Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as written and recorded by John Mark. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses twelve through thirty-one of the fourteenth chapter. When you come to this particular day you find the day in which the entire week was leading up to and building toward finally arriving. As you begin reading the words which are found within the opening verse of today’s selection you will find John Mark speaking of the day when the Passover would be killed—essentially the day when the sacrificial lamb would be slaughtered. As I stand here this morning I can’t help but wonder what it was like as Jesus went to sleep the previous night knowing that when He awoke from His sleep the following morning He would wake to the final day of His life prior to being betrayed by one of His own, and ultimately being killed and crucified. I can’t help but wonder what it was like as Jesus awoke that morning knowing that in this particular day He would be betrayed by one of His owns into the hands of the chief priests, the scribes and the elders. What was it like when Jesus woke on the day when the Passover was killed knowing full well what that would mean? On this particular day the words which John the Baptist spoke concerning Him would actually come true and be fulfilled—the words which were spoken concerning the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world. Very early on during His ministry—before He had even been baptized by John in the waters of the Jordan River—John spoke of Him as being the Lamb of God which indeed did take away the sins of the world. That statement which John the Baptist made—not once but twice—as well as everything that had transpired within and throughout He life and ministry of Jesus the Christ led to this particular day and this particular moment when Jesus would be the ultimate Passover lamb that would be slaughtered and slain once and for all for the sins of humanity. On this particular day when the earthly lamb would be sacrificed upon the altar, Jesus Himself would awaken to a world that would cry out for His blood and cry out for His death. On this particular day Jesus would awaken from His sleep knowing that on this day He would be betrayed by one of His own, and His suffering and affliction would actually begin.
While I consider just the opening verse of this particular passage of scripture I can’t help but think to myself and wonder if Jesus could even sleep the night before, or if Jesus remained awake throughout the night. Is it possible that sleep alluded Him during the night, or perhaps even that He wrestled with His flesh and the ability to sleep during the night? What’s more, is that I can’t help but wonder if Jesus—unable to sleep, and as was His custom—awoke early before the sun was even up in order that He might enjoy private communion and fellowship with His Father through prayer. Is it possible that Jesus awoke early this morning—despite knowing that on this particular day His suffering would ultimately begin? I can’t help but be reminded of the life of the Old Testament patriarch and father of the faith Abraham, and how in the twenty-second chapter of the Old Testament book of genesis we find the Lord appearing unto Abraham in order that He might test Him. Scripture records how the Lord appeared unto Abraham and instructed Him to take His one and only son Isaac and to sacrifice him in the place He would show him as an offering and sacrifice before and in the presence of the Lord. What so interest and intrigues me about this particular occasion and occurrence within the life of Abraham is what that night was like for him. Knowing the Lord had not only asked him to sacrifice his one and only son, but also the seed of the promise, did Abraham have a difficult time sleeping that night? When Abraham laud Himself down upon his bed that night, did Abraham find that sleep alluded him? Did Abraham find himself wrestling with sleep throughout the night and then when he could take it no longer, he decided to rise from his bed? What is absolutely stirring and captivating about this particular event within the life of Abraham is that scripture records how He awoke and arose early in the morning. Perhaps Abraham rose early in the morning because he wrestled throughout the night with his thoughts and his emotions. Perhaps Abraham rose early because he simply couldn’t sleep for sleep alluded him throughout the night. Perhaps he had spent the night wrestling in prayer as his grandson Jacob would wrestle with the angel of the Lord, and when he had finally received all that he needed, it was morning, and he arose to fulfill, carry out and complete that which was asked and required of Him. Perhaps he awoke and rose from the place of his slumber in order to get everything ready to make the journey with his son Isaac in order that He might carry out the divine will, instruction and command of the Lord. Scripture is unclear as to the nature and reason for Abraham’s early morning rising, but if there was ever a morning when I would want to sleep in, this would be the morning to do so.
What I find to be so incredibly alluring and captivating about this particular event within the life of Abraham is actually wrapped up in his willingness to rise early on this particular morning. I have to admit that I am absolutely and incredibly astonished at that which Scripture records concerning the life of Abraham on this particular occasion, for Scripture writes and records how on the very morning when Abraham would indeed offer up his one and only son as a sacrifice before and unto the Lord, he arose early on that morning and chose to prepare himself, as well as perhaps his son Isaac for the sacrifice. There is something truly powerful and remarkable about Abraham’s willingness to rise early on this particular morning, for it’s almost as if Abraham didn’t give himself any chance of going back on that which the Lord had asked and required of him. By arising early on the morning when he was to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice upon the altar before the Lord, he chose to bring himself to the point of no return. By rising early in the morning Abraham didn’t allow himself to lay in bed alone with the thoughts within his head and the emotions that were raging through his soul. We would be incredibly naïve to think and consider—even for a moment—that Abraham didn’t wrestle with intense thoughts and emotions surrounding the sacrifice of his one and only son Isaac upon the altar. We would be incredible naïve to think that Abraham didn’t have to contend with what was perhaps an overwhelming number of emotions and thoughts that raged through his mind and his soul, and perhaps those thoughts raced and raged through his mind throughout the night. Scripture writes and records how Abraham awoke and arose early on the morning of the sacrifice, and I am convinced that by doing so he deliberately and intentionally chose not to allow himself to remain laying upon his bed where he would have to wrestle and contend with his thoughts. I would dare say that had he chosen to remain in his bed he would undoubtedly have had to wrestle and contend with the thoughts that went through his head, as well as the emotions that raged within and raced throughout his soul. By Abraham choosing to rise early on the morning when he was to sacrifice his son Isaac upon the altar, he was deliberately and intentionally choosing to fulfill and carry out the divine ask of the Father without any hesitation and reservation. CARRYING OUT THE DIVINE ASK OF THE FATHER! I absolutely love that which Scripture writes concerning the life of Abraham, for Abraham was completely unwilling to delay in His obedience before and his obedience before the Father. Abraham arose early on the morning he was to offer his son Isaac upon the altar, and he essentially provided himself no room to renege on that which the Lord had asked him to carry out unto completion.
What’s more, is that when I read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, is that when Abraham chose to arise early from his sleep and from his slumber, he chose not to allow himself to enjoy additional time with Isaac. While on the surface this might not seem like anything significant, however, by rising early on the morning he was to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice upon the altar, Abraham chose to keep himself from being able to enjoy any activity with his son Isaac, for such activity might have caused him to be overwhelmed and flooded with emotions that raged within and raced throughout his heart and soul. I find it absolutely incredible that Abraham deliberately and intentionally chose to rise early on the morning that he was to offer his son Isaac upon the altar, and I am convinced that his decision to do so was actually a means of safeguarding his heart, and even safeguarding his soul, for had he chosen to rise from the place of his slumber just as he would any other day, and had he chosen to enjoy the day just as he did any other day, he might have had opportunity to think upon that which he was asked to do, and even his willingness to carry out that which was asked of him, and as a direct result of thinking about that which was asked of him, he would renege and chose not to carry out the divine ask of the Father. Had Abraham chosen to go about this day just as he would any other day, it would have been incredibly possible for Abraham to have had the chance to spend time with him son Isaac, and as a result of enjoying that company and that fellowship, he could have had opportunity to turn back on that which the Lord had asked and required of him, and thus chosen to walk in disobedience before the true and living God. It is absolutely astonishing and remarkable that Abraham would chose to awake and rise early on the morning when he was to offer his son Isaac upon the altar as a sacrifice, for Abraham made this day all about business and all about carrying out and completing the divine ask and will of the Father. This day was not a day that was centered upon any type of enjoyment or pleasure whatsoever, for this was a day when Abraham would chose to forego enjoyment and pleasure in order that he might carry out the divine ask and will of the Father. This actually brings me to an incredibly important question within our own hearts and lives concerning our own lives and whether or not we are willing to forego any pleasures and enjoyment in order that we might fulfill and carry out the divine ask of the Father. Are we willing to forego any enjoyment and any pleasure in order that we might “be about the Father’s business” and carry out that which was asked and required of us? Are we willing to forego give up the divine pleasures and enjoyment of life in order that we might carry out and complete that which is required of us by the Father who is in heaven, or are we too consumed with our own sense of enjoyment, and the desires and pleasures of this world that there is absolutely no room for carrying out the divine ask and the divine will of the Father? Abraham rose early on the morning he was to offer his one and only son Isaac as a sacrifice upon the altar, and by doing so he allowed himself to be removed from any sense of enjoyment, delight and pleasure with his son Isaac, and thus potentially find reason to choose not to carry out the divine command and instruction of the Lord.
With all of this being written concerning the life of Abraham and the divine ask of the Father, and Abraham’s decision to wholly and completely obey that which the Father had asked and required of him, I am convinced it is necessary and imperative that we take a look at the text at hand in order that we might see the events as they actually unfolded within the life of Abraham. I am convinced that it is necessary that we consider that which transpired in the twenty-second chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis, for in order to do so we might gain a better understanding of that which took place during the life of Jesus on the day when the Passover was killed. Beginning with the first verse of the twenty-second chapter you will find the following words:
“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I k now that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen. And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, and said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast Dione this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: that in blessing will I bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou has obeyed my voice. So Abraham returned to Beer-Sheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beer-Sheba” (Genesis 22:1-19).
The reason I chose to include the account of Abraham within this particular writing is because when I read the words which John Mark writes in the fourteenth chapter of his gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, I can’t help but be absolutely captivated with and by the fact that in the twelfth verse we find Mark writing concerning the first day of unleavened bread, and how on this day they killed the Passover lamb. The more I sit here this morning and the more I consider that which is found in this passage of Scripture the more I can’t help but think about what it was like for Jesus to rise from the place of His slumber on this particular day and on this particular morning. I can’t help but wonder if on this particular morning Jesus Himself rose early thus not giving Himself any opportunity to remain laying upon His bed. There is not a doubt in my mind that when Jesus went to sleep the night before this particular day, He knew what the following day was, and what it would mean for Him. There is not a doubt in my mind that when Jesus laid Himself down to sleep the night before the first day of the Passover when they killed the Lamb, He was very much aware of what this particular day would mean for Him. There is not a doubt in my mind that when Jesus woke up on this particular morning He knew what this day would entail, and while we don’t have any record of Jesus wrestling with the Father in prayer the night before, we do find Jesus wrestling with God in prayer later on during this day. After the Passover meal had been enjoyed with His disciples, and after they had departed from the place where the Passover meal was partaken of, Jesus and His disciples would journey to the garden of Gethsemane where He would take with Himself Peter, James and John unto the place where He would pray before His Father who was in heaven. There is not a doubt in my mind that even on this particular occasion it was possible that Jesus rose early from His slumber in order that He might enjoy fellowship and communion with His Father in prayer. It might have been that fellowship and that communion was necessary in order to help Him move within and throughout the day knowing full well what would take place upon this day. The very fact that Mark writes concerning this first day of the feast of unleavened bread how it was the day the Passover lamb was killed is in and of itself truly remarkable, for it brings us face to face with the incredible and awesome significance of that which would take place on this day within the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. It would be on this particular day when Jesus would be betrayed into the hands of the chief priests, the scribes, the elders of Israel, and the religious leaders of that day in order that He might be put on trial, and ultimately killed.
What’s interesting and worth noting about that which John Mark writes and records in this passage of Scripture is that while he wrote concerning the first day of the feast of unleavened bread when the Passover lamb was slaughtered and sacrificed, the disciples asked Jesus where they would celebrate the Passover meal. In the twelfth verse of this particular passage of Scripture we find the following words which were written concerning this day within the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ—“And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the Passover, His disciples said unto Him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the Passover?” (Mark 14:12). It’s worth noting Jesus’ response to the disciples’ question, for Jesus instructed two of His disciples to go into the city of Jerusalem, and upon entering into the city there would meet them a man bearing a pitcher of water. This particular man who met them with the pitcher of water they were to follow, and wherever he went in, they were to speak unto the Goodman of the house and declare unto him how the Master wants to know where the guest chamber is in order that He and His disciples might eat the Passover with His disciples. I absolutely love what Mark writes and records next, for Mark would go on to write how the Goodman would then show these two disciples a large upper room furnished and prepared—a large upper room where they were to make ready for Jesus and the disciples to enjoy the Passover meal. I absolutely love what Jesus declares unto these two disciples, for Jesus would speak unto them concerning a large room that was furnished and prepared with which they were to use in order that they might partake of the Passover meal together. It would be very easy to overlook this single detail concerning the upper room, however, I am convinced that there is something truly remarkable and wonderful concerning this reality within the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. I find it absolutely wonderful and remarkable that Jesus speaks of a large room that was furnished and prepared, for it would be this room which was prepared and furnished to accommodate fellowship and communion with His disciples. I sit here this morning, and I can’t help but read these words concerning this upper room and think about the absolute necessity for a place to be furnished and prepared within our hearts and lives where we might partake of fellowship and communion with Jesus the Christ. In fact, I can’t help but be reminded of the words which Jesus speaks unto the seventh and final church which was mentioned in the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation which the apostle John wrote. When writing unto the church of the Laodiceans, Jesus spoke these words which are truly remarkable and incredible when you take the time to consider them:
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 3:20-21).
What is truly astonishing and remarkable concerning these words which were spoken by Jesus unto the church of the Laodiceans is that they are incredibly similar to the words which Jesus spoke unto His own disciples while they were present there in that upper room—the very room which was furnished and prepared for them to partake of and enjoy the Passover. If you turn and direct your attention to the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel which was written by the apostle John you will find the following words which were spoken by Jesus: “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that liveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me” (John 14:23-24).
It’s worth noting that the same language which we find in the letter which Jesus spoke unto the church of the Laodiceans was the same language He used when speaking unto the disciples when they were all together there in the upper room. When speaking unto both His disciples, as well as unto the church of the Laodiceans, Jesus emphasized this idea and reality of preparing a place whereby both He and His Father could come unto those who heard His voice and opened the door unto them. Jesus made it very clear that unto these individuals He and His Father would come in unto and with them, and would make their abode with them. What’s more, is that when speaking unto the church of the Laodiceans, Jesus emphatically declared that He would not only make His abode with them, but He would also sup with them. This language is truly incredible when you consider it in light of what is written and recorded in the New Testament gospel of Mark, for Jesus instructed the disciples to find a large guest chamber that was fully furnished and prepared, and there in that place which was furnished and prepared He would enjoy communion, fellowship and a meal with His disciples. I absolutely love how on the day when the Passover lamb was killed, and on the day when Jesus would be betrayed into the hands of the chief priests, the scribes and the elders, he chose to engage Himself in fellowship and communion with His disciples once more. It would be there in that upper room where Jesus Himself would choose to enjoy one final meal with His disciples before He would be betrayed into the hands of the religious community. How absolutely wonderful and incredible it is that Jesus would make fellowship and communion a priority on the same night when He was betrayed by one of His own, and when He would suffer tremendously at the hands of the scribes, the chief priests, and the elders of Israel before being turned over to the Romans who would only enhance and increase His suffering and affliction. On the night in which he would be betrayed Jesus would choose to enjoy fellowship and communion with His disciples—something we must take into consideration when thinking about this particular day within the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. I find it truly wonderful and truly remarkable that on the same night when Jesus was betrayed by one of His own, and on the same night when He would wrestle with His Father in heaven concerning that which was being asked of Him, He would choose to enjoy communion and fellowship with His disciples. On this very day when the Passover lamb was killed, and on this particular day when He would be betrayed by one of His own, and forsaken by all, He would deliberately and internally chose to enjoy fellowship and communion with His disciples. Please don’t miss the incredible significance and importance of this particular reality, for it presents us with something truly astonishing and remarkable concerning the desire of Jesus and the Father and toward us—namely, that if we are willing to make ready and furnish a space for them to make their abode within our hearts and lives, they will come unto us and chose to not only make their abode with us, but also sup with us.
I absolutely love that Mark writes how the disciples would find a room already furnished and prepared when they followed the water, and when they had spoken unto the goodman of the house, for it speaks to us concerning the tremendous need to make ready and to prepare a place within our hearts, a place within our homes, a place within our jobs, and a place within our lives whereby we can enjoy and experience fellowship and communion with Jesus the Christ. JESUS DESIRES TO HAVE A MEAL WITH YOU! There were and are certain examples of suppers and meals being prepared for Jesus and His disciples, and one of them takes place just before we read of Jesus and His disciples partaking of the Passover meal with His disciples in the upper room. In the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John we find a supper being prepared, and Lazarus sitting at the table with Jesus the Christ who had raised Him from death to life. Now, on this particular day and occasion we find Jesus and His disciples entering into a room which had been furnished and prepared in order that they might enter therein and enjoy a meal together before He would be betrayed. Oh, please don’t miss the tremendous significance and importance of this, for it speaks directly to the reality of Jesus the Christ and the Father desiring to experience and enjoy fellowship and communion with those who are His disciples. That which we find within this passage of Scripture is absolutely wonderful and remarkable, for within it we find the tremendous need to make ready, to furnish and prepare a place for the Father and the Son to come in unto us, to make their abode with us, and to sup with us. Perhaps the best way to put this is that if in the Father’s house there are many mansions, and if Jesus goes to prepare a place for us whereby we might enjoy and experience fellowship and communion with Him for all eternity, why would we not make ready, furnish and prepare a place where Jesus and the Father could enjoy fellowship and communion with us as His disciples. The question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we are willing to set up the furniture in order that we might sit down together with Jesus. Are we willing to set up chairs in a place within our hearts and lives in order that we might sit down together with the Father and the Son? Are we willing to fully prepare and fully make ready a place within our hearts and our homes in order that the Father and the Son might come in unto us and enjoy fellowship and communion? Are we willing to arrange couches and cushions in order that we might rest and relax with the Father and the Son and enjoy unbroken fellowship and communion with each other? Are we willing to do whatever is necessary and whatever it takes in order that we might fully prepare and furnish a place within our hearts and homes in order that the Father and the Son might come in unto us and thereby enjoy fellowship and communion with us? Are we willing to make ready and carve out—not only time, but also space within our hearts and lives in order that we might experience fellowship and communion with Jesus the Christ and with His Father who is in heaven? There is a tremendous need within our hearts and lives to both carve out time, as well as to carve out space in order that we might enjoy and experience divine fellowship and communion with the Father, and the ultimate reality comes down to us being willing to open the door to the Father and the Son. There is a tremendous responsibility—not only to open the doors unto the Father and the Son, but also to make ready and prepare a place where we might all experience unbroken fellowship with one another. One all important and all encompassing question is whether or not we are willing to carve out such a place within our hearts and our homes in order that the Father and the Son might enter in and partake of a meal with us, and through fellowship and communion enjoy each other’s presence and company.