by Santosh Poonen
An interesting story is recorded in Mark Chapter 14…
The disciples have been committed members of Jesus’ “Church” for three-and-a-half years at this point. They even celebrate their commitment to Him and to one another by partaking together of “The Lord’s Table,” and close their “church service” with a hymn (v22-26). Peter and the other disciples then openly profess their commitment to Jesus by saying that they will stick together with Him ’til death do them part (v31). Sounds like the ideal church fellowship doesn’t it? – commitment, communion, and even apparent self-denying love and unity!
But, Jesus is troubled in His soul, so He goes off to pray privately (v34). What ensues is the greatest spiritual prayer battle that’s ever been fought. So intense, in fact, that the sweat oozes as blood out of Jesus’ body, and an angel has to come from heaven to strengthen Him (Luke 22:43-44).
Meanwhile, a few yards away, the disciples who have been entrusted to “keep watch,” fall asleep. Jesus returns an hour later and wakes them, asking them to keep watching and praying while He continues His spiritual battle. But, they fall asleep again. Again Jesus returns to find them heavy-eyed, and now they’re embarrassed (v40). You’d think this would have shaken the sleep out of them, but no! A third time Jesus returns and finds that they’re still asleep.
Immediately after that, Jesus is captured, and His disciples desert Him and flee in a panic (v50).
Isn’t it amazing that such a strong spirit of coziness could come over the disciples that they were oblivious to the spiritual battle going on around them despite so many warnings from Jesus Himself? And, that despite their best intentions (“willing spirits”) to stand by their Lord, they all had “weak stomachs” and ran away?
This spirit of coziness is one of the Devil’s best weapons even today, especially against a growing, united church. I think of it like Carbon Monoxide – a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas which when undetected, results in a slow, lethargic death. The only protection against this gas is a Carbon Monoxide Detector.
The Spiritual Coziness Detector that Jesus gave us is to watch and pray so that we do not enter into temptation (v38).
What things should we watch for, then, which would generate a spirit of coziness?:
• Things which please the body – such as, the love of money, the constant desire for physical comfort, gluttony for rich food, the lust for that next new gadget that’s advertized, etc., instead of seeking God’s Kingdom first.
• Things which appease the soul – such as, a love for movies, television programs, sports, music, business, etc., more than God’s Word and the work of building His Church.
And what should we pray for, to avoid the spirit of coziness?:
• That we never assume that we are spiritual just because there are spiritual people around us in the church.
• That our inner devotion to God is always greater than that which is visible outwardly.
Watching and praying in this way will preserve our individual lives, our families, and our church. Then Jesus will be glorified in us!
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