“He walked away, about a stone’s, and knelt down and prayed”
Who knows what Jesus is thinking at this precise moment as he entered the Garden? His disciples waited for Jesus and scripture states that he proceeded ahead of them— “a stone’s throw.”
We often share in the sorrows of the people closest to us, and Jesus wants His disciples to follow him. And they do, but not all the way. They came close, but were oblivious to the full nature of the pain that was beginning for Jesus. They slept while he agonized. He was for the first time perhaps, needing someone close.
Many of us will make the same trip to the garden. Soon every believer makes the trip to ‘Gethsemane,’ but not as mere observers. It is a distinct place of testing and of sorrow. And each will experience it for themselves. “The servant is not above his master.”
But Jesus is close— he completely understands what it means to be alone with sorrow. The believer can lean on Jesus as the pain continues. He sends his “Comforter” to each, as he escorts us through this time. He comes in grace, and is completely kind. He truly is just a stone’s throw away.
“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.”
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”
Matthew 7:15, NIV
I use my channel changer and I flip through the enormous darkness that exists in the world. Jesus clearly warns His flock of the cold, hard realities of deception and deceitfulness they face. Trickery abounds and things simply are not what they seem to be.
Darkness has an dark grasp on so many. The devil’s cunning is his ability to adapt to each person’s weakness. Deception has worked well for him for thousands of years. But understand: Lucifer is alive and well and he is prowling planet Earth.
There should be an alertness for the reality of deception. Sometimes, some sheep will not really be sheep. Our senses are not always trained to look for counterfeit Christians. We get confused by the outside (it looks like wool to me). But it’s a lie. The wolf has deliberately taken on the attire of a believer.
What better place for him to ‘minister’ his evil than through a cold and lazy institutional church?
Jesus alerts us to what is really taking place. (Oh, how He wants us to discern!) I think every believer should have a holy skepticism of outward displays of faith. This is not cynicism or negativity; but rather it is a cautious faith– one in which we can discern the realities of a world that routinely destroys people. The first generation Church understood the reality of evil and what it would do when it’s unleashed.
“The first step on the way to victory is to recognize the enemy.”
Corrie Ten Boom
“…they are ferocious wolves,” (v. 15).
Ferocious” in verse 15 is a sobering word. When I read it, I think of my home in Alaska with its wilderness and its wolves and brown bears; or maybe the grasslands of the ‘Serengeti’ with its lions or leopards. A dangerous carnivore is often hidden by its camouflage. Ferocity is a ‘predator’ word, a word that intensifies the danger. Satan can patiently stalk for days, and maybe months, and then he springs his trap and ambushes its victims.
We can become accustomed to an ideal of love and peace in our walks, we are often disturbed and perhaps pulled off-balance by this disturbing revelation of evil. Jesus tells us that we must possess an understanding of two things: 1) Deception is quite possible for the real believer, that in 2000 years the darkness is still potent. 2) The world is still contested but Jesus is Victor! Living in close proximity to Jesus will protect us in the dark.
We shouldn’t be anxious but trust Him in the matter of the safety of our very souls.
“Now go, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves.”
Luke 10:3, NLT
Do you know what wolves do to lambs? But yet Jesus still sends them. They might surround us, but we are His own.
“How comfortable it is to have One, day and night, before the throne to control the charge of our enemy, and the despondencies of our souls”
(The opening artist is unknown. Not sure who the artist is. Let me know and I can give you your due credit.)
Clyde Kilby’s 10 Resolutions for Mental Health and for Staying Alive to God in This World
Once a day I will look at the sky and remember that I am on a planet traveling in space with wonderfully mysterious things above and about me.
I will suppose the universe is guided by an intelligence.
I will not fall into the lie that this day, or any day, is merely another ambiguous and plodding 24 hours, but rather a unique event, filled with wonderful potential.
I will prefer reality to abstractions.
I will not demean my own uniqueness by envying others. I will mostly forget about myself and do my work.
I will open my eyes and ears by at least once a day simply staring at a tree, a flower, a cloud or a person. I will simply be glad that they are what they are.
I will often remember back to when I was a child and think about my dreaming eyes of wonder.
I will frequently turn to things like a good book and good music.
I will enjoy each moment, not always worrying about what the decade before me will demand from me.
I will bet my life on the assumption that this world is not idiotic but rather acknowledge that each day strokes are made on the cosmic canvas that in due course I will understand with joy as a stroke made by the architect who calls himself Alpha and Omega.
“Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise.”
Clyde Kilby, who is now with the Lord in heaven, was my teacher in English Literature at Wheaton. He did as much as any other teacher I have had to open my eyes to the ministry of God in the skies.