Daily Devotional

March 20, 2019

Daybreak: Mark 14:32-52

“And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour?” (Mark 14:37)

During the early years of my marriage, I experienced a nagging health problem over a prolonged period of time. My wife and I would seek God about the matter, and through prayer and trust in Him, I would seemingly get the victory over this, only to have it recur several months later. The last attack was the worst of all — that time it seemed as if I was on a roller coaster. We would trust and pray and I would find relief, only for it to get worse again. 

It reached a crisis one night, and my wife called for our minister to come over and anoint my head with oil and pray for me according to James 5:14. Coming to our home was not a small thing on his part. To get to our house, he had to drive some forty miles one way, but he was willing. After a good session of prayer and some encouraging words, he left. And, praise the Lord, the answer came! I not only recovered from the problem very quickly after that, but in all the years since then, it has never come back. 

This taught me a little about the value of watching in prayer. That minister invested his personal time and effort to come and pray for me in my hour of need, and God answered our prayers. In contrast, we find in our focus verse that Jesus asked His disciples to pray with Him in His time of agony, and yet they fell asleep. 

We need to tarry in prayer for one another. Are we faithful and persevering in that privilege? It is easy to tell people that we will pray for them. Yet if we are not careful, we might actually spend little time or intensity in prayer, in spite of our good intentions. Perhaps a person’s life or well-being depends on our faithfulness. It is even possible that an eternal soul is hanging in the balance. Let’s challenge ourselves to watch and pray faithfully for others!

Background

Jesus and His disciples had finished the Passover meal, and Jesus had instituted the Lord’s Supper. Then they walked east about half a mile from the walls of Jerusalem to Gethsemane. The word Gethsemane means “oil-press.” Situated at the foot of the Mount of Olives, Gethsemane was no doubt the site where workers processed the olives from the nearby hillside. The location provided seclusion and quiet, and it is thought that Jesus and His followers frequently went there. That night, there was an ominous pressure on Jesus, and He desperately needed to pray.

Verses 32-42 record one of the saddest and most intimate scenes in all of Holy Scripture. Leaving most of the group near the garden’s entrance, Jesus took the three who were closest to Him (Peter, James, and John) and went a little further into the grove. These three men had seen Christ transfigured, and on this night, they witnessed His extreme agony. Bible scholars speculate about why He brought these three close to the place where He would agonize in prayer, but then went beyond for a short distance. Some think that He did not really need their prayers, but that they were there simply to witness the enormity of the ordeal. Another explanation is that while Jesus ultimately had to pay the supreme sacrifice from His own heart, in His humanity He needed the moral and spiritual support of those close to Him.

In verse 34, Jesus said, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death.” Although Jesus was truly the Son of God — the co-Creator of the entire world — He had laid aside His kingly powers and authority to come to earth and live in a body of flesh and blood. Jesus knew that the torture leading up to and culminating on the Cross was going to be unbelievably painful. His human body naturally drew back from the pain.

Yet, there was a far more serious dimension beyond the coming physical pain and suffering. Jesus, who had never sinned in His entire existence, was about to take on Himself the sins of the entire world, including those of all people, past, present, and future. Because God is supremely righteous, He cannot look upon sin, and Jesus knew that taking mankind’s sins upon Himself would mean separation from the Father. Jesus was facing the reality of paying that price, and in supreme agony, He sweat “as it were great drops of blood” (Luke 22:44). 

Jesus prayed that if it were possible to save mankind any other way, that way would be taken. Nevertheless, if giving His own life was the only way, He was willing. Three different times He made this plea. By the third time, there was no need for further prayer. He was totally committed, and the time was at hand.

Verses 43-52 document the arrival of the soldiers, guided by the traitor, Judas, who greeted Jesus with a hypocritical kiss of friendship though He was there to lead Jesus to His death. Peter took a sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant Malchus (see John 18:10), but Jesus healed him (see Luke 22:50-51). Verse 50 says, “And they all forsook him, and fled,” showing the fulfillment of the prophecy recorded in verse 27. 

Most commentators agree that verses 51-52 probably refer to John Mark, the writer of the Book of Mark. It is possible that the Last Supper was held in the Upper Room of the home of Mark’s mother, Mary. If so, Mark may have gone to Gethsemane with the disciples and witnessed the arrest himself. He could have easily been arrested also, and escaped by leaving his clothes, perhaps in the hands of the soldiers. Since no other Gospel mentions this account, it may have been Mark’s way of indicating that he was actually there when the arrest took place.

Amplified Outline

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
VII.   The Crucifixion and Resurrection of the Son of God
       E.   The prayer in Gethsemane (14:32-42)
       F.   The betrayal and arrest (14:43-52)
             1.   Judas’ betrayal (14:43-46)
             2.   Peter’s defense (14:47-49)
             3.   The disciples’ flight (14:50-52)

A Closer Look

  1. Why did the disciples sleep instead of praying as Jesus asked them?
     
  2. Why do you think the disciples all fled during the arrest?
     
  3. What steps might we take to help us be fervent in prayer?

Conclusion

Today, each of us should pray for others, that God will help and strengthen them in their times of need.

Reference Materials