The prayer of Jesus in the Garden not only reveals the mystery of the Incarnation, but also invites us to pray without limit, hesitation, or fear. Most of us have learned not to tell the Lord what is truly in our hearts, at least not when we’re desperate, sad, angry, or doubting. We might give God a hint about what we’re really thinking and feeling. But, usually we couch this in safe and well-rehearsed spiritual language.
Jesus’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane is, in my opinion, the most astounding prayer . . . ever. There is no prayer in Scripture that surprises us more than this one. And there is no prayer in Scripture that more passionately invites us into the very heart of Jesus and the mystery of God’s nature.
If you’re familiar with the story of Jesus praying in Gethsemane, you know that the three disciples whom he selected to come along with him did not “keep watch.” The Greek verb used here can also mean, “stay awake.” In fact, Peter, James, and John fell asleep while Jesus was praying, much to his chagrin (14:37-38).
Almost all Christians remember the events of the Last Supper and reenact those events on a regular basis. Some of us call this “Communion.” Others call it the “Eucharist” or the “Lord’s Supper” or the “Mass.” But, no matter the differences in name or theological nuance, all Christians understand that the sharing of bread and the cup in a worship service is an occasion to remember what Jesus did for us on the cross. It is a time to look back so that we might be renewed and refreshed in the present.
Today, as we make our way devotionally through the Gospel of Mark, we come to the Last Supper, the Passover meal that Jesus shared with his disciples on the night before his crucifixion. As I read Mark 14:22-23, I am struck once again by something I didn’t see for the first five decades of my life. It’s something I’ve mentioned before in these Life for Leaders devotions. It’s something that is both obvious and usually overlooked. Thus, I want to reflect on it once again.
I want to pause one more day to reflect with you on the story of the woman who anointed Jesus with expensive perfume. In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion I focused on the costly sacrifice of the woman who anointed Jesus with such expensive perfume. Today, I want to draw our attention to something Jesus said in response to this generous act.
Some who observed the anointing of Jesus by the woman objected that this was a huge waste of money. Had the jar been sold, it would have brought in a large sum to care for the poor (14:4-5). But Jesus defended the woman’s actions. Her sacrifice for him was costly indeed and absolutely appropriate. Not only was she expressing her deep love for Jesus, but, unknowingly, she was also preparing him for his burial (14:6-9).
In Jesus’ explanation of today’s text, he cites “the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things” (Mark 4:19) as impediments that keep us from attending to our leadership vocation. It’s easy to hear these as bad, perhaps even immoral, diversions. No doubt, morally compromising temptations exist in every leadership setting. But, I’m not sure that’s all that Jesus meant.
At the end of Mark 13, after revealing key elements of the future, Jesus tells his disciples: “What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’” (13:37). What does this mean for us? What happens when we watch? And how might this be relevant to our daily lives, including our work?
I was deeply troubled by Jesus’s startling admission that he did not know the exact timetable for the end times. How could this be possible for the Son of God?