I read a New Year's Day prayer that goes like this:
Dear Lord, So far this year I've done well.
I haven't gossiped, I haven't lost my temper, I haven't been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or overindulgent. I'm very thankful for that.
But in a few minutes, Lord, I'm going to get out of bed, and from then on I'm going to need a lot more help.
If we're going to be realistic, we have to realize that 2010 isn't going to be easy. A new year is going to bring new trials.
We look at what's happening with our economy and the radical changes in Washington and more than likely the hard times aren't over.
Some of us will face loss of health, loss of jobs, loss of homes, loss of relationships.
I wonder "Are you ready to face the trials that 2010 will bring?"
More importantly, "Can you trust the Lord in your trials?" And we find the answer in tonight's passage.
Now as we've read through Mark's gospel, we've seen some pretty dark times.
In ch. 1, Jesus is starved and tempted by Satan.
In ch. 2, he's verbally attacked by the Pharisees.
In ch. 3, He's accused of being the demon-possessed.
In ch. 4, the disciples are in a terrible storm.
In ch. 5, Jesus faces 2,000 demons.
In ch. 6 He's rejected in His hometown.
And the list goes on. We've seen in recent chapters, that the religious leaders are plotting to kill Him.
But as bad as it's been. The ugliest chapter yet, is here. In ch. 14, Jesus not only suffers mockery and injustice at trials by His enemies, but He's betrayed, denied and abandoned by those closest to Him.
Remember Mark is writing these words to Roman Christians about 30 years later. And these persecuted believers are experiencing extreme trials. They're huddled together in caves and tombs under Rome. They're being eaten by lions in the Coliseum for sport. That's the national pastime-watching Christians die. They're being burned as torches in Nero's backyard.
And so the Holy Spirit highlights the theme of suffering in ch. 14. So that the original Roman readers then (and readers like us today) would understand that no matter how severe our trials become, we can trust the Lord.
Now skeptics of the Bible and liberals would say we can't trust Jesus during our trials because He was just a man who couldn't even face His.
I mean if you were looking for a book at the library on how to get through trials would you really pick one up by a guy who was betrayed, denied, deserted by His own friends. And executed as a criminal. Would you really feel confident that this guy is going to have the answers?
One famous liberal theologian of the 20th century, Albert Schweitzer, said that Jesus just lost control and became a helpless victim. He writes this in The Quest for the Historical Jesus.
Jesus...lays hold of the wheel of the world to set it moving on that last revolution ... It refuses to turn, and He throws Himself upon it. Then it does turn; and crushes Him. ... The wheel rolls onward, and the mangled body of the one immeasurably great Man, who was strong enough to think of Himself as the spiritual ruler of mankind and to bend history to His purpose, is hanging upon it still.
According to Schweitzer, Jesus overplayed his hand and so Jesus is not the sovereign God we can trust, but just a good man who left a good example, and nothing more.
Now if this is what happened, then Schweizer would be right. But we'll see in this passage that it's not what happened. The liberals are absolutely wrong.
In Mk. 14, we see that Jesus is the sovereign Lord we should trust in our trials, in our suffering, in our new year.