Monday April 20, 2020
When the Answer is No
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.
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.”
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.”
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!”
It’s hard to let go of how things used to be. It hasn’t even been a month since we cancelled large gatherings and began to socially distance ourselves, yet, I know for many of you, the weight and the heaviness of this time has made it seem like we’ve been living this way for so much longer than we have. We don’t want to let go of how things were. Some of us are afraid of what permanent changes may result from all of this going forward. We have grown impatient with this time that we’re in. It’s not ok that we can’t visit our grandparents in assisted living or celebrate the birth of our friend’s newborn baby at the hospital or go over to mom and dad’s for a big family cookout or do so many of the other things are hearts long for. To pour out our love for our families, friends, and communities. This is a time we have not experienced before and it’s disorienting. Our days are numbered.
The disciples are seeing something they have never seen before. Confident they will never disown Jesus, the surety of their pride and strength quickly wanes. This is not a time they are ready for. Something is happening. They have never seen their Lord this way. The time for teaching is over. There are no more parables. He isn’t boldly healing and proclaiming the Kingdom of God has come near. Right here, right now, this is where it becomes hard for us to understand. Like the disciples, we have no idea what this must have felt like. Even in this time of isolation, where you have felt alone, abandoned, fearful, and anxious. None of us have experienced the depth of sorrow and agony as Jesus. The sorrow he experiences is overwhelming to the point that he feels like he’s close to death before he’s ever touched with a club or whip. The agony of what he must have felt is beyond anything we can ever imagine. So much darker than our collective nightmares. And Jesus asks for two things. He’s asking the Father if there is another way. Is there any other way? Yet not my will but yours be done. And he’s asking his disciples for help. Those you left their lives to follow. From those closest to him, Jesus asks that they keep watch and pray.
In both cases, the answer is no. The Father said no and the disciples said no…to Jesus…the firstborn before all creation, the Son of the living God. To him here in dark Gethsemane the answer was no. Sometimes God’s answer is no. We wait and we ask and we search and wonder why God has not answered our prayers when he has answered us. His answer was no. Sometimes, his answer is no. And that no is motivated by his love for us. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. That is God’s posture toward us even when his answer is no. When the answer is no, do you still trust him? Do you still believe his ways are higher? Do you still believe his perfect love is available and reaching out to you when the answer is no? When the answer is no, will you stay faithful and obedient to God? Will you remain faithful and praise God when the circumstances of your life are not as good as they used to be? Or, will you fall asleep?
Prayer for Today
Holy God, we trust you even when the answer is no. You know the plans you have for us and they are better than we could ever hope for. Through all of our questions and doubts and frustrations, keep us steadfast in pursuing you. You are our Rock and our Redeemer. We offer you all of our life today. Show us your grace. Amen
The First 15
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