Today’s Readings: Judges 15, Acts 19, Jeremiah 28, Mark 14
“Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36)
I’ve read Mark Chapter 14 over a few times this week. It’s dark, it’s desperate and the more time you spend with it, the more visceral it becomes. I’m not sure that I’ve ever taken the time to just read this text and absorb it. I began the week with lots of notes, scrawls and scratches in the margins everywhere. I wanted to really “bring it” today as I feel that this is one of the most important moments in the Bible. I decided though, this morning that I’m not going to bring it all. I can’t. Instead, I want to invite you to get on your knees and pray how Jesus did.
So really, join me. Stop what you’re doing and get to your knees. Say it in Jesus’ words:
Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.
When I consider Mark 14, I really identify with Peter. Poor Peter, so earnest in his pursuit of total devotion to Jesus Christ. Jesus predicts it. He tells him flat out, you will betray me. And Peter, so sure of himself, so sure of his commitment says:
“If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” (Mark 14:31)
When I read that, my heart is in my throat. You see it’s not that he is lying here. He is so sure of himself, so sure that nothing can take him from the side of Jesus. But then… How many of us can see the reflection of Peter in ourselves? How many of us are so sure on Sunday morning, hands outstretched to the heavens only to back away, hands hanging, head down on Monday morning. Me. That’s me. So often we hurt the people we love the most. Hurt and betray the people we’ve promised “only you” for life. There’s only one person that has the power, the strength the grace to keep his promises. It’s Jesus.
Marks shares with us this tiny glimpse. Like a beam of light, shining like a sliver on the floor of a dark room. He shows us a vulnerable Jesus. A Jesus that has no one in the dark night but his Abba his Father. In a few short words, he surrenders. He knows what’s to come and he accepts it. He asks to be relieved of the pain and the fear but then he turns it all over. I think for me as a growing Christian it’s so important to pause at this point and realize that God didn’t take Jesus’ suffering away. In fact, there really is no noticeable transcendent answer to his pleading. We know what comes next. We know that Jesus walks willingly into his own death on the cross. What a valuable lesson for us. God doesn’t answer our desperate prayers immediately, but he hears them.
Yet not what I will, what you will…
Jesus overcame fear and hesitation in the garden at Gethsemane. As that night wore on, his disciples betrayed him but he was not alone.
Abba, Father, give us strength to stand strong at the side of your son Jesus. Hear our prayer this week that it isn’t what I will but what You will. Give us long-range vision. Help us to understand in our darkest moments that you hear us and that in our surrender to you we’ll find rest.