This is my message for our Services of the Last Supper, which were on Wednesday, March 23 & Thursday, March 24. The text was Mark 14:22-42.
In Mark’s Gospel, more so than the other three, Jesus feels alone. While he knows what awaits him, and has told his disciples what is to come, now that the hour is here, he feels alone.
He knows that this meal he celebrates with his closest friends will be his last meal. But he made it more than that. He told them, and they told others so that it would be shared to us and through us, that this meal was more than what it signified.
The Passover meal is a sacred tradition in the Jewish culture, but especially so for the Jews of Jesus time when, while you could celebrate Passover anywhere, you had to be in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover meal. It begins with someone, usually the youngest person, asking, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” That allows the story to be told of how the people of Israel were delivered out of slavery in Egypt. The entire meal helps to tell the story of what God has done for the Chosen People, how they were freed and blessed so they could be a blessing to the world.
Jesus takes the opportunity of this meal, and all of the symbolism to tell his disciples of the new thing that God is doing in the world, and how THAT night would be different from all other nights.
At the beginning of the meal, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and said the blessing. Then he broke it to give it to his disciples, and added to the formal story of Passover. He told them This is my body. It was his final sharing, giving all that he was, to and for his friends. That statement, This is my body, hung over the entire meal.
When it came time for the third portion of wine to be distributed at the end of the meal, Jesus gave thanks to God for it, and shared it with his disciples. AFTER they drank it, he told them, This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. The term for many means for all. While they celebrate the deliverance that is part of the covenant God made with Moses, Jesus tells them that his blood seals a new covenant between God and all people.
Then they went to the Mount of Olives and to Gethsemane. It was here in this garden that Jesus tells his disciples that they will all desert him. I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered. Peter says he will die before abandoning Jesus. He is told that before dawn, he will deny Jesus three times. Again Peter says he will die before denying Jesus. The others agree, they will die before abandoning Jesus.
When Jesus goes away to pray, he asks the disciples to stay awake. He comes back three times to find them asleep. He is alone. When they come to arrest Jesus, all his disciples run away in fear, including one who runs out of his clothes to get away.
The Son of God, who knows what lies ahead, threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.” He begs his Father to give him a way out; he doesn’t want to do this. A commentator said that for you all things are possible are the most excruciating words in all of Scripture. Jesus confesses that God can do whatever God wants, and that it may be possible that he does not have to face the cross. He is begging for there to be another way.
He is alone, separated from his followers. He feels separated from God. In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus says only one thing from the cross. Eloi, eloi, lema sabachthani? My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
But while he feels alone, he still is faithful. Not what I want, but what you want.
Jesus isn’t surrendering to his fate; he is surrendering to God, and to God’s will. It isn’t giving up, it is trust. It is telling God that he will embrace whatever the will of God is.
Jesus has shared his fears and anxieties with God. He has let God know he wants a way out. Jesus has cried out for another way, another chance. But he trusts in the love of God.
When he had finished praying, he lived out part of the prayer he taught his disciples, that we have learned from an early age. Thy will be done.
We pray that all of the time, but do we really mean it?
Our wants, wishes and desires are often in conflict with God’s will. We know what God’s will is: Love God, Love Others. But there is a huge difference between knowing and recognizing God’s will and doing God’s will. There is just a sizeable distance between doing God’s will and trusting God’s will.
If there is any example that we can take from the life of Jesus Christ, the Son of God it is realizing when our wants conflict with God’s will, and trusting God’s will. Not what I want, but what you want.
Jesus Christ has turned in the Garden of Gethsemane to face those who want to arrest him. Thy will be done.
Pastor Brian's Page
Pastor Brian Robert Campbell has served at Our Savior's and Emmanuel since August 1, 2011, and began serving Nazareth on December 1, 2015.
Pastor Brian is originally from Saginaw, Michigan. He graduated from Alma College with a B.A. in Business Administration, and worked for the Saginaw Public Schools' Community Education Department for 17 years before answering the call to ministry. He graduated with a M. Div. from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg in 2011. ONE in Christ Lutheran Parish is his first call.
He is the only child of Robert and Charlotte Campbell, both who have entered the Church Eternal.
He is accompanied in ministry by his faithful bulldogge Ananias, who regularly writes for our newsletter. His articles are archived here.
He is a fan of sports teams from his native Michigan, especially the Tigers and the Lions. But we tolerate him despite that.
ONE in Christ
on Social Media
Our Savior's Facebook
Our Savior's / Emmanuel: 715-267-6142
Nazareth's Office: 715-229-2051
is at 8:00 a.m.
is at 9:30 a.m.
is at 11:00 a.m.