March 08, 2014


Mark 13:34-37; 14:41

Returning the third time, [Jesus] said to them, “Are you still sleeping … ?”
—Mark 14:41


Telling his disciples about his eventual return at the end of the world, Jesus instructs his followers to keep watch. Like the servants in that illustration, they must watch and be ready for their master’s return.

In Gethsemane, during the long night of sorrow that over-whelmed his soul, Jesus told his disciples again to keep alert and watchful. But they fell asleep and failed to identify with Jesus in his suffering.

The disciples were not ready for Jesus’ suffering. They paraded their commitment to him, but Jesus revealed that all of them would flee. They fell asleep instead of keeping watch for him while he prayed. And they all abandoned him during his trial and crucifixion.

Like the disciples, we are often ready to receive applause and reward but not to stand with Jesus when the going gets rough. We crave a cup of blessing but not the cup of sorrow. We imagine a crown of glory, not a crown of thorns. We demand a full night’s sleep, not a vigil of anguishing prayer to discover God’s will. We fail to anticipate that we can grow to know Jesus in our anguish, struggles, and failures.

Mark’s gospel is not easy reading. Each episode presents a challenge. But every convicting challenge and call to commitment is matched by a grace sufficient for the task. Jesus leads the way through suffering and struggle, and we must follow.

Thank you, Lord, for not sleeping when we needed you to win the victory for our salvation. Keep us awake to your will. Amen.

About the author — Dean Deppe

Dean Deppe has been a pastor in inner-city, suburban, and rural ­churches. Currently he teaches New Testament theology at Calvin Theological Seminary. His courses include one on the parables of Jesus. He and his wife have four grown children.

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