They Fled

43 Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.

44 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” 45 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46 The men seized Jesus and arrested him. 47 Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

48 “Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” 50 Then everyone deserted him and fled. Mark 13:43-50

It must have completely shocked the remaining 11 disciples that Judas was the betrayer. Confused and befuddled, they fled. They were outnumbered and overpowered, or so they thought. You can’t blame them for fleeing because, well, what could they do against such a powerful opponent? That’s the argument I could hear 2000 years removed, even as they were fleeing.

Where were they going? What was their end game? When Jesus needed them the most, the ran. Later, we’ll see an infinitely greater turning away, when the Father turns His face from Jesus, but His students, his best friends in the entire world fled like scared chickens. A part of me wants to think that even as they were fleeing, they knew they needed to stay but they couldn’t help themselves. The thing is, they all fled. Not one of them had a “check” in their spirit that running was the absolute worst thing they could do.

We’d flee too if we saw in the physical realm what they were up against. would we be the hero to remain with the master in His time of need? I don’t think so. I’ve said this many times, we are just like the disciples, except that they walked and talked with Jesus every day for three years. They hold a unique place in history. He chose them because they were normal, just like you and me. There was nothing special about them…or us.

So, where does that leave us? It leaves us one day closer to His return and another day we get to know Him better before that return.

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A Lifelong Pursuit

37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

39 Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.

41 Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” Mark 13:37-42

How could they?

How could these disciples fall asleep at the most important time in their Savior’s live on earth, especially after He explicitly told them repeatedly not to?

They were tired. Whether physically, emotionally, or even spiritually, they were tired. They obviously didn’t understand the dire situation Jesus was in. Of course they didn’t know what to say to Him. They blew it. Even a “we’re sorry” would not cut it this time.

And yet, it had to be this way. All of these things had to happen to “pave” the road to the cross. Still, they blew it and knew it.

So do we. Every day. Just as they knew the right thing to do but didn’t do it, so do we. Call it sin nature, prone to sin, prone to wander, penchant for evil, yielding to temptation, what have you, we still don’t do the right things even when we know what the right things are.

But we press on. We repent and move on. We pray God gives us the strength to resist next time, and He will when we ask and stay close to Him. Too often, though, we move away from the safe and secure spot we enjoy.

Then again, we lean on Him for more strength. That’s the key. Leaning in, early and often. Enjoying His presence. Recognizing His presence. Remembering what His presence feels like. Remembering what peace we experience in His presence.

That’s where we want to be. And stay. It is a lifelong pursuit.

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Agony in the Garden

35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 13:35-36

These two verses are perhaps the most underrated and understated in all of Scripture. Here was the Son of God pleading with the Father to “take this cup” from Him, but yielding to God the Father’s will. In other books of the Gospel, there’s more detail about sweating drops of blood. We can sense the agony, pain, and determination with this prayer. I doubt it was this short of a prayer, and we can’t see the tears or sweat as He prayed them, but they were there.

It was at this point that there would be no turning back. Even though He had been telling His disciples about the upcoming events all along, this was the point of no return for Jesus. Had there been any other way, He would have chosen it.

This was the moment of truth, the moment that would haunt the devil and his angels for eternity. Even as the events leading up to the cross were painful and traumatic, satan knew he was defeated.

That is one glorious statement, satan was defeated. He was defeated in the garden of Gethsemane, he was defeated on the cross and in the tomb, and he was defeated in the resurrection.

Glory, Hallelujah. That agony was ultimately our victory.

The world will never be the same.

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Spiritual Prepping

32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” Mark 13:32-34

Jesus’ command to keep watch was one He’s said before. It’s not a passive watch but a vigilant one. Yes, they were to watch for those who would come to arrest Jesus but it was more than that. This would be the beginning of their ministry with Him and they were to be alert for what was to come. Many dangers and pitfalls awaited them. They had to be spiritually alert so they didn’t fall into any trap that their enemies and the evil one had in store for them.

This is also a warning for us as well. Though our enemies probably won’t come to arrest us (as Jesus’ enemies did), they are out there as sure as I write this. The enemy hates us and will do everything within his power to demobilize and destroy us.

Our vigilance through prayer and Scripture reading and memorization is critical for our survival. We live in very uncertain times. While many are “prepping” for the Great Reset, we probably should focus more on our spiritual lives.

What are you doing, if anything, for the spiritual battles that lie ahead?

Taking small steps today to form spiritual habits will reap great rewards when the time comes.

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Peter Wanted to Do the Right Thing

27 “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written:

“‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.’

28 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

29 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.””

30 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”

31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same. Mark 13:27-31

What a shocking prediction that must have been for Peter. Peter and the rest wanted to do the right thing but we all know the ending to this story.

History tells us that Peter did die a martyr for Christ some years later, but before then came many years of church leadership, hardship, and uncertainty. That was the case for the remaining 12, except for one (and Judas).

What the disciples really wanted and what actually happened were two very different things. Nobody wants to believe that you would betray your best friend, especially after eating, sleeping, and fellowshipping with them for three years. They had “battle scars” together. They – to use a modern cliche – did life together in the best of ways.

Don’t fault Peter or the other disciples for what they did or were about to do. They were afraid, confused, and seemingly all alone. But as we’ve pointed out so many times before, the Holy Spirit was able to guide them into all things. They certainly needed that guidance, as do we.

What kinds of doubt and trouble are you facing today? Perhaps you think nobody understands what you’re going through and you’re going through it all alone.

Fear not, Brothers and Sisters, call on God early and often. Don’t make Him the last resort. Go to Him first.

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