His Scattered Sheep / Mark 14:26–52 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Friday April 10th 2020 / Good Friday Holy Week / Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Friday April 10th 2020: Good Friday the Season of Lent in Holy Week / Mark 14:26–52 "His Scattered Sheep"
And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter said to Him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” But he said emphatically, “If I must die with You, I will not deny You.” And they all said the same.
And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And He said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And He took with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And He said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” And going a little farther, He fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Remove this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.” And He came and found them sleeping, and He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And again He went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer Him. And He came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize Him and lead Him away under guard.” And when he came, he went up to Him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed Him. And they laid hands on Him and seized Him. But one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture Me? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.” And they all left Him and fled.
And a young man followed Him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Scattered, they had been practically inseparable for three years and now they were scattered. As Thomas ran into the night away from the garden of Gethsemane in the darkness did the words he said before they ventured near Jerusalem again at the request of Mary and Martha Lazarus’ sisters ring in his ears, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” As Peter ran did the words he had said that very night ring in his ears as he too ran into the darkness away from Jesus, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” Scattered, separated, broken apart, wasn’t that their brother Judas with the officers from the Temple? When Judas left the Supper was that where he went, to the Temple? These twelve who had been so close, who had grown to trust and look out for each other now on the run with their Lord bound and marched off to trial and what, death? They did not know but they must have feared it. Would Jesus escape like the other times when people tried to throw Him off a cliff or picked up stones to stone Him for His teachings? What would Jesus think about their running off? He didn’t much like it when Peter briefly attempted to make a stand cutting off the high priest's servant’s ear. What were they all supposed to do? Blood beating in their ears, hearts beating in their chests, lungs heaving with heavy breath, feet pounding on the ground, the darkness closing in as the world grew quiet around them. Perhaps Jesus’ own words from that night recorded by St. Mark in his Gospel rang in their ears as they scattered, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’”
Let’s track back for a moment. The Gospel of St. Mark tells what happened when Jesus was arrested in this way: “Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize Him and lead Him away under guard.” And when [Judas] came, he went up to [Jesus] at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed Him. And they laid hands on [Jesus] and seized Him. But one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture Me? Day after day I was with you in the Temple teaching, and you did not seize Me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.” And they all left [Jesus] and fled. And a young man followed [Jesus], with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And [the officers from the Temple] seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.”
Over the years many students and teachers of Scripture have believed that St. Mark was that young man who at first tried to follow Jesus after He was arrested only to quickly run away naked. Mark would latter travel with St. Peter working as an evangelist doing missionary work around the Mediterranean Sea finally settling in Alexandria Egypt. If the young man was not St. Mark it might as well have been me or you for that matter. We all like to think that we will be better under pressure than the next person like Peter thought when he said “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” But truly we are all in danger of running away naked into the night away from our Saviour out of fear or distress.
We are all under a great deal of distress right now. And we are all scattered, separated, broken apart. Now is the time to be strong in our faith and yet as waves of fear and worry and anxiety wash over us in the midst of this pandemic the temptation to run from our faith can press all the harder against us. Take to heart Jesus’ advice in the Garden to His disciples, “pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Our weak flesh our willing spirit needs comfort more than anything else in this time of isolation. We need to know that our Good Shepherd is there guiding us even while we walk, no! even though we feel as though we are running, through the valley of the shadow of death.
We have been sharing our sermons on line for years and right now these sermons are going on-line as videos too, but not all of you are on-line, some of you have no e-mail address and will read this in a printed letter arriving by mail at your house. I know that there will be those of you who will come across this on-line that I have never met in person and this next part is not really for you. It is for all those dear souls who would normally be here on Good Friday gathered to hear and reflect on the Passion of our Lord. For all of you … I miss you. It hurts to be scattered, separated, and broken apart by fear and danger. It’s painful to know that I won’t see you on Easter Sunday either, that you will not be able to be here in person together to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord.
The danger that threatened the disciples that night was serious and real, their lives where in jeopardy, the threat that we face today is real lives are in jeopardy now too. The disciples faced death not because of the threat of a virus but rather because the chief priests and the ruling elite, the Sadducees and Pharisees, and many in the legislative body of the Jewish Sanhedrin believed Jesus to be an evil threat. We don’t face that same degree of persecution right here, right now, although we do have brothers and sisters in Christ in the world today that do face this same kind of danger. And this kind of danger can come to us too. One of the dangers we face right now as Christians is begin cut off from each other. It is great that there are those who can keep some kind of connection going on-line, but like I said not everyone has that. Dear ones think of the people in your life, your friends and family and those you have known along the way in your life. If you have not heard from them, if you know they have no internet or ability to be in contact with each other on-line reach out to them, phone them, write them a letter, send them a card reach out to them for they are also scattered, separated, and broken apart. Remember too that you have fellow Christians who live scattered, separated, and broken apart from regularly coming to the Church all year round, there are those who are shut in and then there are those who stay away for other reasons. Now is a time for forgiveness and reconciliation with each other, now is the time for turning to Christ Jesus and His love and compassion and mercy.
In fact it was the love and compassion and mercy for His disciples, for you for all people that drove Him to empty Himself, to humble Himself “by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” To take all the scorn and chastisement that belonged to us, all the pain and sorrow and sin upon Himself in our place, “Therefore,” as St. Paul says, “God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” On a day like today, we remember this and we bend the knee, we confess Jesus to be Lord knowing that when The Last Day comes it won’t just be us it will be all people, from all time and all places who will confess Jesus and bow the knee: Many with joy and happiness and some with anger and sudden sinking despair. But That Day is not this day and so we His scattered people, His scattered sheep, remember Jesus, we remember His suffering and pain on our behalf, His willingness to face death and His love for us unto the end. We remember how He finished this day, how He finished death by His death.
When Jesus looked down from the cross He saw St. John and His mother the Virgin Mary, He may also have seen a couple other close acquaintances who were there standing at a distance with the hostile crowd and Roman soldiers. He did not see Peter or Thomas or any of the other disciples, He didn’t see Judas either, but it’s important to remember that Jesus our Good Shepherd died, He allowed Himself to be struck down unto death, so that we would not all be left scattered, separated, and broken apart forever. Apart from Judas who did not wait for the Lord Jesus and His forgiveness the rest of the twelve eventually made their way back to the last place they were all together before their walk through the Kidron Valley down from Jerusalem and over to the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane and Jesus’ arrest under cover of darkness; they made their way to back to the upper room where they had celebrated Holy Communion together with Christ Jesus the night before Jesus’ crucifixion. Today you are scattered, separated, and broken apart but this will not last forever. You will find your way back here to Mount Olive Lutheran Church and the Altar Rail, you will confess Jesus to be Lord together and you will bend the knee and receive Holy Communion from Him by the hand of your pastors: The same body and blood that hung on the cross for you and for the World. Like the Virgin Mary and St. John you might come to the foot of Christ Jesus in dribs and drabs at first, just a couple here and a couple there as we are able, but then the day will come when you will be free of your isolation, free to congregate together and in that day don’t be far off, don’t remain scattered, separated, and broken apart; come together even if it has been a long time, even if you were isolated from each other before this pandemic, and remember also that you are joined together in your faith in Christ Jesus, even while you are physically isolated from each other. Remember what St. Paul says when he says though we are many, we “are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” Scattered, separated, and broken apart as we are this is still true. The bleeding compassionate and merciful steadfast love of Christ sustain you at this time, as we yearn to be together both here and now and in The End with all the saints who have gone on before us in faith. Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 John 11:16
 Mark 14:27–29
 John 18:10
 Mark 14:27
 Mark 14:43–52
 Philippians 2:7–11
 Romans 12:5