Day 70: “Watch and Pray”

Text: Mark 14:26-42
Event(s): Jesus predicts Peter’s denial; Jesus prays in Gethsemane 

Mark 14:29Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be.” Peter refused to allow the possibility that he would forsake Jesus. But humility allows us to recognize what we are susceptible to and capable of. Yet, we can take that awareness and place it in the hands of a God whom we trust. Our confidence then, does not reside in our own ability, but in God’s empowering grace within us to keep us. As 1 Corinthians 10:12 reminds us, “Therefore let the one who thinks he stands firm [immune to temptation, being overconfident and self-righteous], take care that he does not fall [into sin and condemnation].

Mark 14:32 “Sit here while I pray.” Luke’s account of this event mentions an angel who appeared and strengthened Jesus while He prayed. It’s assumed that Luke recorded this to help his readers realize the supernatural strength that praying brings. However, the angel’s presence did not remove the “agony” that Jesus felt as He prayed.

Mark 14:33 “He became troubled and deeply distressed.” This verse speaks very clearly to Jesus’ humanity. His soul (mind, will & emotions) were deeply affected, knowing what He would endure. I took the liberty of including an excerpt here from a commentary, the Translator’s Handbook on Mark:

The words “distressed” (Gr. ekthambeisthai) and “troubled” (Gr. ademonein) together “describe an extremely acute emotion, a compound of bewilderment, fear, uncertainty and anxiety, nowhere else portrayed in such vivid terms as here.” The prospect of bearing God’s wrath for the world’s sins and experiencing separation from His Father grieved Jesus deeply (Gr. perilypos, cf. 6:26). This was much more than any mere martyr has ever had to endure.

Mark 14:36Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” Jesus’ human will was distinct from the Father’s will, but never opposed to it. We can always be honest with God in prayer. “Lord, here’s my perspective, here’s what I see. But it is Your will that must be done because You see things I don’t; You know things I can’t.” This is an excellent model prayer when we do not know the will of God specifically. We can request our preference, as Jesus did, and sometimes our personal preference may be in alignment with God’s will. But ultimately, we should also submit our preferences to the will of God, whatever that may be.

Mark 14:38Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Watch and pray. These activities are both necessary to overcome temptation. The contrast between “the flesh” and “the spirit” is not between the sinful human nature and the Holy Spirit, but between man’s volitional strength and his physical weakness. We often want to do the right thing but find that we need supernatural assistance to accomplish it.

Today’s Takeaway: Today’s passage was quite short, compared to what we’ve been accustomed to reading. But I believe that really allows us to simplify our takeaway for today: Prayer and submitting our will to the will of the Father. I’m stirred today to consider everything I’ve been praying about and for, and to make sure that above all I acknowledge and verbalize that it is His will I want. Nevertheless, not my will, but Yours be done.

Additional (optional) reading: Parallel accounts of the events in today’s passage may be found in Matthew 26:31-46, Luke 22:31-34, Luke 22:40-46 and John 13:21-28 and 18:1