READING: Mark 14
The shadow of a coming cross weighed heavy on Jesus’ shoulders. The plot of Judas was underway. Jesus knew what awaited His disciples, and He also knew how they would first respond: “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered’” (Mark 14:27). All of them denied it, each apparently stating that he, like Peter, was prepared to die for Jesus (Mark 14:31).
Some of these same disciples, however, couldn’t even stay awake in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus told them to “Watch and pray” (Mark 14:38). Jesus knew the problem: “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38). In their human spirit, the disciples surely did want to follow Jesus. I doubt they were lying when they said they would die for Him. At least one of them, Simon Peter, would even later defend Jesus in the garden.
In the time of prayer, though, he could only sleep. His spirit may have been willing to follow Christ, but his flesh was weak. And, at least in this case, his flesh temporarily won the battle. We, too, face and lose these battles at times:
- Some among us genuinely want to turn from pornography, yet their body lures them back there.
- We commit to fasting, and that fast lasts only a meal because our physical hunger consumes us.
- Some passionately engage in exercising and eating properly for God’s glory, but that commitment breaks down when the cost seems too high.
- All of us, I trust, want to be obedient to God, but some give in to sexual desires in ways that displease God.
- Around the world, some will face the difficult decision to follow Christ fully even if it means facing persecution — and some among that group will choose to save their flesh.
Their spirit may indeed be willing — especially in times of safety and prosperity — but the flesh grows weak when the noose is around one’s neck. May God grant all of us the faith to push beyond our flesh to follow Him. May He even grant us faith to die if that's the cost of following Him.
- Look at your life to determine where Jesus’ words about the spirit and the flesh are most evident. Pray for insight, and then do an honest examination.
- Confess those areas to God. Accept His forgiveness. Press on in the power of His Spirit!
PRAYER: “Father, my flesh is weak more often than not. Grant me strength, but do not let me become strong apart from You.”
TOMORROW'S READING: Mark 15-16