The Wild Places Bible Guide – 28
April 17, 2019
Wednesday, April 17
Mark 14:27-52 (CEB)
27 Jesus said to them, “You will all falter in your faithfulness to me. It is written, I will hit the shepherd, and the sheep will go off in all directions. 28 But after I’m raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”
29 Peter said to him, “Even if everyone else stumbles, I won’t.”
30 But Jesus said to him, “I assure you that on this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.”
31 But Peter insisted, “If I must die alongside you, I won’t deny you.” And they all said the same thing.
32 Jesus and his disciples came to a place called Gethsemane. Jesus said to them, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James, and John along with him. He began to feel despair and was anxious. 34 He said to them, “I’m very sad. It’s as if I’m dying. Stay here and keep alert.” 35 Then he went a short distance farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if possible, he might be spared the time of suffering. 36 He said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible. Take this cup of suffering away from me. However—not what I want but what you want.”
37 He came and found them sleeping. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you stay alert for one hour? 38 Stay alert and pray so that you won’t give in to temptation. The spirit is eager, but the flesh is weak.”
39 Again, he left them and prayed, repeating the same words. 40 And, again, when he came back, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open, and they didn’t know how to respond to him. 41 He came a third time and said to them, “Will you sleep and rest all night? That’s enough! The time has come for the Human One to be betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Get up! Let’s go! Look, here comes my betrayer.”
43 Suddenly, while Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, came with a mob carrying swords and clubs. They had been sent by the chief priests, legal experts, and elders. 44 His betrayer had given them a sign: “Arrest the man I kiss, and take him away under guard.”
45 As soon as he got there, Judas said to Jesus, “Rabbi!” Then he kissed him. 46 Then they came and grabbed Jesus and arrested him.
47 One of the bystanders drew a sword and struck the high priest’s slave and cut off his ear. 48 Jesus responded, “Have you come with swords and clubs to arrest me, like an outlaw? 49 Day after day, I was with you, teaching in the temple, but you didn’t arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled.” 50 And all his disciples left him and ran away. 51 One young man, a disciple, was wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They grabbed him, 52 but he left the linen cloth behind and ran away naked.
Points of Interest
- As Jesus looks at his friends, he quotes an obscure but evocative passage of Hebrew scripture. In Zechariah 13, there is this line about violence done to a shepherd and the sheep being scattered. Jesus sees this playing out before him, just as he does a previous verse that refers to the wounds dealt to us by our friends inside their own homes. There is no wound we experience, however odd or however deep, that God who is with us in Jesus, cannot imagine or relate to.
- The last time we saw the trio of Peter, James, and John, they were witnessing Jesus’ healing power in giving life to a 12-year old girl. Now they witness Jesus’ pain and doubt, as he feels the great cost of his healing mission. There is irony, of course, that Peter pledges unending, heroic, loyal partnership, but can’t even stay awake in Jesus’ hour of need. Our spirits are all so much more eager than our capacity for follow through, aren’t they? Jesus knows and accepts this. He encourages us to ask God for all the help we need.
- Jesus prays to God on both intimate terms (“Daddy”) and desperate ones (“take away this suffering”). Trust and intimacy can accompany even honest desperation. Perhaps this is an answered prayer – God will raise Jesus from the dead, not abandoning him to grave. And perhaps this is also unanswered prayer – Jesus will continue to suffer; that is not averted. In both our answered and our unanswered prayer, Jesus is with us.
- Jesus says he is betrayed into the hands of sinners – as if to say, this is what sin looks like, in its many forms. There is a kiss used for betrayal, and weapons used to batter, hurt, and kill. Intimacy perverted into harm, violence to our spirits or bodies, through words or through force. This is the usual way of things in a hard, off the mark, world.
- As all Jesus’ students flee in fear, there is this one boy who barely gets away naked. Perhaps this boy is the author Mark, a little sibling or young friend of one of the disciples. Perhaps the boy is in a way all the disciples – unmasked in their not-yet-transformed immaturity and fear. And perhaps in a way the boy is all of us, so often afraid and vulnerable, and running from God and running from love, just when we need each other most.
A Direction for Prayer
Pray for the naked boy in all your friends and family, in all of us. Pray for yourself, and pray by name for people you love, that when we are most vulnerable and afraid, we will run toward love and connection, and we will run toward God.
Spiritual Exercise of the Week
Toward Courage over Fear – If you’re up for it today, consider for a moment a great fear of yours – a failure, a loss, or trouble you might face, perhaps even your own death. Ask Jesus to assure you that Jesus will be with you should you face this fear. Ask Jesus: how will you be with me in compassion and strength? After a few moments of imaginative prayer, welcoming Jesus’ presence with you, close by praying this short excerpt from the ancient prayer, The Breastplate of Saint Patrick:
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of Christ’s healing with his laughter,
Through the strength of Christ’s teaching with his feasting,
Through the strength of Christ’s crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of Christ’s resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of Christ’s descent for the judgment of doom.