"Going a Little Farther with God"
Today’s Life Text: “He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed…’” (Mark 14:35 NKJV) The hour was very late and the disciples had just received the first Lord’s Supper - this following a day with Jesus that was filled with much ministry along with a growing sense of prophetic tension with all the rapidly occurring events around them. From the setting of today’s life text, we see these disciples understandably tired and weary as they continue to follow their Master under the darkness of night to a place called the Garden of Gethsemane. Although yet to be fully understood by His disciples, Jesus was entering the final hours of His time on earth, and was now seeking a special time of communion with His heavenly Father in prayer to help ready Him for the events that were about to take place. He had called out Peter, James and John from the group of disciples and together they went “a little farther” into the Garden with Him. Positioning them with the simple instructions - “Remain here and keep awake and be watching” (Mark 14:34 Amplified Bible) – Jesus then “went a little farther” (“about a stone’s throw” Luke 22:41 NLT) and fell to the ground in deep, intense prayer with His Abba (Papa / God the Father). God’s Word shows us that throughout Jesus’ 33 years on earth, He always “went a little farther” in every teaching moment that He held, in every miracle that He performed, in every healing which He conducted and in every life that He touched - that was just consistent with His divine character! In fact, while in the Garden at Gethsemane, He was literally hours away from obediently following His Father’s Will in going “a little farther” up a hill called Golgotha where He would painfully be nailed to a cross and crucified like a common criminal for the sins of all the world (1 Peter 3:18). This sacrificial demonstration of His undying love for us (John 3:16) forever serves as His selfless example to which each of His disciples (every Christian) is called to follow (Luke 9:23). Yet Jesus never requires His disciples to journey down a path which He Himself has not already journeyed. His divine strength is always freely extended to those who would allow their trust in Him to deepen and their love for Him to grow – evidenced by our obedience to His commands / teachings (Ephesians 3:16-19 NLT). As the Apostle Paul would later share, it is ultimately our genuine love for Christ that “compels (drives) us” (2 Corinthians 4:14a) to go “a little farther” – to dive even deeper into the rich waters of a life journey with Jesus! But be forewarned - the enemy of our soul will fight us in every way he can to prevent us from going that extra “stone’s throw” with Jesus. We see this take place with Jesus’ disciples who failed to follow Jesus’ assignment to “stay, watch and pray” while He “went a little farther away” by Himself to pray. Upon each of the three times that Jesus returned to His disciples from praying, He found them “asleep at their post” (read Mark 14:37-41)! Now before you and I cast our criticism upon these disciples for their negligence (Luke 6:41-42), let us first examine our own lives for examples where we have failed to go “a little father” with Jesus in a task / assignment which He presented to us. Perhaps it was failing to extend forgiveness to that co-worker who wronged you or that unwillingness to pursue reconciliation in a broken relationship with a family member / friend; or maybe it was when you refused His Spirit’s leading you to donate to a needy kingdom mission or share an extra offering for a special timely cause; or maybe it was when you disobeyed His direction to spend more time in His Word than in front of the TV. No matter the unlimited examples which may exist, I am certain that we can all find times in our own life journey when we failed to go “a little farther” with Him, just as these disciple did in the Garden at Gethsemane! Maybe those failing moments have led you into a season of life where you feel like your soul is in a place of darkness and confusion, much like the disciples must have felt when they were suddenly awaken from their untimely ‘cat napping’ to find Jesus being arrested (Mark 14:41-50). Maybe you feel as if your failings have resulted in all of your divinus momentos (divine moments) of usefulness for God being spent / forfeited. Listen closely – these are but lies whispered to us by the enemy’s deceitful lips (John 8:44). Know that you and I can praise our Lord Jesus Christ for our sinful shortcomings need not define nor do they need to derail our future journeys with our Lord. Out of His grace, Christ offers us His divine forgiveness for our sins – for the many times we have failed to go “a little further” with Him (Ephesians 1:6-8 ESV)! The disciples unquestionably failed Jesus through their sinful slumber at Gethsemane, and upon awaking to the prophetic events of Jesus’ arrest, they all would run away in fear for their lives (Mark 14:50). Yet these same disciples, after Jesus’ resurrection and Pentecost, would later return to Him to pursue an incredible life journey that would see them be established as the vital building pillars for Christ’s new church (His body / His people; Matthew 16:18). One closing thought – like with the disciples with Jesus at Gethsemane, we often have a short window of time to which we can obediently respond to the Lord’s call to go “a little farther” with Him - whether that be in some ministry service /task or with some aspect of our Christian character. To this point the Apostle Paul shares, “Be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded (1 Thessalonians 5:6 NLT) … make sure that you don't get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing!” (Romans 13:11-12 The Message) As His 21st Century disciples, we must all stay spiritually awake and alert to whatever God asks of us in our life journey ahead so that we too will have His divine strength (Philippians 4:13) whenever He invites us to go “a little farther” with Him! …Selah! Today's Spirit-led video is a beautiful witness to the redeeming power of faith in the life of a believer. The song the led me to share is by CCM artists Kutless and can be viewed by clicking on its title “What Faith Can Do”