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Jesus, the Prayer Warrior

August 15, 2021

Teacher: Daniel Baker
Scripture: Mark 14:26–42

The Prayer Warrior

Mark 14:26–42 – “Introducing…Jesus” – Aug 15, 2021

Introduction

A reading of Mark 14:26–31.

On the night before D-Day, June 6, 1944, Dwight D. Eisenhower distributed a message to the troops involved in the invasion:

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hope and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world….

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!

Also a second note. Hand-written. In case a defeat. Kept in his wallet:

“Our landings…have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. This particular operation [He scratched this out and replaced with] My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”[1]

So nervous he got the date wrong, July 6 instead of June 6.

These two notes provide a window into the battle before the battle for Eisenhower.

The garden of Gethsemane is the place where Jesus fights the battle before the battle. It’s a battle he fights alone. Entirely alone.

  • No guns…tanks…NO BROTHERS-IN-ARMS to join him
  • Not failure that scares him but SUCCESS.
  • God’s plan being successful means horror for him.
  • And either way, the outcome of this battle eternally significant.

Where we are in the STORYLINE:

  • Just after midnight, early Friday morning before Jesus is crucified.
  • Crucified later this day, 9am (Mark 15:25).
  • After midnight because that’s when Passover meal would end.[2]
  • Events of the week feel distant—Sunday’s triumphal entry, Monday’s cleansing of the temple, Tuesday’s battles with Jewish leaders.

A lot already even on this particular night:

  • Preparations for Passover
  • Washing of disciples’ feet
  • Judas leaves to betray Jesus (John 13:26–30).
  • The Passover meal and inauguration Lord’s Supper
  • The Upper Room Discourse in John’s gospel, chps 14–17.

Thus far Jesus fully in control.

  • And when his betrayers come (14:41–42) again in control.
  • But in this Gethsemane moment, he crumbles.
  • This is the BATTLE BEFORE THE BATTLE.
  • But when you get to Gethsemane MARK INTRODUCES US TO JESUS…THE PRAYER WARRIOR.
  • It’s Jesus the Warrior fighting a completely different kind of battle.
  • He’s the Prayer Warrior.
  • This is the battle before the battle.
  • The battle fought alone before the one where you confront the enemies.

Prayer — COVID, Schools, year ahead at Cornerstone

I. The Prayer Warrior Goes Alone (14:26–31)

“When they had sung a hymn” = The Hallel Psalms 113–118 would be sung at the Passover. 113–114 before the meal and 115–118 after. This meal would take hours and not begin till after nightfall. Thus, likely after midnight when you’re singing Ps 118.[3]

Jesus singing Ps 118. Verses like these:

22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone….
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!
We bless you from the house of the LORD. (Ps 118:22, 26)

Then to Mount of Olives.

  • Most of the city on one west side of temple (now destroyed).
  • Then the temple.
  • Continuing east a small valley, Kidron Valley.
  • Go up the hillside on other side of valley is Mount of Olives.
  • On Mount of Olives is Gethsemane.
  • Not far from Jerusalem, few hundred yards.
  • Whole city about a mile across at this time.

Wastes no time and speaks a very sobering prophecy.

Mark 14:27–28.

The OT prophecy is from Zech 13:7. There’s a subtle change to the verb used, “I will strike…”

  • Not Judas, though his betrayal is real.
  • Not Satan, though his malicious intent is real.
  • Not the Jews, though their conspiracy and murder is real.
  • Not the Romans, though their injustice and political maneuvering is real.
  • “I will strike” = The Father.

This idea is important for the whole narrative. Jesus’ prayer makes sense only in light of the fact the Father has providential control over all that is happening. Why pray if the Father is not in charge of events?

Three denials prophesied of Peter and three fulfilled in 14:66–72.

  • A “threefold denial indicates the thoroughness” of Peter’s refusal (Lane, NICNT, 512–513).
  • Three times Jesus will ask Peter after the resurrection, “Do you love me?” (John 21:15).

APPLICATION: See the way our salvation was accomplished.

  • The lonely walk of the SHEPHERD.
  • Acting alone for the sake of the MANY.

Peter Bolt:

Jesus will face this battle alone. He alone can embrace this hour….He will go where the many will not go, so that the many might never have to go there at all.
Peter Bolt, The Cross from a Distance[4]

APPLICATION: Don’t pretend you can save yourself.

  • This passage shows us what we’re made of.
  • Peter isn’t the worst we have to offer.
  • He’s a great man.
  • Within 6 hours he denies Jesus 3 times.
  • We’re no better.
  • We can’t save ourselves!

II. The Prayer Warrior Makes a Final Appeal (14:32–36)

In Gethsemane. A Hebrew phrase that means “oil press.” Brought over into Greek and now English.

An oil press is a vivid word picture for this moment. That’s precisely what’s happening here.

The emotional anguish:

  • “Distressed and troubled” (v. 33)
  • “sorrowful, even to death” (v. 34). Borrowing language from Pss 42–43, “Why are you downcast, my soul?” (42:6, 12; 43:5).
  • “Was falling on the ground,” prayed “the hour might pass” (v. 35).

But it’s his prayer that is so arresting, surprising.

“Abba, Father…”

  • No Jewish precedent for this kind of language for addressing God—not in the OT or any Jewish literature.
  • It is a combination of RESPECT and INTIMACY.
  • So hard to find the right English word that all English translations simply keep the Aramaic, Abba.
  • “Daddy” doesn’t work. “Dear Father” some have said.[5]
  • How wonderful that we get to address God with the same language!
  • Romans 8:15:

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Rom 8:15)

“All things are possible for you”

  • Already twice he had said this in the Gospel of Mark.
  • Mark 9:23; 10:27.
  • 9:23 casting a demon out of a boy.
  • The father was doubting but Jesus told him “all things are possible to him who believes.”
  • 10:27 speaking about the rich getting into the kingdom of heaven.
  • Even they can be saved because “all things are possible with God.”

“Remove this cup from me.”

  • This is an urgent appeal.
  • Already in Mark 14:35, “prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.”
  • Now the appeal—strong, direct language
  • He’s really asking for “this cup” to be taken from him.
  • You can even imagine a moment of silence as Jesus waits for the answer…
  • Three times he will make the same request…
  • It’s an APPEAL but also not REFUSING to drink the cup=4th statement

“Yet not what I will but what you will” (v. 36).

  • His last statement gives voice to his full commitment to will of the Father.
  • PRAYS for the cup to be removed, but if the Father’s will is unbending he will DRINK the cup.

In a moment like this we see the TWO NATURES of Christ come together.

  • Early church wrestled with explaining Jesus.
  • They established Jesus was ONE PERSON WITH TWO NATURES.
  • And then clarified that TWO WILLS IN CHRIST.
  • At the Council of Constantinople in AD 681.
  • Said that Christ had “a will of the flesh” and a “divine will.”[6]
  • Also said his “will of the flesh” was always “subject to his divine and all-powerful will.”
  • That’s why though tempted, he never sinned.

John Calvin writing about Gethsemane said:

As musical sounds, though various and differing from each other, are so far from being discordant, that they produce sweet melody and fine harmony; so in Christ there was a remarkable example of adaptation between the two wills, the will of God and the will of man, so that they differed from each other without any conflict or opposition.
John Calvin, Harmony of the Gospels[7]

  • In Gethsemane his “will of the flesh” truly desired to take another path, but his “divine will” desired even more to take the path the Father had laid out for him.

APPLICATION: Learn the power of Jesus’ prayer (Mark 14:36)—Feel the weight of ALL 4 ELEMENTS

III. The Prayer Warrior Calls Us to Stay Awake (14:37–42)

Mark’s narrative has a secondary theme.

  • We are to be fixated on Christ.
  • See him as the Warrior accomplishing our redemption.
  • And yet, how we are to live a life of prayer is also there.
  • Now the Prayer Warrior Calls Us to Stay Awake—READ Mark 14:37–42.

This emphasis is somewhat unique to Mark.

  • Luke’s emphasis is on Jesus’ agony.
  • He records for us that Jesus sweat drops of blood he was so tormented.
  • In Matthew’s gospel he records three times the words of Jesus’ own prayer— “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done” (26:42).
  • Matthew and Luke do include Jesus’ appeal to “pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

But it’s Mark where the command for us to pray is really emphasized.

  • If we zoom out a bit we can taken in the end of Mark 13.
  • Three times Jesus commanded us to “Stay awake!” to be ready for the return of Christ (Mark 13:34, 35, 37).
  • That Greek verb for “Stay awake!” is the same as the one in this passage for “Keep watch”—Mark 14:34, 37, 38.

The REASON we pray? Mark 14:37that you may not enter into temptation.

  • There is a connection between our prayer lives and “enter into temptation.”
  • The more you pray, the less you sin.
  • The more you sin, the less you pray.
  • There’s a false teaching out there that you can experience what’s called “entire sanctification” and then never sin again in this life.
  • That’s a false view.
  • But it’s also a false view to say you can’t grow in holiness and grow so you experience less temptation.
  • We might be sinners until we die, but that doesn’t mean we have to sin in every temptation we face.
  • And prayer is one of the ways we battle temptation.

The REALITIES of prayer—Mark 14:37the spirit/Spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak.

  • Our “flesh.”
  • Word “flesh” (sarx) isn’t exactly equal to our physical skin, this “flesh.”
  • But…related.
  • Temptations that are real and difficult connected to this body we occupy.
  • Physical cravings, physical limitations.
  • These disciples are sleeping because their physical bodies are tired.
  • That’s part of the weakness of the flesh.
  • But then there are sins connected to this body of flesh we occupy.
  • Fatigue is part of its weakness, but so is Laziness.
  • Fatigue isn’t a sin but Laziness
  • Our flesh is connected to both kinds of weakness—natural/sinful
  • Jesus calls us to lean into a different source of power: The Holy Spirit.

APPLICATION: Jesus here is calling us to STAY AWAKE.

  • To be spiritually awake.
  • And to pray because—“not enter into temptation.”
  • We’re no different from the disciples.
  • Physically weak
  • Spiritually weak 

The passage ends on another low note, the BETRAYER.

  • What Jesus promised at the beginning is now unfolding.
  • The Betrayer is one those key dominos that leads to, “Strike the Shepherd.”
  • But notice, too, Jesus’ command and authority.
  • The Battle in Gethsemane was won.
  • Now he engages the enemy without hesitation.

Conclusion

Summary – Mark gives us one of those passages that pays dividends when you slow down and read it prayerfully. Trying to imagine the moment. Hearing every sentence and what is says about our Savior.

We need to hear the reality of Jesus prophesying of being struck by the Father and all his companions deserting him.

We need to hear the reality of his unanswered prayer. And his determination to embrace the will of the Father.

We need to hear his clear statement about the connection between prayer and temptation.

Here we find two clear applications.

  • Learn Jesus’ prayer – Mark 14:36 – Asking but accepting…
  • “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation” – Mark 14:38
  • I’m a big believer in 5 minutes.
  • My experience with 3 hours.

Most of our lives don’t get the attention of history like Eisenhower and the invasion of Normandy.

  • Some of our hardest battles will be the ones we fight alone.
  • Tim Keller reminds us we might feel alone, but if we believe in Jesus and are his, we are not alone.
  • Tim Keller

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus saw that if he obeyed God fully, he’d be absolutely abandoned by God and, essentially, destroyed in hell. No one else has ever faced such a situation. Only Jesus truly “served God for nothing.”…
Jesus was assaulted by Satan. But in the greatest reversal of all, Satan only brought about the achievement of God’s salvation and grace….
When you suffer without relief, when you feel absolutely alone you can know that, because he bore your sin, he will be with you.
You can know you are walking the same path Jesus walked, so you are not alone—and that path is only taking you to him.
Tim Keller, Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering[8]

Prayer

[1] David Zucchino, LA Times, June 5, 2014.

[2] Later Mishnah records the traditions likely used at the time of Christ. It is speculation to say these traditions were the ones utilized by Jesus but not unreasonable. See R.T. France, The Gospel of Mark, NIGTC (Eerdmans, 2002), 574.

[3] See “Hallel,” Encyclopaedia Judaica (2008).

[4] Peter Bolt, The Cross from a Distance, NSBT, 110.

[5] See the commentaries by R.T. France and William Lane for more on Abba. Also Peter Bolt’s The Cross from a Distance.

[6] Excerpt of The Statement of Faith of the Third Council of Constantinople (681 AD, Sixth Ecumenical): “We also proclaim two natural willings or wills in him and two natural operations, without separation, without change, without partition, without confusion, according to the teaching of the holy Fathers—and two natural wills not contrary to each other, God forbid, as the impious heretics have said they would be, but his human will following, and not resisting or opposing, but rather subject to his divine and all-powerful will. For it was proper for the will of the flesh to be moved naturally, yet to be subject to the divine will, according to the all-wise Athanasius.”

[7] John Calvin, A Harmony of the Gospels at Matt 26:39/Mark 14:36.

[8] Tim Keller, Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering (Riverhead, 2013), 293.

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