Luke 22:31-14 & 39-41 and Matthew 26:36-41
Pastor Steve started today’s sermon in Luke 22:31-32, commenting that this passage should encourage everyone who feels like a failure, since Peter declared he was ready to go to prison and face death before he failed miserably. Yet less than 45 days after Peter denied Christ, he was preaching powerfully on the day of Pentecost. This shows how Jesus didn’t need a 27-week program to grow someone into a bold witness. He can do it at the snap of a finger.
In addition to following Him, we have to avoid succumbing to the devil’s discouragement. To illustrate that point, Steve turned to verses 39-46, where Jesus prayed earnestly to the Father to remove the cup of suffering He knew awaited Him. When he returned to the disciples, they were sleeping from sorrow.
“I had never seen that before,” Steve said. “They were sleeping (because of) heaviness. You could call it bad things piling up. Jesus said you’re going to desert me, Peter will betray me, you’ll deny me, and I’m going to go the cross. They’re saying, ‘Why is He saying that?’”
It’s interesting to consider that such confusion and depression is one reason they fell asleep, said Steve, who added that this is what happens when we start giving up that God can ever grow Celebration Church, help us overcome sin, or to forgive someone who has hurt us. This doesn’t mean that we can ever be totally free of sin, and yet we shouldn’t role over and lay down like a submissive dog who surrenders to the alpha male. While we may have a right to be sorrowful over sin, that doesn’t mean we should make peace with it.
“Don’t quit!” Steve said. “Wake up. Don’t give up on your son, or daughter, or friend that doesn’t know Jesus. Don’t quit praying for them. The point is to get up and pray, not hope if I’m nice to the big, mean wolf he’ll be nice to me. Jesus is telling (the disciples) to get up and pray.”
He also turned to Matthew 26:36-46 for a different slant on the same story. Steve pointed out this passage describes Jesus getting ready to drink the cup of sin and experience God’s wrath. He’s about to step in front of that missile and experience unbelievable pain for an ungrateful people in return for living a sinless life. Not only should we appreciate the enormity of His sacrifice, instead of praying to remove unpleasantness from our lives, we should pray, “Lord, teach me more about You.”