Levi Lusko - Something to Cry About
We are in this series, this is week two, "The Way of Suffering," and we're seeking to harmonize what the four Gospels have to say about Jesus's passion week, about Jesus's deliberate way of suffering, how He approached His suffering. And we're learning how to figure out what He wants for us when we go through hardships, when we go through trials. And we come this week, week two, to Mark chapter 14. Title of my message is "Something to Cry About". Something to cry about. When does the dad gene engage? When does the mom gene engage? I don't know. Is it at conception? Is it when you actually hold your baby in your arms? When you see the ultrasound for the first time, or hear the heartbeat? But at some point, surely, a gene has to snap into place that causes you to do and say all the things you wish your parents had not done or said, right? What is this?
Even as they come out of your mouth, right, some inner version of your childhood version of you is standing there with his arms crossed with her arms crossed, and you're like, really, you're going to tell me I make a better door than a window, right? This is the stuff that comes out of our mouth. Like, I am physically unable to hold a stud finder in my hands without cracking a joke about how this thing always goes off the moment I touch it, right? That's a dad gene, I'm telling you. Right, all those things our parents said to us we swore we would never say. One more peep out of you, I'll turn this car around. Don't make me pull this car right over on the side of this road, right? All these things. How about, when I was your age? Anything that begins with "when I was your age," right? Or when your child annoyingly says, "Why"? There's only one response to that, every parent knows, because I said so. Who pays the bills around here?
You look at the thermostat with outrage. It's like all the things that you just have to say because you're a parent. And I think perhaps the most horrified I've ever been is when I found coming out, I saw it was like slow motion coming out of my mouth, stop your crying, Lennox, or I'll, yeah, some of you are horrified, right, at my parenting skills, give you something to cry about. Now, just context-wise, I gave him a warning and not discipline, but he kept crying annoyingly anyway. What do you want? You got off the hook. You want actual discipline here?
Give you something, something to cry about. This generation does have something to cry about. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week published the results of a nationwide study of young people in the country and concluded there is a cry for help that is being raised up in the numbers. Four out of 10 high schoolers, teenagers, in this country say they would describe themselves as "persistently sad" or "hopeless". That's almost half. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is saying there is a mental health crisis that is in this report. To think of half of those under 18 in our country saying, how would you describe yourself? "Persistently sad" and "hopeless," with one out of five, or 20%, saying they had contemplated taking their lives. Think of that. Five teenagers in front of you, that one of them has thought of taking their lives. That half of them say "persistently sad, hopeless".
And as we hear such things, as we read such things, our hearts should be filled, not only with sorrow, of course, and empathy, but also a sense that we have been called to be a part of helping and changing that. Because let me just tell you, culture does not know and does not have the tools to help with that. Let's have the conversation. But at the end of the day, if there is no God, if there is no Heaven, if there is no hope, then how can we tell someone to not view life as hopeless? If there is no hereafter, if there is no life after death, if there is no meaning, if we are just smart mud and there's no designer and there's no point, and if death is just blackness, how can we actually tell someone to not feel what they should feel if what they are being told is, in fact, the truth? Only in Christ can we find hope. Only in Christ can we find true meaning. Only in Christ do we find the promise of peace of life after death.
And so we're not just going to say, let's talk about the problem. Just tell us if you're having a bad day. We're going to say we're going to point you to Jesus, who can be a bedrock, who can be a solid rock to stand on. And we're going to call out this generation to know their worth in Christ, to know God's plans for them. And with that in mind that we approach Mark 14, as we see Jesus crying out in pain and in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. Mark's Gospel is one of my absolute favorites. I would probably say John is my all-time favorite Gospel, but Mark is probably my second favorite.
A few things to note about Mark's Gospel, and those of you who have been with us on this "Way of Suffering" journey, you've been reading Mark all week, and we're taking one of the texts and we're focusing in, honing in on it. We'll take Luke's text all next week and be reading them, so you could do that on your own. You could read all of what Luke has to say about Jesus' journey to the cross, and then we'll conclude with John. But Mark's kind of unique because he's the first Gospel to commit his story to page, the oldest of the four Gospels, and he's also by far the shortest of the Gospels. And that is because Mark wrote with a Roman in mind. He wrote, of course it can be read by all, but he wrote thinking about how the Roman person would receive this. His goal was to help a Roman person come to know that Jesus is the Son of God.
And so what he left out is as significant as what he included. Namely, he left out most of Jesus's sermons. Last week, we talked about Matthew and we had a message called "It's Later Than You Think," about how Jesus is coming again. And that should motivate us and that should give us purpose and that should give us a sober mind, in the right kind of way. If you missed that message you can find it on YouTube or find it on Spotify. But it was from what's called the Olivet Discourse, one of five messages Jesus gave, the first being the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5, the last being the sermon He gave on the Mount of Olives. And He had a lot of teaching blocks, and Matthew is always pointing back to what David said and what Isaiah said. And he was trying to show a Jewish person how Jesus is the long-awaited Jewish Messiah.
Well, Mark knew that the Romans didn't care much about some Old Testament literature, and so he didn't bother with that. And he also didn't utilize a lot of the sermons because the Romans respected power. The Romans respected action, the might of the Roman army and the ability of what a man can do with his hands. It's interesting that it is the only of the four Gospels to actually specifically tell us that Jesus was a carpenter, Mark chapter 6, verse 3, because he knew that would help a Roman person realize, hey, Jesus, worked with His hands. I can relate to Jesus. He also didn't include almost any quotations from the Old Testament, and his favorite phrase, if you read Mark's Gospel, you're going to find it, you could circle it when you find it, is the two words "and then".
All throughout Mark he's like, and then, and then, and then He did this, and then He did this miracle, and then. It's just over and over again. He's called the "and then" Gospel, which makes him perfect for an ADD generation, who's easily distracted by shiny and bright things, squirrel, right? We can focus in because Jesus is always moving. It's very explosive, it's very dynamic, and there's a little Easter egg at the end. The last person that Mark quotes from, who speaks in Mark's Gospel, is the Centurion who is in charge of the soldiers the day Jesus was crucified. Because you remember as Jesus died, He breathed out with a loud voice, committed His soul into the Father's hands. Spoiler alert, two weeks from now we're going to get there. But when that happened, there was an earthquake and all kinds of different things happened, and the Centurion who was in charge of crucifying Jesus cried out, "Truly this man was righteous. Truly He was the Son of God". So he has as the last detail he gives intentionally a Roman person giving his heart to Jesus, because from the beginning that was his intent. Come on, how cool is that? That just shows where he was moving towards, and we're going to read what he has to say about Jesus's time praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.
We're going to read verse 26 and then we'll pick it up at verse 32-42. And verse 26, he says, "And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane, and He said to His disciples, 'Sit here while I pray.' And He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be troubled and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, 'My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.' He went a little farther, and He fell on the ground, and He prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. 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.' Then He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, 'Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.' And He went away and prayed, and spoke the same words", to His Father. "And when He returned, He found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy, and they did not know what to answer Him. 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. Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.'"
And, Father, all at once we're aware of the fact that we are on holy ground, and there is a mystery to what took place here. And to see Your Son so pitiful, to see Your Son struggling, it causes us to just quiet our hearts, and with a reverence and with what we pray would be a holy hush that would be sensed by all of us here. I pray that what we're seeing we would take note of and be marked by. And I ask, Jesus, that You would help us to live out of the power of what You participated in, Jesus, here in this exchange with Your Father. And we thank You that You've opened up to us a relationship with our Father because of it. We are grateful for Your sacrifice that has purchased for us life. And we ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.
In the Last Supper, Jesus and His disciples ate and drank, foretelling what He would go through on the cross. And of course our text ends with Judas' arrival and whole detachment of soldiers there to arrest Him. But in between was Jesus preparing Himself to do battle, Jesus steeling his nerves, Jesus giving Himself the confidence He would need to go through with this mission. It is significant that He chose to spend His final moments before being arrested by praying. This text shows us what happens when God prays, when Jesus, in His own words, was so sad that He could die. And as we think about what even just I told you about moments ago, young people in this country saying, I feel such sadness, persistent sadness, I feel hopelessness. To see Jesus here saying, I'm literally so sad I feel like I could die.
We find a guy, what do you do when you feel sad? You pray. What do you do when you feel hopeless? Do what Jesus did when He was so troubled He thought He could die. He lifted His eyes to the Father. That is what prayer is for. Prayers take our hopelessness, our sorrow, our weakness, and to give it to God. So we're going to examine Jesus' prayer here. And I wrote down five different things that are significant. First of all, where He prayed. Where He prayed is significant. The text tells us He took His disciples to a place called Gethsemane. Place is significant. Location, it matters. If you're making a movie, where is it set? Where does it take place? You're making a play. What backdrops do we need? Place matters. Your place matters. Your city is significant. God cares for Buffalo. He cares for Des Moines. He cares for Springfield, Albuquerque, El Paso, and Billings. Your place matters.
Your city, it matters to God, but it also matters to the devil. The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. That's why he's coming after the next generation. But Jesus has come to give them life, and life more abundantly, and place matters. The devil assigns different demons based on the importance of different places. There are certain places that are strongholds. Ephesians tells us that there's different rankings of demons, and there's different significant ones that are assigned to different cities. When you read the Bible, you read about different battles happening for Persia versus this place, and so God sends different angels to different places to do work in different places.
So place matters is all I'm trying to get you to see. Your work is a place, and that place matters. It should matter to you because it matters to God. You could park in your parking lot at your staff parking lot every day and say, I'm here reporting for duty. I'm here to shine light. I'm here to make a difference. This place matters. It matters to the devil. He wants it to be a place of darkness, a place of sin, a place of despair, a place of cynicism. But you know what, I'm here in this place to shine that bright light, to bring that life and life more abundantly that God wants me to bring. Place matters. Where you go, who you choose to do, what you choose to spend, place is significant. Jesus has this moment where He's going to be arrested. This moment, all of history, has moved towards, all of prophecy have moved toward where are you going to choose to get arrested? I'm going to do it in the Garden of Gethsemane. I'm going to do it after I spent some time on my knees.
Place matters. Jesus had this showdown go down at a garden. I find three very interesting things about the place, the Garden of Gethsemane. The first thing I find that's interesting about it is the fact that it is a place of familiarity. The other Gospel accounts tell us Jesus often went there. In fact, John's Gospel, the 18th chapter, the second verse, tells us that Judas knew he could bring the soldiers there because there was a reasonably good chance that Jesus was going to be there, because Him and the disciples often would hang out there, often would go there. That is to say that Jesus didn't just wait until this big moment with the cross looming in tomorrow's, you know, appointment in His calendar, to be the first day He went to pray. He often prayed.
How do you pray when it counts? Answer, you pray when it doesn't. How do you have faith that doesn't falter in the big moments? You have faith that you hone in the little moments. Daniel prayed when if he did so he was going to get thrown into a pit full of lions. But the text tells us that he had been doing so ever since he was a little boy. So don't you ever tell me that it's not going to make a difference to say your prayers as a child, to get into that rhythm, those holy habits, those healthy rhythms of going to church and memorizing the Bible and learning to hide God's word in your heart. These things make a big difference. Jesus and His disciples would often go to this garden, because it was a priority for Jesus to spend time alone with God and to spend time with His friends praying.
So when the disciples, sorry, the disciples of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish leaders, said to Judas, all right, you're going to betray Him. Where can we get Him? He said, I bet you anything He's going to be in that garden, because He loves to spend time with God praying. If I was going to arrest you, where do you like to go? Do you have a familiar place to meet with God? "No, Levi, I pray without ceasing. I pray all the time. I'm always praying". That's amazing. But what about your daily time with God? Do you have a place, is there a chair where you like to sit? Is there a spot where you like to say your prayers? Is there somewhere where you have your Bible sitting there and you have your notebook there and when you go sit down there that's your time to meet with God?
Jesus had that in Jerusalem. He had one in Galilee. He had one where He, He just had these little spots where He would go and meet with God. For you it could be a walking path. It could be a certain place where you go park your car and you go to this little run and you do this little thing. You go sit in this park, you go to the top of this mount. Whatever it is, get your spot where you meet with Jesus. Jesus chose this place because it was familiar to Him. Secondly, this place speaks of generosity. It was only available to Him because someone had a generous spirit. There's a little rule you should know about in this day, the city of Jerusalem, it was illegal to have a garden growing within the city limits. What a weird rule. It was something to do with the manure that it took, and they didn't want that because Jerusalem was the spiritual capital of the city.
The Temple was there. As a result, if you were wealthy, you would have a garden right outside of city limits where your family could go to, where you could rest, where there would be shade, where you can enjoy yourself. And so it was kind of basically like this little private park that would be gated and walled and you would have access to it. Apparently there were a number of them on the Mount of Olives, which was just over the Kidron brook, to get to from the city of Jerusalem, and if you were going and coming from Jerusalem to get to the suburbs, you had to pass through the Mount of Olives. And so this was something that people had. By the way, to this day, if you go to Jerusalem, the Garden of Gethsemane is gated and walled up and locked.
When I went there on the tour schedule, you know, this was years back before I was married, I remember it, the schedule had us going to the Garden of Gethsemane at daytime, and I was like, that's not cool. Nobody wants to go to the Garden of Gethsemane at daytime. And so I got some people together and we went there at night. And it was locked. It was like a padlock, it said Garden of Gethsemane, it was, like, locked. I mean, that is not OK. So we jumped over the fence and we were trespassing for a good reason. We were going to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane by night. And it was beautiful, and you could see the city in the distance.
Can you imagine what Jesus was experiencing there? It was very powerful until it dawned on us, we have a really good chance of getting arrested, by night, in the Garden of Gethsemane. Pastoral credibility leveling up. I mean, this is very good. We got out of there and we never got any trouble. But I think about, how is Jesus here? Because we know He didn't own anything, He didn't own this garden. And the answer is clearly suggested, many commentaries will tell you, it is clear that somebody who owned the garden did what Lazarus did. Hey, Jesus, if You're ever in the area, You can use my garden. We know Mary and Martha and Lazarus had this big house in Bethany, and they had a standing rule, Jesus, You are not AirBNB-ing it when You are in Bethany. You stay with us. Let us make You dinner. Let us set the beds out. You'd be out preaching, doing miracles, doing all this stuff. We want to take care of You because we have a generous spirit and we realize if we support what God's doing through this ministry, we are a part of it in a unique way.
And I love that somebody said, Jesus I know You like the outdoors. I know You like nature. So whenever You're in Jerusalem, I got this private garden. You help yourself to it. The Bible says that the world of the generous person just gets bigger and bigger, but the person who's stingy, your life just gets smaller and smaller. And I don't know about you, but I'm just encouraged by the thought of whoever this person was, we don't know, and we won't know till we get to Heaven, who, like Joseph of Arimathea, said, I have something I've been entrusted with but I don't see it as I'm an owner of it. I see it as I'm a steward of it, and I'm going to answer for God about what I did with my ability to create wealth, with my ability to scale, with my ability to grow a business, and I want to use it to further God's kingdom. I want to use it to bless the heart of God.
Joseph of Arimathea had a really nice grave and he said, you need to borrow my grave? Which is a really aggressive thing to loan somebody, right? You can borrow my grave. And Jesus is like, cool. I just need it for the weekend. And then I'll be in and out, like I wasn't even there, right. And this guy lets Jesus use his garden, so the place speaks of generosity. And I'm praying that God would just continue to bless all of our lives, but we would always have the heart to say, with what I've been given, I want to use it to make a difference around the world. Then, thirdly, where He prayed is significant because of symbolism of a prophetic nature. There's something in the Bible called symbolism, and you see this again and again.
And the Garden of Gethsemane is symbolic. It's symbolic because of what it stands for. The word "Gethsemane" literally means "pressing of olives," or the olive press. And it was as it is to this day, a place full of olive trees. But they also apparently would do the pressing there. To press an olive, have you ever bitten down on an olive and you thought it was pitted already, but there's a pit inside it? And nothing going to ruin your crown like an olive pit, because they are so hard. Unbelievably, olive producers will tell you that more olive oil comes from the pit than from the flesh. But to get it, you got to crush it. And to crush up the pit of an olive that can damage a crown in your mouth, right, it takes a massive stone. And so they would roll a big stone around in a circle and a big trough and it would crush. Of course, on the first passing, you'd crush the pulp, but then the second one as it went would crush those pits. And all the olive oil would run out the bottom.
And so it's significant, in light of what we're reading, that took place there, that Jesus would step foot in a place of the pressing of the olives. It's also interesting to me because as you read the Old Testament, you see King David, who Jesus would be his descendant, also one day weeping on the Mount of Olives, just after being betrayed by someone that he loved. His son Absalom tried to kill him, tried to take the kingdom, and had betrayed him. And as David was forced to flee Jerusalem for his life, he wept on the Mount of Olives, this picture of what was to come. The location is also significant because of how, as I told you, the Mount of Olives is what contains the Garden of Gethsemane. And the Bible tells us that when Jesus Christ returns to this world, He's going to do so on the top of the Mount of Olives. Literally, we can know exactly where He's going to come back.
And so all of this taking place there is beautiful and vivid, especially when you think about the imagery of the garden and how it tells and moves along the whole narrative of the Bible. From beginning to end, this is a book about a garden. In Genesis, God made a garden. He put man inside to live in this garden. And He only had one rule, don't eat from this tree, because this tree, if you eat from it, it will lead to death. Now the end of the Bible, the book of Revelation, has a new Jerusalem coming down, God creating a new heavens and a new earth, and at the center of His new creation is, once again, a garden, where man can once again live in life with access to God's presence, access to God's throne.
And the only reason in between these two gardens we have once again been given access to God is because the Son of David stepped foot weeping, crying out, in a garden called Gethsemane. The only rule the first Adam had was don't eat from the tree or you'll die. Jesus stepped foot in this garden to accept the mission of being nailed to a tree so that we could have life instead of the death that was brought to us because of sin. So that's all just the first of five points. That's where He prayed. The second, we'll move a little faster as we continue to go, why He prayed. Let's consider for a moment why He prayed. And the obvious, of course, is because He was in pain.
As we said a moment ago, He was beginning to feel the pressing, the squeezing, of the vise. Like the precious olive that He is, He was being crushed. This would culminate in His hanging on the cross with His arms stretched out and nails going through His hands and a nail driven through His feet, and Him crying out, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me"? In that moment, the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah chapter 53, verse 6, when God said "The sins and iniquity of us all God has laid upon Him," and He was beginning to feel that. Many theologians believe that God was allowing Him in the garden to have a taste of it so no one could say, well, You got on the cross. There was no way down, but You really didn't want that. Here in the Garden of Gethsemane, He had not been arrested yet. He was not in a jail cell yet. He could get up and over that mountain and be gone and go back to Egypt, where He grew up for a little bit, and bail on this whole thing.
There was still time to do something about it. And God allowed Jesus to experience it, to begin to taste it, to wrestle with it, to feel it. And Jesus cried out. It's stronger than the actual English text that we read about Him just feeling amazed. It speaks of Him almost being stupefied, rendered speechless. To think of tasting hell, to think of tasting wrath poured out, as the book of Revelation says, in a goblet against all unrighteousness. This is what I should experience, what you should experience, every one of us who have ever sinned. Now, if you have never sinned, nothing to do with you. But all those of us who have, all of what justice would cry out for, pour it out against us all, was in that cup. Because He keeps talking about the cup. The cup of God throughout, the cup of God throughout, as He really began to think about, am I really doing this? Am I really going to drink from this cup? Am I really going to experience all of what God should pour out on Levi, and on Jennie, and on Chris, and on John Mark, and on Lisa, and on Susan, and on Kyle, and on Peter, and everybody who's ever lived. Am I really going to take that and say, I volunteer as tribute.
Take me as the whipping boy. Let these go free. I will be like that scapegoat. That phrase that we use in our culture, talk about somebody who's the patsy, it's something from the Old Testament about the sacrificial system. That's where that comes from. You go free. I suffer for you, and I do so voluntarily. This is penal substitutionary atonement, is how theologians would describe what He was considering here, contemplating here while there were still time for Him to hit the "abort" button. In NASA language, this was a go/no go. Am I going to proceed with this plan? And as He began to shoulder the weight of the cross spiritually, emotionally, He began to get so sad, so troubled, so agitated, He said it could literally kill Me on the spot.
That's why He prayed. He prayed because He felt it. But I believe there's another reason. I believe that He prayed because He wanted and He was aware of the fact that He was leaving breadcrumbs for us to follow. He prayed because He, even in His fiery hour of trial, knew that He is our guide, and He wanted, as our guide, to leave us signposts, to leave us trail markers. Because there's nothing like following a bad trail. There's nothing like following a trail and I'm like, why did they put this here? Why? That doesn't make any sense. He wanted a clear guide for us to follow. What should you do when you are sad? What should you do when you feel distressed? What should you do when you're so emotionally overcome it could kill you? You bend your knees and pray. You cast all your cares upon God. He was giving us a picture. He was giving us a template.
My kids and I love, like of course every kid and family does, theme parks and little attractions, especially the ones done by Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney, but our favorite recent ride or attraction has been the one where you get to become an animator. I don't know if you've ever gone to this one in Florida, unless you watch it online, maybe even California. It's called the Animation Academy. They actually bring in an animator who draws a character from a Disney movie and they give you a piece of paper and you get to try and draw it too. But they give you step by step, like draw this circle, then draw this, and make it pretty easy. And so the most recent time we did it, it was you were trying to draw Goofy, and while drawing Goofy, here's what Daisy came up with. Pretty good. Actually, that's Clover's. Yeah, that's really, I can tell it's Goofy. It's clearly, not to be confused with Pluto, who wears no clothing, this is Goofy, who does.
Then Daisy drew, oh, that's very good, Goofy. I don't want to brag, but here's my Goofy. This is what I came up with on that day. I'm just saying, if it doesn't work out for me with preaching, maybe animation. And then my favorite of the day was Lennox's. Lennox drew this. This is Goofy. I mean, I got to tell you, I think the boy has got some talent. I think so. I could totally see it. Nailed it is what he did. It's more of an angry, abstract Goofy, but it's a Goofy. But as we did this, we weren't just trying to have to conjure it up out of nowhere. We had someone to look to. We had a guide. We just had to do what they did. Did you know that's what the book of Hebrews says we have in Christ? Look at Hebrews 4, verse 15, verse 14. "Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but He was in all points tempted as we are, yet", say with me, "without sin".
How can we hold fast our confession? And when do you need to hold fast? Why did sailors of an olden time have "hold fast" tattooed on their knuckles? Because they got into storms, and in storms what do sailors say? We got to hold fast. Hold fast. It's nautical terminology that's employed often in the book of Hebrews. How can we hold fast? Because we have Someone to look to. We have Someone who faced every storm, every trial, every difficulty. We have Someone who sat there in the Garden of Gethsemane, when He could have just said, forget it, I'm out of here. And He held fast, and since He held fast, you can too. You can look to God. Seeing then, seeing then that we have a great High Priest. You're looking at the animator. Just do what He does. OK, Jesus cried out to God, Jesus talked to God, Jesus prayed. So can I.
Where He prayed, why He prayed, because it was hard and scary for Him, but He knew He was giving us an example. Then, thirdly, notice how He prayed. How He prayed, jot that down. How He prayed. He prayed, first of all, not by Himself. He brought people along, didn't He? He invited His friends into the journey. We know He had 500 disciples, many more in the bigger crowds who followed Him. But out of those 500, He had 12, and those 12 were His apostles. Now, at this moment, He is a man down, all right. He's got 11. He's got 11 because there's a Judas, right? Judas is off doing his things, all right. But I do have to point out that Jesus washed Judas' feet. Jesus, knowing Judas was going to betray him, washed his feet.
So Judas is off doing his thing, to the end loved by his Savior. And 11 disciples, 11 apostles, and He brings them with Him. And out of the 11, He had three that He was really vulnerable in front of. And those three we know of as Peter and James and John. And I love this because it shows us just, we have the whole body of Christ we love. That's amazing. But there needs to be a smaller group who we know we're in community with, we're doing life with, and out of those there needs to be a couple people who know what you're really facing, who know really what you're going through, who you can call in the middle of the night. People you know each other's garage codes. You can help each other out. There's no secret, because you're only as sick as your secrets. And we need to be open, because we get forgiveness from God when we confess our sins, but the book of James says we get healing when we confess our sins to one another.
And so I love that Jesus could have prayed by Himself, but He brought these along. He brought them in because He's showing us what we need to do as well. Watch and pray with me. My soul is troubled. What power there is in letting someone in your life know I'm troubled. I'm hurting. I'm in a bad way and need your help. Will you pray for me and will you pray with me? It is so important that you don't just follow Jesus and ignore the power and the benefit of the local church, of us together, struggling with you in the midst of this life. How he prayed, he prayed in community. He also prayed repeatedly. He didn't just pray this thing one time. It says He went back and woke them up, and then prayed using those same words again. And He kept praying, and he kept praying. He prayed repeatedly. He didn't give up the first time, because sometimes we don't see that it's working. Even when I don't feel it, it's working. He continued, He continued, He continued, and then He prayed urgently.
And it's almost like it got harder and harder the more He sat with it. It got harder and harder the more He, and you know the enemy was trying to do the same thing he did in the wilderness temptations. Bow down and worship me and you don't have to go to the cross. Throw yourself off the Temple and you don't have to go to the cross. Turn the rocks into bread, like there's an easy way out. He was tempting Him, tempting Him, tempting, He was experiencing temptation, but without sin. So we have a High Priest who can relate when we're struggling and when we're being tempted to make a wrong decision. We see Him urgently ramping up His intensity in prayer, because we know He started out standing, and according to the other Gospels, which you find these little details as you harmonize them, that He then moved to kneeling, almost like when He first felt it. OK, I really need to kneel.
And there's a time and a place for standing in prayer. There's a time and a place for kneeling in prayer. And then by the last part of the text we read, He is on His face. He is on the ground. And there is such a power and a strength of that dependence of laying down. God, I'm lying down before You, like you would before a sovereign or before a king in another culture. You're like, Levi, which prayer is the right one, right? Which golf club's the right golf club? It's like, what it's called for in the moment. And you see Jesus using different gears to handle different situations, different parts of the track that was in front of Him. So how did He pray? He prayed in community, repeatedly and urgently. And then notice what He prayed. What He prayed is our fourth area for consideration. In the garden of the pressing of olives, Jesus first of all prayed honestly. He prayed honestly to a shocking degree. He told God, I'm troubled. I'm so sad I could die. This is almost more than anybody could bear.
So He was being honest and He actually prayed about what the problem was. A lot of us have these problems going on, but when we actually give prayer requests, or when we actually talk to God, we talk to God about nothing concerning what's actually at the heart of the problem. And I think we can just be free to be honest to God. God, I'm sad right now. God, I'm troubled right now. God, I don't know if I can keep going on right now. And then Jesus said something that arguably you're like, should you even say that? Because He kind of just asked, could I not go to the cross? And that's been the plan in God's heart since before the foundation of the earth. You read Revelation and you see that the cross was the plan that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit had built before creation was even made. He's the Lamb slain from before the earth was framed.
So Jesus is in the garden on the eve of the crucifixion. What is He doing praying to not go to the cross? He's showing us that you cannot want to do a thing but still do the thing that God calls you to do. So long as you're willing to say to God, I don't want to do the thing. And a lot of you don't get the power you need because you won't actually tell God what the real problem is. I don't want to do the thing. I don't think I can do it. I don't think I can handle it. A lot of us struggle in life because we don't struggle in prayer. And Jesus is struggling. You're going to struggle somewhere, but let that struggle come out in God's presence. Be honest to God. Tell Him what's really going on, and then let Him do something about it.
He prayed a shockingly honest prayer. But He prayed that shockingly honest prayer with humility, because he didn't end at I don't want to go to the cross. I don't want to take up the cup. He ended with but nevertheless, that all being said, not what I will, but what You will, modeling for us again the humble dependence on the Father who has a perspective seeing the end from the beginning that we don't. Because we're going to go through stuff and go, God I don't know how I can make it through this. I don't think I can handle, I don't I don't think I can go on another moment longer. But You know what, You're in charge. You're the King, You're the Ruler, so I'm just going to trust You. I'm going to believe that You have a plan. I'm going to believe that You're up to something. So what do we pray? We pray honest prayers. Dude, David prayed one time for some of his enemies to have their teeth broken in their mouth. That's in the Bible.
I think it was N.T. Wright who said a lot of us never love our enemies because we've never found the power of praying away our hatred. And if we would pray our hate, could actually love those we hate. But a lot of us have that hate when we deal with people because we never learned to give that hate to God. And I think that's why God let David's uncensored Mafia prayer about broken teeth to stay in the Bible. Because then he could actually show love to them because he left that hate at the throne of the Father. So start praying some hateful prayers and see what happens. You didn't expect that, did you? I didn't either. But it's there. And then you can rise up with that humility of I want to do what you want me to do, regardless of how I feel. Our feelings are not the boss of us. And living in a culture in a time of everyone's feeling and their truth just needs to be the thing, Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life".
So how we feel about it is not the point. "Levi, what do I do if I'm reading the Bible and I disagree"? Change your mind, because you're wrong. So Jesus said, "I don't want to pick up the cup. You've sent Me to pick up the cup. I'm picking up the cup". Finally, let's shut this down. This has been a beautiful time together. After He prayed, and looking at where He prayed, and why He prayed, and how He prayed, and what He prayed, the reward, the payoff, is to get to watch, after He prayed, how He rose. It's amazing to watch Him while He's down, but what a thing to watch Him after He was down. You just see Jesus post- Gethsemane and He's different. He's a different Jesus. From this moment where He's struggling, where He's literally, we didn't read it because we're in Mark, but Luke's Gospel says while He was struggling, He actually began to bleed out of His sweat glands, which Luke would know, because he was a medical doctor, that that's an actual medical condition, where someone under such extreme, excruciating stress can actually begin to have tiny capillaries beneath the skin burst and little bits of blood can mingle with your sweat.
And so that's just some picture of what Jesus was facing here in this moment. Waking up His friends desperately, I thought you were going to pray with Me. I thought you were there for Me. I don't know if, I don't know if I have what it takes. That is hard to watch. Then you see Jesus when the soldiers show up. He's like, hey who are you guys here for, Jesus? It's me. You're like, this is the same guy? And they're shocked too. And then all throughout His trials, we'll talk about it next week. Come back to church next week. We're going to be in Luke's Gospel talking about the different trials Jesus faced, where lie after lie after lie was made up about Him. Because the guy went around healing people and feeding people, and they're trying to make Him seem like this big bad enemy of the state. So it takes some really creative wrangling, and throughout the whole thing He just stands there and just never answers them, never speaks up for Himself, so calm.
So when finally Pilate the Roman governor has to get involved, he's expecting some deranged, narcissistic, you know, sociopath. And Jesus is super cool, calm, and collected. Pilate literally marvels at Him. That's Mark chapter 15. Seeing that Jesus answered nothing to His accusers, Mark chapter 15 says Pilate marveled at Him. He's like, this is not the guy. And he keeps going back to his lieutenants and going like, this guy is innocent. This guy is innocent. This guy is like no one I've ever met. And so he comes back to Jesus goes, where are You from? He's like, My kingdom is not of this world, bro. It's just so amazing to watch Jesus after He prayed. Contrast that to the disciples who slept through the whole hour of prayer. Cutting ears off, not trying to throw anyone under the bus, Peter. Which I love, by the way, all four Gospel writers tell us that Peter cut the dude's ear off. Only John tells us who it was. All three of, a certain disciple cut an ear off. John says, it was Peter. He did it.
John 18:10, Simon Peter, having a sword. What happens when we forget to pray when we have something to cry about? We go hacking ears off, denying that we ever knew Him, bringing dishonor to the name of Christ. What happens when we pray? We get to be lambs when we need to be lambs and lions when we need to be lions. When we don't pray, we're lions when we should be lambs, and we're lambs when we should be lions, and we make a mess. And I know I've been there. I know I've been trying to draw Goofy but ended up a little bit like Lennox, right. It's like, your, your mother is going to love this, right? My imitation of Christ at times, you have to cross your eyes like you do one of those Magic Eye charts.
I think I see Goofy in there. I think, looking at Levi, think I see Jesus in there somewhere, sometimes. I've had days like that. What of those days? There's grace for that. I told you a bunch of stuff about Mark's Gospel that I love. Maybe my favorite thing about it is that it's based off of Peter's information. Almost every New Testament scholar agrees Mark was writing based on what Peter told him. And Mark was a young man who only is mentioned one time in the Bible. And it's in the immediate aftermath of the Garden of Gethsemane account. You need to read it this week because it's awesome and it involves nudity, OK? Just... But Mark seems to be the byproduct, spiritually, of Peter's ministry. Because when Peter wrote one of his epistles, he refers to John Mark as "my son in the faith".
And I love that God chose John Mark to write Peter's account of what Peter saw all throughout Jesus' earthly ministry. What brought them together? Why did they have such a good bond? I think they were united by failure. Because Acts 13:13, John Mark failed trying to follow Paul as his leader. He abandoned him when he needed him. He was his assistant and he was supposed to be there to assist him. But when it got hard, he bailed out. He didn't take the prayer time and say it's hard, but I'm going to still do it. He abandoned Paul. Paul was so frustrated he couldn't even talk to John Mark or even hear his name brought up for a couple of years. But by the end of his life, Paul eventually softened, and John Mark once again became useful to him and he gave him another shot. And I think that Peter, who denied Jesus three times, had a soft spot in his heart for John Mark, because he saw a lot of himself in John Mark.
And so I just encourage you to know that even if at times if you're drawing of Jesus looks a little bit at times like mine does, not quite so much what we're going for, not quite holding so fast as we would have liked, and there's been seasons in our lives that, quite frankly, we're not so proud of, here's what I want to encourage you with. Proverbs 24:16 says that a person who's righteous, who follows Jesus, can fall down, Proverbs 24:16, can fall down seven times. And just like olive presses are significant and symbolic, the number seven in the Bible is symbolic. It speaks of a huge, complete, total mess.
Even if you've fallen down seven times, that righteous person can get back up on their feet. And I just want to encourage you that when you fall, you can get back up. When you fall following Jesus, you can get back up. If you fall seven times, you can get back up eight. Come on, is anybody encouraged to know, I didn't get it right always, I cut off some ears, I told some lies, I wasn't always who I wanted to be, but thanks be to God for grace and second chances in Jesus' name.
And so, Father, we thank You that, like Jacob in the book of Genesis, who wrestled all night to get a blessing, who said to the angel, I will not let go unless you bless me, thank You that Your Son, the descendant of Jacob, He wrestled all night, but not to get a blessing for Himself. He took a curse for Himself, but He did so so He could get a blessing for us. Thank you, Father, that You're not like our earthly dads, or us, who say, if you don't quit crying I'll give you something to cry about. We thank You that You tell us You're going to solve the problem that created our tears, because You gave Your Son something to cry about.
If you're sad today, if you're hurting today, if you feel pressed today, if you're in that Gethsemane today, could I just give you a moment or a space in time to acknowledge that? Just wherever you are, just raise up a hand. You're saying, "God, I'm hurting. I need Your help. I'm grieving today. I'm in pain today". God bless these who are responding with vulnerability and honesty saying I'm hurting. There's a lot going on in my life today. If you feel hopeless today and you need God's peace, just raise up your hand.
Father, bless these. Help them to know that You are near and not far. You are our High Priest who can sympathize with us. Thank You for being with us. Thank You for taking up the cup. Thank You for going to the cross.
You can put your hands down. And I want to give, in this final moment of our worship experience, a chance for anybody who today has never made the all-important decision to give your heart to Jesus. Like putting a screw into drywall and not hitting a stud, it'll look good, but when you put weight on it, it won't hang. Anything else in life you could look to can't handle the weight of your soul, can't handle the weight of your life of eternity. But Jesus can. He died, He rose, and today He lives. And He will forgive you and heal you and make you His. If you accept your need for Him, if you turn from your sins, if you put your faith in His hands.
So we want to give you the opportunity to do what so many of us in this room have done, and that is to give your heart to Christ. So as we're praying with heads bowed and eyes closed, if you would say, I want to be forgiven. I sense a guilt for my sins, a need for God, a need for meaning, we're going to pray with you. None of you have done anything so bad God can't forgive you. It was all paid for at the cross. You just have to receive it. Say this. Pray it out loud with me. Mean in your heart. Our church family is going to pray it with you. We have your back in this. Say this to God:
Dear God, I know I'm a sinner. I've done wrong things. I've put other things in Your place, including myself. Today I turn around. I give You my heart. Thank You for the cross. Thank You for the resurrection. Thank You for new life. I give You mine. In Jesus' name I pray.