Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Lesson 56: Waiting For Him

Brief 4-to-5 Minute Teaching Lesson

Why? and What is the Purpose? in My Life SERIES

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Lesson 56 of the Discipleship Making process.

As the Last Supper drew to close Jesus prayed for His disciples and then blessed the fourth cup of wine. This fourth cup of wine, the Cup of Elijah, is the culmination of the Passover meal and for every Israelite points forward to the future fulfillment of all of God’s promises. It is also called the Cup of Praise or Hope and refers specifically to Exodus 6:8. For fifteen centuries the Israelites had been observing this ritual and now the Lord’s Passover was literally being fulfilled before the disciple’s eyes.

As the men drank the cup they ended by singing the Hallel (Psalm 113-118). They had no idea that what they were singing would come to pass within a matter of hours (read the last fifteen verses of Psalm 118:14-29).

When they finished singing the hymn they walked out into the night. Jesus and the disciples exited the city through the nearby Essene Gate. They descended the steep slope down into the Valley of Ben Hinnom. The short journey terminated at a grove of olive trees known as … Gethsemane, “the oil press.”

Read: Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42, Luke 22:39-46

It was here, at Gethsemane, that Jesus told eight of His disciples to remain until He had prayed. From His interaction with the disciples we can learn some lessons about waiting for our Lord to do something.

Sometimes it is boring having to wait on Him. We want released into ministry but it doesn’t happen. We pray for something and it seems like He doesn’t answer. We wait for His direction but it doesn’t come. Why do we have to wait? The hours roll by. What’s the hold up?”

The disciples were no different than we are, so Jesus gave them some instructions on what to do while they were waiting for Him. He began by telling the disciples to sit. “Sit here until I have prayed.” Sitting denotes a restful state. It is not working and it is not sleeping. It is the position of readiness for another action. We, as Christians would do well to remember that the Lord is going before us to make the way. The book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus, our High Priest, “lives to make intercession for us,” (Hebrews 7:25). And for those of us who do wait for the Lord, God promises they “will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary,” (Isaiah 40:31).

Jesus accompanied by Peter, James and John separated themselves from the larger group by walking a short distance into the grove of trees to the south. After entering the grove He told those three disciples to remain there and keep watch. The second instruction we should adhere to is to remain watchful while waiting for Him.

There is a tendency for us to become complacent in our lives, never expecting Jesus to show up in any significant way. Yet He will! The writer of Hebrews puts it this way: “And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises,” (Hebrews 6:11-12). When Jesus returned He found Peter, James and John asleep and rebuked them for it.

The third thing we are to do is to add prayer to our watching. Jesus said, “Keep watching and praying.” In the garden that night, Jesus sought His Father’s will. And that is the kind of praying we should be doing. Some call this “praying in the Spirit”. The Apostle Paul alluded to this in his epistle to the Romans (Romans 8:26-27).

Many times, we as Christians engage in prayer but aren’t really expecting God to respond, so we just go ahead and do what we were already planning to do. Jesus admonished the disciples to watch and pray so they wouldn’t fall into temptation. The reason we are to remain awake and alert is to see what the Lord’s reply will be.

Jesus also prayed three times to the Father regarding the same issue . . . could what He was preparing to go through be done another way? Jesus was a man of faith. He was use to having His prayers answered. He believed that he would receive what He asked for. Concerning prayer, Christians should remember that when we ask God for something we are to believe we have received our request (Mark 11:24).

Again Jesus returned and found the three disciples asleep so He gave them another instruction. “Rise and pray.” The fourth thing we can learn about waiting for the Lord is that when we become weary we should rise or stand to our feet while we pray. This demonstrates our preparedness to act on whatever the Lord tells us to do.

As the disciples prepared to rise Jesus issued His final instruction, “Arise, let us be going”. The last thing we learn about waiting on the Lord is that once He instructs us on what to do or what direction to take, as Christians we should immediately do what He says.

The point of the lesson is that waiting for the Lord to act involves active participation:
  • It requires us to be restful, not busy and not sleeping.
  • It requires us to be watchful.
  • It requires us to be prayerful, seeking God’s will.
  • It requires us to be prepared to act.
  • It requires us to immediately respond to Him.

With that, allow me to leave you with this question to consider, along with a little homework assignment until the next lesson:

How does the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) compare with what Jesus taught His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane that night?

And the homework assignment:

Use this outline the next time you are waiting for the Lord to do something.

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