Mark 14:32-42

Sunday Morning Bible Study

July 24, 2005


Have you seen the bumper sticker that reads: “Lead me not into temptation (I can find the way myself)”

A little boy always went next door to play even though his mom had warned him against doing so. This worried the mom so badly that she asked him why he was so disobedient. He replied that Satan tempted him so bad and he did not know what to do. The mom then advised him to say ‘get thee behind me Satan’ whenever he was tempted. She then built a fence around the house. This worked for a week, then one sunny afternoon the mom looked over the window and there was her son playing on the neighbor’s lawn having cut a hole in the fence. “John”, she yelled, “Come here!” She then said “did I not tell you to say ‘get thee behind me Satan’ whenever he tempted you?” “Yes”, the boy replied, “I said, ‘get thee behind me Satan’, then he went behind me and pushed me through the hole in the fence.”

We’re going to be looking at the subject of temptation this morning.

:32 Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, "Sit here while I pray."

Gethsemane – “oil press”; located in the olive orchard on the Mount of Olives.

The whole group is supposed to stay in one spot while Jesus goes and prays.

:33 And He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be troubled and deeply distressed.

began – Even though Jesus had known all along what was up ahead, at this point it seems as if the horror of the cross descends upon Jesus.

to be troubledekthambeo (“out of” + “immovable”) – to throw into terror or amazement

deeply distressedademoneo – to be troubled, great distress or anguish, depressed; There are three Greek words in the NT for depression, this one is the strongest.

:34 Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death.

exceedingly sorrowfulperilupos – surrounded with sorrow

Jesus asks the guys to do just two things. He wants them to stay put and to keep their eyes open. We’ll see at the end of the passage that Jesus is also expecting them to pray as well.


Man of sorrows

We might be tempted to think that what Jesus did for us was a piece of cake for Him. The writer of Hebrews tells us how we can endure difficult times …
(Heb 12:2 NKJV) …looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

We see that phrase, “for the joy” and can think that it was easy for Jesus.  But what Jesus faced was nowhere near “fun”. As He faced the cross, He was struggling to do what He needed to do.

Here was the Son of God who had always enjoyed sweet, intimate fellowship with the Father. He had been tempted in His life, but He never had tasted the shame and guilt of having committed sin.
He knew that He was not only going to face extreme pain in being scourged and crucified, but He was also going to experience the darkness and weight from the guilt and shame of every one of my sins, your sins, and the world’s sins being laid upon Him. He was going to experience for the first time being separated and forsaken by God.
This was not something Jesus was looking forward to.
He understands sorrow. He understands heaviness of soul. He understands depression.
(Isa 53:3 NKJV) He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
He understands our sorrows as well.
(Heb 4:15-16 NKJV) For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. {16} Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

If you are struggling with a time of sorrow and despondency, Jesus not only understands, but He can help you as well.

What can you do if you’re depressed? Pay attention to what Jesus does.

:34 …Stay here and watch."


He had companions

Jesus wasn’t alone. He didn’t want to be alone. He wanted His friends to be near.
Sometimes when we’re depressed or scared we run and hide from people. But I wonder if we couldn’t learn something from Jesus. It seems He wanted His disciples near by.
There’s a commercial on television for the Angels baseball team. In the commercial, as the radio announcer talks about the Angels being behind, it shows people all around town in various jobs. One by one they take the various hats they’re wearing and they turn the hats inside out. It’s kind of like their way of all joining together to make a statement that they’re rooting for the Angels. And then the announcer says, “Because we’re all in this together”.
Wouldn’t that be cool if we could in a way turn our hats inside out for each other when we’re struggling?
(Heb 10:24-25 NLT) Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds. {25} And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.

:35 He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him.

:36 And He said, "Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will."

AbbaAbba – an Aramaic word for “father”; it’s a term of affection, much like our “daddy”. This was not the way that Jewish people were taught to pray because they thought it was inappropriate to call God their “daddy”. Yet this is how Jesus prayed and this is how God wants us to pray.

(Gal 4:6 NKJV) And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!"

possibledunatos – able, powerful, mighty, strong

Jesus went to pray that “if it were possible” … (vs. 35)

Now He acknowledges that all things are indeed possible with God. God is able and strong enough to do anything.

Takeparaphero – to remove; the verb is an imperative. He is asking, even ordering, the Father to remove the cross.

willthelo – (not what I … ) have in mind, intend; to purpose; to desire, to wish; to love; be fond of doing; to take delight in

His prayer had two elements to it.


All things are possible with God

When we come to prayer, it’s important to remember who we’re talking to.
There is nothing too difficult for God. Jeremiah prayed:
(Jer 32:17 KJV) Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:
When David faced the giant Goliath, but he knew he wasn’t alone.
(1 Sam 17:45 NKJV) Then David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.
When Jehoshaphat faced a fearful coalition of his enemies’ armies, he prayed,
(2 Chr 20:6 NKJV) …"O LORD God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You?
The size of your problem is only as scary as the size of your God. The smaller your God, the more you will worry. But when you realize how big God is, maybe that problem isn’t all that big after all.


Whose will?

If we could just learn to pray for the things that God wants, we’d have all our prayers answered.
(1 John 5:14-15 NKJV) Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. {15} And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

When Jesus said, “Take this cup away from Me”, was He asking according to the Father’s will? No. Jesus was expressing His own will, and that’s okay. That’s part of what the process of prayer is all about, sorting out my will from God’s will.

What was God’s will?

It was God’s will that Jesus die on the cross.  He was supposed to be a sacrifice to pay for our sins.

He paid a debt He didn’t owe because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay. Heaven isn’t filled with people that are “good enough” to be there.  Heaven is filled with sinners who have found forgiveness by trusting in Jesus.


I was shocked, confused, bewildered as I entered Heaven’s door,

Not by the beauty of it all, by the lights or its decor.

But it was the folks in Heaven who made me sputter and gasp—

The thieves, the liars, the sinners, the alcoholics, the trash.

There stood the kid from seventh grade who swiped my lunch money twice.

Next to him was my old neighbor who never said anything nice.

Herb, who I always thought was rotting away in hell,

Was sitting pretty on cloud nine, looking incredibly well.

I nudged Jesus, “What’s the deal? I would love to hear Your take.

How’d all these sinners get up here? God must’ve made a mistake.

And why’s everyone so quiet, so somber? Give me a clue.”

“Hush, child,” said He. “They’re all in shock. No one thought that they’d see you.”

We need to yield to God’s will.
When Jesus taught the disciples how to pray, He gave them this example:

(Mat 6:9-10 NKJV) "In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. {10} Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.

Peace comes when I yield to His will.
Victory comes when I learn to surrender.
Paul had been struggling with something difficult in his life.  He prayed and asked God to take this thing away.

(2 Cor 12:8-9 NKJV)  Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. {9} And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Paul got to the place where he was able to surrender to God’s will.

How God will answer my prayer:
Yes – if I am asking according to God’s will, He will grant my request.
No – He is God. He can say “no”.  And that’s okay.

Sometimes you are asking for the right thing, but it’s not the right time.

What you are asking for is good, but God doesn’t want a “good” time to answer the prayer, He wants the best. Some prayers are like a quick pass to your tight end – boom, straight to the guy, and it’s caught. Some prayers are like a long bomb to your wide receiver – the quarterback tosses the ball way up into the air and it hangs up there so long, you watch as the wide receiver gets to the point where the ball comes down, and the ball is caught.

Sometimes God wants you to learn to persevere in prayer.

I think some answers to prayer require a certain “amount” of prayer. In heaven the prayers of the saints are represented by bowls of incense. I wonder if there are different sizes of bowls. I wonder if some prayers require ten pounds of incense while others only require a pinch. However you look at it, if God hasn’t said “no” to you, then God wants you to learn to persevere in prayer, keep praying.

:37 Then He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour?

Why does Jesus address Peter?

Remember how earlier in the evening that Jesus warned the disciples that they were going to deny Him? Peter had stated so strongly that he would never, ever deny Jesus. He had said he was even willing to die with Jesus. (Mark 14:29-31)

I wonder if this isn’t a bit of a gentle rebuke to the one who was so confident that he was not going to deny Jesus.

:38 "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

watchgregoreuo – to watch; give strict attention to, be cautious, active

spiritpneuma – Jesus is talking about Peter’s own human spirit. Jesus knows that Peter wants to do what is right but …

fleshsarx – man’s “sin nature”, his tendency to do what is opposed to God.


That reminds me of a story …

From time to time an angel had been spotted at an old house outside of town. Over the years many rumors had circulated about the whys and whatnots of this particular phenomena. Finally a photographer decided he would go and take pictures of the house and the angel that lived there. Upon arriving, the angel actually greeted him at the door, and upon welcoming him in, told the man that he would be more than pleased to pose for some pictures. The photographer, extremely grateful for the opportunity, readied his camera and began taking many pictures, however his flash did not seem to be operating well. He finished the session and upon thanking the angel returned home to develop the pictures. Upon doing so he found the picture were all grossly under or over exposed and he fell to his hands and knees weeping saying, “The spirit was willing, but the flash was weak.”


The weakness of our flesh

Paul wrote,
(Rom 7:15-19 NKJV) For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. {16} If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. {17} But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. {18} For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. {19} For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.
How many of us are familiar with these verses?

And yet we continue to have struggles with our flesh. We still continue to sin. This is a hard lesson to learn.

Even though we fail so often, we have this idea that we can still pull off obeying Jesus on our own strength.

The answer to our flesh is to learn to completely depend on Jesus and not on our flesh.

(John 15:5 NKJV) "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

:39 Again He went away and prayed, and spoke the same words.

Again Jesus prays what He prayed in verse 36.

:40 And when He returned, He found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy; and they did not know what to answer Him.

He caught them sleeping again. They didn’t know what to say.

:41 Then He came the third time and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough! The hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.

Jesus went back to pray, and when He comes back, He finds them sleeping.

Some teach that it shows a lack of faith to pray for something more than once. It seems that Jesus didn’t follow that silly rule.

:42 "Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand."

The time to be prepared with prayer is over. The moment for trouble has come.

Jesus wakes up the disciples because it’s time for Him to be betrayed and arrested.

What did Jesus do when He was overwhelmed? What did He do when He was surprised with despondency? He prayed. What did Jesus encourage the disciples to do in order to prepare themselves for what lay ahead? He told them to watch and pray (vs. 38).


Prayer and temptation

Jesus was trying to teach the disciples that one of the best things they could do in regards to temptation was to be “watching and praying”.
They needed to have their eyes open – that’s “watching”.
But they also needed to be praying.
The biggest work for Jesus was still ahead, on the cross.
But before the great work, there was the battle in prayer.
The real battles are won first in the prayer closet before you get to the battle field.
Chuck Smith:
“You can do more than pray after you’ve prayed, but you really can’t do any more for God than pray, until you have prayed. You can’t really do any real work or service for God apart from prayer.”
I was reading this morning about King Rehoboam, the son of King Solomon. When Rehoboam became king, he was faced with a difficult decision – in a sense a “temptation” or a “trial”.  The people wanted Rehoboam to lighten up on the workload that his father had forced on the people.  Rehoboam didn’t know what to do, so he decided to ask for advice.  He asked advice from the old men who had served his father – they told him to lighten up.  Then he asked advice from the guys his own age – and they told him to get tougher.  In the end, he went with the advice from his younger friends, and the kingdom of Israel split into two kingdoms.
I usually look at this and think that this is a lesson about learning to respect the advice of your elders.  But it hit me this morning – there’s one person who Rehoboam did not ask for advice.  He didn’t ask God.  When Rehoboam’s grandfather David needed advice, he asked God.
Jesus taught us to pray,
(Mat 6:13 NKJV)  And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one…

I wonder how many temptations we could simply avoid if we prayed more?

Some things we’re not going to be able to avoid – but I wonder how many of those tests we could have passed easier if we had learned to pray more?