Summary: This is part II in the series 24. It is a first person narrative from the perspective of Mark. The preaching idea: Prayer isn’t always a garden of serenity; sometimes it’s a wrestling mat.
In case you weren’t with us last week, we’ve begun a brand new series of sermons entitled 24, based on the last 24 hours of Jesus Christ. What makes this particular series of sermons so unique is that I will be sharing from the perspective of characters present during the events. These story-like sermons will hopefully be both inspiring and educational as we move toward the cross during this season of Lent.
Today’s story will draw both from the Scripture passage we are about to read along with tradition and speculation. In particular a tradition has existed for many centuries that gives an identity to a character in today’s story who is not identified within the passage and ties that character together very closely with our story from last week. In addition to that tradition I will be drawing from both my own speculation along with that of historians and commentators as to how the events of the night may have unfolded and in particular how it is that we have the words of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane when his disciples were supposed to have been asleep while he was speaking them. Please keep in mind that the majority of what I will share with you this morning is either Biblically or historically accurate. There are only a few bridges which have needed to be built in order to bring the story to life.
Would you now turn with me in your Bibles to Mark 14:27-52 for our reading from the Word of God…
Let us pray…
God we cry for out for the lives of the eight teenagers and twelve others across the south that were taken in the storms that hit the south last week. Surely it pains our hearts to see people suffer such as this. Why did you allow that tornado to hit that high school head on? Sometimes we wonder if you care at all. We know you love us, but why is it that at times you seem to be silent?
Why did you make such storms? Did we cause the weather that separated families permanently and snuffed out young lives?
We know our understanding is limited, and we know you have the truth, and who can we turn to but you? But we can’t help but wonder why you allow such things to happen? Forgive us for our questioning – we question because we love you and we’re looking for an explanation for the terrible things that happened. Amen.
While all of us sympathize with the pain that is being experienced this morning by the family members of those high school students who were killed, the fact is, a prayer such as this makes most of us uncomfortable. Such a prayer is a bit too audacious. Perhaps a little too bold for our liking. We’re much more comfortable with prayers that are characterized by timidity. “God,” we pray, “if it’s your will, and we understand if it’s not, if you wouldn’t mind, and please don’t be offended by our asking, would you give us this day our daily bread.” We like to leave a means of escape for ourselves and for God (as if he needs it). We like to leave a way out, a back door if you will, ultimately because when it comes down to it we’re either afraid that God won’t answer our prayers or we really don’t believe in prayer.