Published October 8, 2009
Mark 14:27-34, 37-38, 43, 48-50
Related Sunday School Lesson, Bible Studies for Life, Oct 18
Vance Havner once wrote, “We need a heart warming …. The early Christians did not need a shot in the arm every Sunday to keep them going. They knew Jesus and they upset the world and worried the devil and gave wicked rulers insomnia and started something the jails couldn’t lock up, fire couldn’t burn, water couldn’t drown, swords couldn’t kill …. You may belittle experience and speak of the dangers of emotion, but we are suffering today from a species of Christianity as dry as dust, as cold as ice, as pale as a corpse, and as dead as King Tut. We are suffering, not from a lack of correct heads but of consumed hearts.”
The challenge the modern church faces in this secular humanist society is the need to guard against falling into the elusive trap of becoming apathetic in our attitude towards Jesus and thus becoming just like his disciples who betrayed Him just before He went to the cross. Most of us don’t like to ponder the fact that we could betray Jesus because when we think of betraying Him, we think of Judas’ actions on that fateful night that ultimately led to our Lord being crucified on a Roman cross.
However, this word “betray” carries the idea of becoming disloyal to someone or some cause and we are just as capable as anyone else of becoming disloyal to the Lord Jesus if we do not guard ourselves from the world, the flesh, and the devil.
There are some lessons we can learn from the disciples as they fled the scene the night Jesus was arrested.
Unaware of danger - Mark 14:27-31
These verses find Jesus and His disciples on the Mount of Olives, a place our Lord frequented throughout His ministry here on earth. They had just observed the Passover together where Jesus frightingly predicted that one of His disciples was going to betray Him that very night. And, as if that were not enough, before Jesus goes off alone to pray to the Father, He predicts that all of them will “fall away” as He quotes from Zechariah 13:7.
Then we have audacious Peter, who was clearly unaware of the danger which lay ahead of him, boldly proclaim that even if he had to die he would never turn his back on Jesus. This statement came after Jesus had told Peter he would disown Him three times before morning came. No doubt Peter had already displayed overconfidence in himself and this time would be the one who would bring the most sorrow.
When it comes to following Jesus we need to be aware of the danger of becoming overconfident in our abilities. We forget that the only way we can make an impact in this world is through keeping our eyes on Jesus, the One Who has all power and authority at His disposal. Overconfidence can be detrimental to our spiritual health.
Asleep in the danger - Mark 14:32-34, 37-38
Had the disciples been fully aware of what was about to take place, I dare say they would have been asleep. They would have been faithful to watch and pray while Jesus went off by Himself to pray. Nonetheless, in the midst of oncoming danger, they were unable to fight the flesh and remain awake during this most critical of times in the ministry of Jesus.
Before we go casting stones at the disciples for the lack of spiritual maturity in this situation, we need to realize how often we are just as guilty. There are times as the battle rages when we fall “asleep” and neglect the spiritual discipline of watching and praying.
We must guard against “falling asleep” and giving into the flesh and seek to maintain a vibrant and growing relationship with the Lord Jesus no matter how tough the battle may be. One way we can do this is by making our relationship with the Lord a priority in our lives and not allowing the cares of this world to crowd it out.
Fleeing from danger - Mark 14:43, 48-50
Even though the disciples had expressed determination to remain faithful no matter the danger or consequences, in these verses they clearly were unable to uphold their promise, as they fled from Jesus as the Roman soldiers came and arrested Him. Could you imagine the sorrow Jesus felt when He saw His closest of friends abandoning Him in His greatest time of need?
Following Jesus can be dangerous.
Personally, I don’t agree with people who say, “The will of God is the safest place to be.” No, I believe the will of God is the best place to be, but not necessarily the safest place to be. Christians today are dying as a result of being right in the center of God’s will.
Danger is all around Christians today because our battle is not against flesh and blood but Satan and his kingdom of darkness seeking to destroy the word and work of God in and around our lives.
What Jesus is looking for are disciples who are not going to flee when the danger comes their way. He is looking for those who are going to count the cost and follow Him. Therefore, we must guard against betraying our Lord as we continue to fight the good fight of faith.
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