36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch[a] with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” 40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on.[b] See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
Dear Friends in Christ,
On the first two Wednesdays of Lent, the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, has invited us to be gathered, to be honest, to be sorry, and to be amazed. To be gathered into the presence of a gracious God, to be honest about the ways we have wounded our Savior, to be sorry for the ways we have betrayed our best friend Jesus, and to be amazed at our God’s desire to have mercy, to be amazed at a sacred head, now wounded. Again tonight, the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, to be gathered, to be honest and to be sorry specifically with regard to the sin of apathy, and to be amazed. Amazed at the desire of our God to have mercy, to spend some time focused on Jesus praying, His best friends sleeping, and the angels watching over.
Sit here, while I go over there and pray……So, could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Truth #1 – We have a standing invitation from Jesus to watch with Him and pray. (Jesus praying, disciples sleeping, Father listening, angels preparing cross) To stand and watch with Him against the enemies of the faith. 1) Sinful nature 2)Sinful world 3)Devil himself
The Setting is the Garden of Gethsemane. A garden where a man and his friends could come in the cool of the evening to get away from it all, for discussion, for relaxation, and for prayer. This garden is likely where an oil press was located. Most likely located near the trees so they didn’t have to carry the olives too far. For Jesus and His friends, this night was as dark as darkness can be. The soul of Jesus was as lonely as loneliness can get, as painful as pain can hurt. If you’ve ever had to drink a gallon of nasty tasting solution to get yourself ready for a colonoscopy the next day, and then multiply that by a thousand and then again by a million and then again by a billion, you will begin to taste what Jesus was about to taste. Jesus was about to drink a chalice full to the brim and even running over. Running over with the wrath of a righteous God and aimed at sinners in every generation.
It was the wrath of God aimed against all of our orneriness and poured into a solitary chalice. Aimed at all of our laziness and poured into a single container. Aimed at all of our wickedness and all of our nastiness and all of our self centeredness and all of our indifference an poured into one lonely chalice. Oh how our Savior was shivering and shaking like no one else had ever shivered and shook. Trembling and troubled like nobody else had ever been trembling and troubled.
The Simple Request of our Lord was that he not have to do this alone. It was that his three closest friends in life would watch and pray with Him for one hour. He was asking that they stay awake and be interested in what He was going through. He was wondering if they could stay close, stay awake, and be alert. Just for an hour or so, could they sensitive to his pain, could they feel what He was feeling, could they cry what He was crying, could they pray what He was praying?
Truth #2 is that apathy can get ugly in a hurry. (Jesus praying, disciples sleeping, angels preparing cross) “And he came to them and found them sleeping…..And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy…..He came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on….”
No doubt the disciples meant well, but they failed Jesus in a strong way. They cared for Jesus, but drowsiness prevailed. Their mistake may have been that they laid down instead of sitting or kneeling. (Story of my brother Curtis who made the mistake of driving when he was tired, it cost him his life.)
In an article, “How God cares for those who don’t”, Paul Maxwell defines apathy as “the disposition of dismissal or reluctance toward a particular idea, person, or group, often experienced as a lack of emotion. He lists five basic components to apathy.
1) Meaningless / “apathy is the emotional middle finger to meaning.” / it is to say “thanks but no thanks” to life’s purpose / blank stare / contrast with Luther’s “What does this mean?” and “How is this done? questions
2) Easiness / it’s easy to be apathetic / it is to put a “do not disturb” sign to opportunity and people / an emotional Saturday afternoon nap / Difficulty is considered a vice and ease a virtue / Way is easy and road is wide that leads to destruction
3) Trendiness vs. holding dear what we have been taught from our mother’s knees
4) Entitlement / apathy spreads when it becomes an assumption / we end conversations with a scoff, a shoulder shrug, a rhetorical confused look / we listen to a sermon with “when will this be over?
5) Stuck – Apathy’s “battle cry is ‘whatever’. Try to rouse the apathetic, and you have a real fight on your hands. Apathy is a powerful non emotion. It shackles you to yourself. It’s a motivational straight jacket that you can’t feel or try your way out of.” Truth # 2 – Apathy can turn ugly in a hurry.
Truth #3 is that Father knows best. Three times Jesus prayed earnestly (as disciples slept, His Father listened, angels prepared cross). He prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” / My soul is sorrowful, even to death / Luke writes, “And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat become like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
The primary will of God is that whoever believes and is baptized be saved. The corresponding will is that whoever believes not be damned.
The will of God for us is that 1) we do the good works ordained by God for us to do, 2) we avoid the evil the devil tempts us to do, and 3)we suffer patiently whatever afflictions we face.
The will of God is to make disciples of all nations through a faithful Word and Sacrament ministry and that God get all the glory!
Author Paul Maxwell on Redeeming the Apatheetic / God keeps on loving us, keeps on pursuing us / doesn’t give up on us / we’re under construction.
· Affirmation / God affirms the “I don’t care” attitude towards trivialities / burns away the dross / faith is like gold which gets tested by the fire and impurity is driven out
· Invites us to rest / go to a quiet place / Divine Service / create in me a clean heart
· Security – Being secure in God means saying, “Things matter, and I care.” Goal #1 is to be faithful, effectiveness is secondary.
· Community –we travel together /we stir up one another towards good works / caring about the kingdom of God is contagious
· Himself –The kingdom of God is like a large church in a small town more and more amazed by their Savior’s steadfast love. Regularly they see in the mirror how with regard to the kingdom of God they have fallen into lethargy, listlessness, and lukewarm Lutheranism. Regularly, they fix their eyes on their wounded Savior and see how patient, how peculiar, and how persevering is His love for them. Regularly, their sins of apathy are forgiven, their faith is strengthened, and their desire for the mission of God to go forward is renewed. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Worship Sermons & Letters
Pastor Paul Muther