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Lenten Journey of Release & Renewal (Day Thirty-Six)

Day Thirty-Six

Scripture: Mark 14:32-52

32 They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ 33 He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. 34 And he said to them, ‘I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.’ 35 And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 He said, ‘Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.’ 37 He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, ‘Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? 38 Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ 39 And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. 40 And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him. 41 He came a third time and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.’ 43 Immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; and with him there was a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. 44 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.’ 45 So when he came, he went up to him at once and said, ‘Rabbi!’ and kissed him. 46 Then they laid hands on him and arrested him. 47 But one of those who stood near drew his sword and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 48 Then Jesus said to them, ‘Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? 49 Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled.’ 50 All of them deserted him and fled. 51 A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, 52 but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked.


Mark reports numerous occasions when the disciples failed to understand and follow Jesus. When they were in the middle of the lake during a storm, they couldn’t see that Jesus was there with them and asked, “Who is this?” (Mark 4:35-41). When Jesus fed five thousand, they did not “understand about the loaves, and their hearts were hardened” (Mark 6:51-52). When Jesus talked about his death and resurrection, Peter took him aside and rebuked him (Mark 8:31-32). They could not drive out the unclean spirit because of their lack of faith (Mark 9:16-29).

However, today’s passage marks the climax of the disciples' failures. In that most vulnerable moment, when Jesus was “deeply grieved, even to death” and asked them to stay awake and pray for him, they fell asleep. Not once, but three times. What is even worse is that when the betrayer came and Jesus was arrested, “all of them deserted him and fled.”

How could they do this to their master, friend, and Messiah? Despite everything they witnessed, everything they went through together, how could they abandon him? An even more intriguing question arises: why does Mark tell us all these failure stories of the disciples? By the time it was written, they were important leaders of the church. Why did Mark not hesitate to write about their shameful stories?

I wonder if Mark wanted to tell the readers, including all of us today, about this difficult truth: we are like the disciples. We would have done the same to Jesus.

However, the good news is that Jesus doesn’t judge them. “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He understood them and still loved them, and after the resurrection, called them once again to feed his sheep.


  1. Is there someone around you who is praying like Jesus at Gethsemane?

  2. Is there something you are not doing because “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak”?

Prayer / Reflection:

Song of Reflection: The Old Rugged Cross (Karimba)

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