found the three disciples asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Weren’t you able to stay awake for even one hour?” 38 And he said to them, “Keep watch, and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

39 He went away once more and prayed, saying the same words. 40 Then he came back to the disciples and found them asleep; they could not keep their eyes open. And they did not know what to say to him.

41 When he came back the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come! Look, the Son of Man is now being handed over to the power of sinners. 42 Get up, let us go. Look, here is the man who is betraying me!”

Read Mark 14:32-42 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

On the night of Jesus’ arrest, while Jesus was in the garden, what happens before Judas arrived is amazing in my mind. Looking at the timing of this event, it seems as though only Jesus really knew what was coming. The remaining eleven disciples don’t appear to act in a way that made this night significant like Jesus did.

If it were not for the upcoming arrest, we might not even have this night recorded. John’s gospel even hints at this being a regular place for Jesus and the disciples to go when they were in the area. (John 18:1-2)

But this night was different, and Jesus knew it. This night marked the next step towards the ultimate goal of the cross. But during the night before His death, Jesus faced what may have been His greatest challenge: Should Jesus choose to go through with the cross?

Jesus could take the group of disciples anywhere else, and Judas would not have been able to find them. The remaining disciples may not have even realized they had narrowly escaped death. But running away was not part of Jesus’ character.

That night Jesus prayed, “My Father! All things are possible for you. Take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet not what I want, but what you want.” (v. 36)

In this prayer, I see two clear things stated. First, Jesus shares His preference. Secondly Jesus shares His true desire. I wonder if this could be a model for us as well.

It is in this garden prayer where we can see a glimpse into how to pray – and how God answers prayer. While the Lord’s Prayer that Jesus taught the disciples earlier in His ministry gets lots of fame, it is in this garden prayer that we can really see the essence of prayer. What if we prayed our preferences to God, then submitted ourselves to His will and His timing. If we really think about our perspective when compared to God’s, He can see things a lot clearer than we can.

When Jesus prayed (and when we pray), God already knows what we need and what we want. God already knew Jesus was in anguish and that He was suffering. God knew that Jesus would make this request. But God also knew what was in Jesus’ heart – because it was in His heart as well. The whole Godhead designed this event to be an example of the love they had for you, me, and the rest of humanity. It is in this short, four sentence prayer where Jesus re-volunteers for the role of Savior-Messiah for humanity.

God does not appear to answer Jesus’ request to take the cup of suffering away. God does not appear to always answer our prayers favorably as well. However, when looking at this prayer from an eternity perspective, everything was on the line. God didn’t answer Jesus’ request because of His love for you and I. He wants us with Him for eternity. God answers prayers with an eternity perspective, and sometimes that even means saying “No” to His own Son!

Jesus deferred to God’s will and perspective in that moment, and because of that, we now have the opportunity to accept salvation as a gift. When we pray, perhaps we should be more intentional about submitting our will into God’s will – because He knows the path that will lead us, and as many people as possible, into eternal life with Him.

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Proclaiming Jesus: Matthew 16:13-28


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As we continue our journey through Matthew’s gospel, we come to a passage that is often split into two sections, but one that is very fascinating when we look at it as a whole. In the first part of this passage, Peter, the most outspoken disciple, is praised, while in the second part of this passage, Jesus calls Peter out as Satan.

Let’s read about what happened and draw out some things we can learn from what is shared. Like all of our passages for this “Year in Matthew”, our passage for this episode comes from Matthew’s gospel, chapter 16, and we will read it from the Good News Translation. Starting in verse 13, Matthew tells us that:

13 Jesus went to the territory near the town of Caesarea Philippi, where he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

14 “Some say John the Baptist,” they answered. “Others say Elijah, while others say Jeremiah or some other prophet.”

15 “What about you?” he asked them. “Who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17 “Good for you, Simon son of John!” answered Jesus. “For this truth did not come to you from any human being, but it was given to you directly by my Father in heaven. 18 And so I tell you, Peter: you are a rock, and on this rock foundation I will build my church, and not even death will ever be able to overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven; what you prohibit on earth will be prohibited in heaven, and what you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

20 Then Jesus ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Pausing briefly, this is where most people stop reading. However, if we continue on, we discover something almost humoring.

Continuing in verse 21, Matthew tells us:

21 From that time on Jesus began to say plainly to his disciples, “I must go to Jerusalem and suffer much from the elders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law. I will be put to death, but three days later I will be raised to life.”

22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “God forbid it, Lord!” he said. “That must never happen to you!”

23 Jesus turned around and said to Peter, “Get away from me, Satan! You are an obstacle in my way, because these thoughts of yours don’t come from God, but from human nature.”

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you want to come with me, you must forget yourself, carry your cross, and follow me. 25 For if you want to save your own life, you will lose it; but if you lose your life for my sake, you will find it. 26 Will you gain anything if you win the whole world but lose your life? Of course not! There is nothing you can give to regain your life. 27 For the Son of Man is about to come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he will reward each one according to his deeds. 28 I assure you that there are some here who will not die until they have seen the Son of Man come as King.”

In this passage, we find a ton of things we could focus in on, but to keep things simple, let’s focus on just two big ideas, with one or both of these ideas being things you may not have thought of before.

The first of these ideas is Jesus’ compliment to Peter. While a casual reading of Jesus’ statement might make it seem like Jesus elevates Peter’s status to being a rock that God’s church is built on, there is an interesting twist of words that expands Jesus’ compliment to include Peter, while also being much bigger.

Verse 18 includes Jesus statement: “And so I tell you, Peter: you are a rock, and on this rock foundation I will build my church, and not even death will ever be able to overcome it.” In this statement, Peter is compared with a rock, and then a rock foundation is where Jesus builds His church. While I’ve heard the original Greek language contrasts the idea of Peter being a pebble with the rock foundation being a boulder or a mountain-side, I like the way this translation compares these ideas.

In Jesus’ compliment, He recognizes Peter’s contribution, which is simply proclaiming a truth that Peter could only have learned from God the Father, and this truth makes the rock foundation that God’s church is built on. According to this translation, Peter’s rock contribution, combined with many other small rock contributions make up the huge rock foundation that God’s church is built on. This rock foundation is the truth that Peter proclaimed. Peter responded to Jesus’ question by proclaiming that: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.

It is this truth that God’s church is built on, and when Peter makes this proclamation, He is reinforcing God’s church and God’s truth. When we make this proclamation, we are reinforcing God’s truth and God’s church!

The second big idea in this passage is Jesus’ big insult towards Peter. Just a few verses later, Jesus pulls the disciples aside and tries to warn them about what was waiting for them when they reached Jerusalem. Jesus tells them that He would suffer at the hands of the religious leaders, be put to death, and then be raised to life three days later. When I read this event, I wonder if Peter completely missed the last words in Jesus’ statement and that He stopped hearing Jesus’ words at the details about Jesus’ upcoming death.

Is Peter’s thinking really that crazy? Most people seem to blindly side with Jesus in judging Peter, but if you were walking around with Someone you firmly believed to be God, and you believed God to be immortal, which is another way of saying that they cannot die, if this Person told you they were going somewhere to die, would that sound crazy to you?

On top of this, the dominant understanding of prophecy was that the Messiah who God would send would last forever, and lasting forever doesn’t really happen when one has died.

I am pretty certain that Peter, and most of the rest of the disciples, either didn’t hear Jesus’ promise that at the end of the three days, He would be raised back to life, or they simply didn’t know what to think of it and perhaps forgot about it until after crucifixion weekend. This is because we don’t find any of the disciples eagerly looking forward to Jesus’ resurrection on the Sunday following His death. Instead, the disciples are hiding and likely trying to strategically plan their exit from the city.

However, Jesus understands prophecy, and He understood that death and resurrection were in His future. The big thing I can learn from Peter’s challenge is that regardless of whether I understand prophecy or how the Bible describes future events, my understanding is only as good as my willingness to be open to what God is continually revealing. If I close my mind to what God wants to teach me, then I will ultimately be like the disciples who missed out on the best warning they had regarding the events of crucifixion weekend. The disciples had every opportunity to know what would happen, but they were caught believing the traditional belief of the Messiah, and a belief that the Messiah could not experience death.

I don’t think Peter’s thought was crazy, but the motivation behind it was opposite of God’s plan, and this opposition was what Jesus challenged Peter on. It is crazy to think that God would die for humanity, but this truth is one of the biggest reasons Jesus came!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

As I always challenge you to do, intentionally and purposefully seek God first and place your hope, your faith, your trust, and your belief in Jesus and what He accomplished for you. Choose to be open to what God wants to teach you and openly proclaim the truth that Jesus is God’s Messiah and that He is God’s Son!

Also, intentionally pray and study the Bible for yourself to learn and grow closer to God each and every day. Through a personal relationship with God, we can learn and know what God wants to teach us and when we are open to God’s teaching, we will avoid the traps that even the disciples fell in when they refused to accept Jesus’ words for the common understanding of prophecy at that point in history.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or stray from where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year in Matthew – Episode 30: In a short passage, discover how Jesus compliments Peter with one of the highest compliments imaginable, before calling him Satan a few verses later. Discover what made Peter worthy of both the complement and the rebuke and why Peter’s thinking might not have been that crazy even if it wasn’t correct.

Join the discussion. Share your thoughts on this passage.

Loving a Betrayer: Mark 14:17-21

Focus Passage: Mark 14:17-21 (NCV)

17 In the evening, Jesus went to that house with the twelve. 18 While they were all eating, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will turn against me—one of you eating with me now.”

19 The followers were very sad to hear this. Each one began to say to Jesus, “I am not the one, am I?”

20 Jesus answered, “It is one of the twelve—the one who dips his bread into the bowl with me. 21 The Son of Man will die, just as the Scriptures say. But how terrible it will be for the person who hands the Son of Man over to be killed. It would be better for him if he had never been born.”

Read Mark 14:17-21 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

During the last supper Jesus had with His disciples before the crucifixion, Jesus shares a statement that many of us would consider very insensitive and mean. Jesus didn’t have to share anything about the upcoming betrayal, but He chooses to do so, and while trying to keep the other 11 disciples from being surprised at what would happen that night, Jesus actually causes more confusion.

Mark tells us in his gospel that, “While they were all eating, Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth, one of you will turn against me—one of you eating with me now.’” (v. 18)

This surprises the disciples, and they all have doubts that it could be them. Mark describes their reaction by saying, “The followers were very sad to hear this. Each one began to say to Jesus, ‘I am not the one, am I?’” (v. 19)

It is only after this string of identical questions that Jesus responds, and in His response, we find something incredibly insensitive. Mark tells us that Jesus answered by saying, “It is one of the twelve—the one who dips his bread into the bowl with me. The Son of Man will die, just as the Scriptures say. But how terrible it will be for the person who hands the Son of Man over to be killed. It would be better for him if he had never been born.” (v. 20-21)

In a subtle but direct statement, Jesus says that it would have been better had Judas Iscariot never been born. That is a pretty mean thing to say. Even though it was predicted that one of Jesus’ followers would betray Him, had Judas Iscariot not been born, or if He had not been chosen as one of the twelve, one of the other disciples would have stepped in to fill that role.

Not only that, but Jesus had been talking about His upcoming death and resurrection for weeks – maybe even months – up to this point, and this truth hadn’t sunk in to the disciples minds. I wonder what would have happened if there was not a betrayer included among Jesus’ followers.

Before time began, everything was put in place to point to that specific weekend. If none of the disciples chose to betray Jesus, I wonder how Jesus’ arrest would have happened. Maybe a Pharisee spy would catch sight of Jesus and His followers leaving the city and go tell the leading priests. Or maybe someone else in the garden would see them and go and turn Jesus’ location in for a reward.

But knowing that Jesus’ betrayal was predicted and knowing that it would happen on that specific night, even though Jesus shares a mean statement, He still loved Judas Iscariot. Right up to the end, He gave Judas every opportunity to change his heart and mind. Jesus knew it was Judas, and instead of kicking Judas out of the disciples circle, He allowed him to stay and He chose to continue loving His betrayer.

This is an amazing picture of God that we don’t usually see. Jesus chose to love the one who betrayed Him, and while it may have been better if Judas Iscariot had never been born, God did bring him into this world, and Jesus chose to love and include Him. This emphasizes the truth that God and Jesus love sinners, including you and me, and even when we mess up, God still loves us.

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Measuring Our Attitude: Luke 6:37-42

Focus Passage: Luke 6:37-42 (NIV)

37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

39 He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.

41 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Read Luke 6:37-42 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

One of the most widely circulated verses in the “prosperity gospel” crowd can be found during one of Jesus’ famous sermons. While it is hinted at in Matthew’s gospels’ famous “Sermon on the Mount”, Luke describes it in greater detail in the sermon called the “Sermon on the Plain”.

But like what often happens in our sound-bite culture, only half the truth is shared – and in this case, while each verse in Jesus’ key point can stand alone, when put together, we see a clearer theme communicated.

Luke tells us Jesus preached, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (v. 37-38)

Too often, we are tempted to focus on the giving and receiving section of this verse, but Jesus is really describing a principle that relates more towards our attitude than our wealth. The key statement in these two verses is the last one: “For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (v. 38c)

This idea describes not only the giving side of the topic, but the whole attitude focus of both verses. The principle here is that we will get from the world what we give into it. How we look at the world will eventually become the way the world (i.e. others) look at us.

But it isn’t an equal ratio – this principle is intentionally unfair. Linked closer to the final phrase than the one before it, the second last statement speaks to the unfair nature of this principle: “A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.” (v. 38b)

Both statements use the word “measure”, but the unfair statement describes how we actually get a more concentrated result than we give. If we chose to extend a little grace on a regular basis, we may find ourselves receiving grace in a much greater, more concentrated forms.

This truth is relevant in all areas of our attitude, but I believe Jesus draws our attention onto these four (judging, condemning, forgiving, and giving) because He knows these have the greatest power over the quality of our lives. A welcoming, friendly, forgiving, generous person is much more pleasant to spend time with than a judgmental, condemning, grudge-keeping, stingy person. Those who follow and apply Jesus’ words will simply have better relationships. These better relationships may translate into more material wealth, but not necessarily.

Nothing in this passage says that the repayment will happen using the same currency or even that it will happen in the same place in history. Jesus’ words are simply a promise that it will happen – and if it doesn’t happen in this life, then God has promised to make it so in the life to come. When we don’t judge, perhaps God chooses not to judge us; when we don’t condemn, perhaps God chooses to not condemn us; when we forgive, perhaps God then forgives us; and when we give, perhaps that becomes an open invitation for God to bless us. It may not happen in the present; God may be saving it for His kingdom that is to come!

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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