Asleep on Watch
Mark 14:32 -42
It’s crazy, but one of the ways that we handle a crisis that we have no clue how to deal with is to fall sound asleep. The unresolved tension, confusion, and imminent danger should move us to alert vigilance, but often, like the ostriches I saw in Kenya, we stick our head in the sand and sleep.
When Jesus’ disciples arrived at Gethsemane with him, more than ever he needed them to be wide awake in prayer. Instead, the three in his innermost circle, who he directly singled out to be close to him, fell fast asleep.
“And coming to a place called Gethsemane, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ Then he took Peter, James, and John with him and began to be overwhelmed and distressed. ‘My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death,’ he said to them, ‘Remain here and be alert!’
He went on a little farther and fell on the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘Everything is possible for you. Remove this cup from me but not what I’m desiring but what you desire.’ Then he returned to Peter, James, and John and found them sleeping.
He said to Peter, ‘Simon, you’re sleeping. Aren’t you strong enough to be watchful for one hour? Wake up and pray so that you will not come into temptation. The spirit is eager, but the flesh is weak.’ Again he went away and prayed the same words, and again he returned and found them sleeping for their eyes were heavy and they didn’t know what to say to him. A third time he returned to them and said, ‘Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up! Let’s go! Here comes my betrayer!’” Mark 14:32-42
Peter, James, and John slept through the most agonizing time of prayer in history—a prayer where we hear the Son of God open up and lay naked his hidden thoughts and emotions to his Father. If ever we wonder whether or not we can open up to our Father in Heaven, Jesus’ Gethsemane prayer should forever remove any doubt about honest communication with God, the I AM.
Before creation God the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit decided on their central plot. God would create humans. They would rebel against him and face the penalty of death. Totally based in his mercy, God would provide a great male savior who would give his life so that they could be forgiven. He would then rise from the dead and anyone who would believe and accept God’s gift of merciful forgiveness based solely in the death of his Son would receive eternal life.
This redemptive, gracious plan was not suddenly adopted as plan B after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. It was and is the only plan, and it is so important that even when Jesus in his humanity asked his Father to take the cross away, God rejected the request. God is omnipotent. He can do anything as Jesus pointed out, but he could not remove the coming hours of rejection and death. And that’s because the beauty, power, and truth of forgiveness based solely in the divine will and the Trinity’s execution of their plan in the historical events of the cross and the resurrection outweigh even the agony of Jesus in the garden. When I don’t understand why God doesn’t use his power to deliver me from impossible times, I need to follow Jesus in faith and say with him, “Thy will be done.”
LORD, I need your Spirit to keep me wide awake to the preciousness of the redemptive Story and fearful enough of the danger in temptation to not fall asleep when I need to be praying. Help me follow your Son’s example in honestly pouring out to you what’s going on inside.
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