SIFTED (Naked Runner #23)


The Gathering/ Pastor Barry Bruce     The Gospel of Mark (Naked Runner Series #23)

Betrayed Mark 14:24-26, John 13:21-30,1 Corinthians 11:27

Jesus and his disciples had finished eating the Passover together and Judas, the betrayer, had left just as soon as he ate the bread and wine in the most unworthy manner (John 13:21-30, 1 Corinthians 11:27). Most of the disciples thought that Judas had left the table early to take care of some financial business since he was in charge of the money (only John knew for sure and maybe Peter according to John’s account), but Judas was well on his way to the authorities by the time the others had sung a hymn and went out of the Upper Room to walk to The Mount of Olives where Jesus would later be arrested.

Sifted Mark 14:27-31, Luke 22:31-34, 1 Corinthians 10:12-13, Romans 12:2-3

On the walk to The Mount of Olives Jesus told his disciples that they would all fall away and thus fulfill a prophecy by Zechariah (Zechariah 13:7). Peter denied that truth, “even if all fall away, I will not”, he said. Jesus prophesied to Peter that before a rooster crowed twice that he would disown him three times.  The gospel of Luke tells us more about the story.  Jesus called out to Peter the name that was his before he left all to follow him: “Simon, Simon”, Jesus called twice; like the rooster that would later crow and remind him of his failure (Mark 14:72), but Jesus showed compassion. He informed Peter that although Satan had asked to “sift” all of the disciples “as wheat” that Jesus had prayed especially for him.  Although all the disciples and especially Peter were indeed “sifted like wheat” (put through immense trial and tribulation) Jesus prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail and when he would turn back he would strengthen his brothers.

We can learn much through Peter’s denial of his own weakness. We must be careful in our living and thinking or we too may fall (1 Corinthians 10:12). The Apostle Paul continued this teaching to the Corinthian and Roman church by reminding them that all people are tempted by the devil but God is always faithful to provide a way out as we keep our focus on him (1 Corinthians 10:13). We must not ever think more of ourselves than we ought, but we must think of ourselves with “sound judgment”(Romans 12:3). Sound judgment does not come from our own head or “self confidence” as the world teaches.  It comes from God’s word to us and births faith (Romans 10:17) lived out in action (James 2:17).  Peter thought more of himself than he should have. All the disciples did for that matter (Mark 14:31). Do we?

Watch and Pray Mark 14:32-42, Hebrews 12:1-2, 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

The remedy to thinking to highly of ourselves is to continually watch and pray. That is to watch out for sin that so easily entangles us and keep our eyes on Jesus, “the pioneer (author) and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2) and to pray continually: Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians  5:16-18 

In other words we need to stop being so inclined to earthly things and look continually at the spiritual.  The spiritual is eternal and the earthly is temporal (2 Corinthians 4:17-18). It is only by looking at life this way that we can get through all the “sifting” that temptations, troubles and afflictions bring.  Even in our greatest failures there is hope when we contemplate the spiritual view of things. 

Peter and the other disciples did not watch and pray as Jesus asked them to on the night that he was arrested.  They all fell asleep as Jesus fought within himself to purchase man’s adoption as God’s children with his own blood. “Simon”, he said to Peter, “are  you asleep?”

He and the others could not keep watch for one hour and so they fell into temptation.  Their spirit (desire) was willing but they gave into their earthly weaknesses. We will too if we do not get into the habit of watching and praying.  

The great betrayer is not Judas as we thought… it is our own lack of willingness to watch and pray! 

Willfully Arrested/ Naked and Afraid Mark 14:43-72, Isaiah 61:10

The lack of watching and praying always leads to an awful surprise!  While Jesus willfully allowed himself to be arrested so that the scriptures would be fulfilled      everyone deserted him and fled! Didn’t Peter and they all say “I will never disown you (Mark 14:31)? Surprise!  Have you ever experienced an awful surprise due to your own lack of watching and praying?

Only Mark‘s gospel includes the story of the “naked runner” because it is likely him!  He would have been a sleepy young tag along who likely woke to swords and torches wearing only a bed sheet. Running for his life he lost his covering and ran naked to freedom. Our freedom is why Jesus didn’t run or wipe out the mob.  According to the gospel of John when Jesus answered his captors call they all fell to the ground (John 18:6) and when Peter drew his sword and cut off a guards ear Jesus healed it and told his defender to put away his sword (Luke 22:50-51, John 18:10). Before the lying Sanhedrin (Jewish court) Jesus remained silent except to say that he was the Messiah and they would see him one day in judgment (Mark 14:62). Meanwhile, Peter fulfilled the prophecy of Jesus about his three time denial and the rooster crowed twice…”Simon, Simon” echoed the words of Jesus in his mind and he wept!  But Jesus had compassion on Peter and all of us betrayers.  That is why he was willfully arrested.  So that in the forgiveness of his blood we would never need to be naked and afraid, but clothed forever in his righteousness!

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