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3.28.21 Abide with Me Mark 14.32-42 Sermon Summary

by on April 1, 2021

Throughout worship this season of Lent we have focused on one event for each day of Holy Week.  We started on Sunday with Jesus’ Triumphal Entry. We heard from Saul the animal rental associate. From his perspective, Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem served as publicity for the Kingdom of God and as protest against the Kingdom of Rome.

On Monday we witnessed Jesus turning the tables of money changers and animal dealers. We heard from Daniel who was convicted of living a non-religious life when not in religious activities.

Tuesday we watched Jesus answer the question of paying taxes to Rome. Amram a disciple of the Pharisees discovered that all things belong to God—even Amram’s own life. He wondered whether he could he spend his life following Jesus?

Come Wednesday evening an unnamed woman anointed Jesus’ head. Later we listened as Meshulam a chief priest and co-conspirator to assassinate Jesus reflected on Jesus’ teaching that God’s Kingdom is “doing what you can do.” He wondered if there’s room in Jesus’ Kingdom for him.

Thursday evening Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. Eliezer one of the disciples was there. He was challenged to learn that calling Jesus “Rabbi and Master,” “Teacher and Lord” did not a disciple make. Instead Jesus is mostly interested in love and service.

Now we arrive at Friday, a day of betrayal, estrangement, and isolation

Through reading the various gospel accounts of Holy Week, we have seen that there are differences in the Gospels. There are four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They were named in the century following Jesus. They share some material and each contains unique material. 

They are not eye-witness accounts of historical events though there is something historical behind their stories. Rather they are testimonies of faith intended to evoke faith, challenge faith, and strengthen faith.

One reason they differ is because different communities experience Jesus differently. We experience Jesus differently in liturgical churches vs. revivalist churches, in Black churches vs. Latin American churches, for example. And Pentecostals certainly experience Jesus differently than Presbyterians.

If one experiences Jesus differently, one will speak about Jesus differently. This has been the case since Gospel times. Mark’s Jesus, for example, is a demon-casting teacher, always on the move, and desperate to be delivered by God. On the other hand, John’s Jesus is a slow-talking theosophist so close to God as to be hardly distinguishable.

Holy Week (Jesus’ Passion Narrative) accentuates the differences among the Gospels. We see different perspectives, watch different experiences, and hear different testimonies. Whereas John’s Jesus presents God to us, Mark’s Jesus presents us to God. 

In first person as Jacob, stealthily

It’s me Jacob. You know me as James the brother of John. I’m one of the “big three” along with Peter. It’s the middle of the night, which for us Jews is the beginning of the day. You see we recognize God was at work in the world five days before creating us on the sixth day. God is still working before we wake up, so our day starts in the evening. God works secretly before we work publicly. 

But it’s hard to know how God is working in the middle of this night. It’s dark—really dark. I’ve never seen such darkness . . . or felt it either. And we’re so tired. Adonai, are we tired! What a week!

Passover is full of feasting and festivities. This year it also has a lot of flag-waving. Would Jesus lead a revolt? It seemed like it on Sunday when we had the protest march into Jerusalem. Then on Monday Jesus called us to repentance. Tuesday he said “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s but give to God what is God’s.”

But Wednesday a woman interrupted our dinner with an anointing of Jesus’ head. He talked of death and dying. And earlier tonight Jesus washed our feet like a slave would do! It reminds me of his interpretation around breaking bread and pouring the cup as presenting his own death out of love.

Then he led us to Gethsemane and told us to watch and pray. This was a theme in Jesus’ ministry, this vigilance in prayer. He said without it you miss little glimpses of God and of the Kingdom. If you miss those glimpses you may get discouraged. You can’t join God’s mission. You may even lose faith.

Nothing really new, going to Gethsemane. Jesus took me, John, and Peter a little further. That wasn’t really new either. We were the three with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. And then he went even further—and again this was not really new. Jesus often withdrew by himself to pray.

We asked him once how to pray. He taught us to pray for the Kingdom and for God’s will, to give thanks for daily sustenance, to shed the burden of sin through forgiveness, and to ask for deliverance through trials and temptations. He did this kind of meditative prayer often, so tonight really wasn’t so different.

But we were so tired! The week’s activities, the past months of itinerant preaching, our own ministries of teaching and healing, all this uncertainty about death had all taken a toll. It is like a virus engulfing the world, not knowing if it would happen, when it would happen, or what the result would be.

John and I are concerned for our dad Zebedee. I know parents are concerned for their children. There’s instability in our nation, fighting among our fellow Israelites, and divided leadership between the Pharisees and Sadducees, the Zealots and Herodians. Jesus wanted to unite us all—even the Samaritans! So much partisanship. So much anxiety. So much fear. Exhausting!

I’m even tired of praying. So tonight when Jesus went off to pray, we caught a few ZZZs. We woke up to Jesus shaking his head over us. “Could you not stay awake one hour?” Had it been an hour already?! That happened two more times. Three hours Jesus spent praying!

No, we couldn’t stay awake. We couldn’t watch and pray. We missed the glimpses of God and of God’s Kingdom tonight. Because none of what happened next seemed related to the Kingdom; it just seemed so dark.

Jesus abruptly ended when Judas showed up—where had he been, anyway? And he wasn’t alone. He kissed Jesus which set off a chain of events. There was shouting and scuffling and accusations. Was the revolt beginning? Or something else?

As they started to remove Jesus some women started screaming and some men fought back. And there was talk: “Well, he must have done something otherwise the authorities wouldn’t be doing this.”

We looked around at the lanterns and torches, at the swords and clubs, at the religious officers and Roman military contingent and got really afraid. “This thing is going sideways,” we said and we didn’t know what to do. 

Should we stay and get arrested? Wait for God to do something? Retreat and regroup? Or should we run for our lives?

It was the middle of the night! Darkness was all around. Injustice was winning. And we were powerless. So we fled. We totally took off in every direction—each man for himself, and the women, too. What else could we do? It was so dark. And we were so tired. 

So here we are, huddled in small bands. Peter was here but he took off towards the palace of the High Priest. Earlier Jesus told Peter, “Before the dawn is announced you will deny knowing me.” Dawn is about to break. I can hear the roosters crowing. 

Supposedly God has been working already in this day, in the darkness while we slept. Now our work is supposed to begin. I cannot predict what this Friday holds. But Jesus saw it coming, and even though the trial ahead appears like it’s going to be a hard one, he seemed to be at peace with it. Must be all that prayer.Strange—the dawn is breaking but it still feels pretty dark and I’m still so tired. But we disciples have work to do. Each sunrise calls us to a new day.

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