My Bible reading plan's New Testament reading this morning was Mark 14:17-42. I was struck huge focus it puts on one's internal life.
1) As Jesus tells his 12 disciples that one of them will betray him, in a rare moment of vulnerable honesty around each other - rather than jostling for power - they ask 'Is it I?'(v19). This is good! They are self aware and seem to know that the heart is deceitful above all things. They ask Jesus to help them see if that is in their hearts. That's a good place to start - where you know your heart is prone to that kind betrayal. Every time we sin, every time we seek fulfillment from anything other than God, we betray Him. Our hearts follow another 'master'. KEEP ASKING THE QUESTION 'Is it I?' - what am I prone to wander towards other than God? Be aware of your deceitful heart.
2) Jesus then tells them that when he is 'struck' they will be scattered...Peter jumps in and says 'No, not me! Even if they do, I won't'. He then proceeded to argue with Jesus about it. This is not good. Does he think his heart could betray Jesus (Is it I?) but not deny Jesus? The older I have got, the stronger my convictions have become on some things but the less sure my pronouncements/declarations have become. As a younger man I made many...that time has proved false. My heart is dodgy. I don't want to ever deny Jesus...but how many times have I ignored that still small voice because it would be uncomfortable? Tarnishing my reputation, etc...Wherever you feel strongest, be aware. We rightly pay attention to our weaknesses, but don't look for the ambush on our 'strengths'. Be aware of your proud heart.
3) In his greatest moment of anguish, Jesus takes three close friends aside and asks them to 'remain and watch' while he prays (v34). Not too hard a task...THREE times he finds them asleep and says (after the first time) 'Could you not watch one hour? The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak.' (v38). Jesus does see the resolve of our hearts, and I believe he loves it. Our desire is mostly to honour him, be faithful and loyal to him. BUT...the flesh is weak. One momment we know we can betray Jesus, the next we argue with him that we never will. Up and Down. Back and forth.
Jesus chose these men knowing they were like this. He stuck with them. He saw the yearnings of their heart. Yet it still disheartened hime when the flesh prevailed ('Could you not watch one hour?'). What can we do about this? We can 'Watch and pray' (v38). Who helps you watch? The disciples had Jesus to ask 'Is it I?' - who do you ask;
- Where might I fall?
- Where do you see me slipping?
- What am I blind to?
Pray for God to reveal your heart, to convict you...and by the way his method is often to bring people into your life who reveal that so you can see it or ask questions to help you on that journey. Pray he would not lead you into temptation - that's pretty cool...not to even be tempted...he said we could pray that! Take action. Don't trust yourself! Pay attention when you make declarations like Peter did. And remember when you do fail...he does see your heart that years for him and grieves your sin.