Worldview Weekend"Watch and Pray" Matt. 26:36-46
If there were ever a time to be aware of the things that are going on around us it would be now. The sad reality is that many people go about their day as if nothing has changed. Could it be that at the hour we are needed most to stay awake we are falling asleep just as the inner circle of Jesus' disciples did? What can we learn from our Savior's Gethsemane instruction that speak loud and clear to us today?
We see in Matt. 26:36-46 a scripture that often focuses on the burden of Christ's prayer before His Father concerning the cup He must drink. Jesus brought his disciples to a place called Gethsemane. He takes James, John and Peter from the group to a place deeper within the garden. On the way His burden becomes more apparent as He comments, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death." His instruction to James, John and Peter is to "watch with me" as he moves a little further away to pray. What were they to watch? They were to be aware of all that was going on around them both temporally and spiritually.
So what happened? Jesus came back to them and found them asleep. Did they not know the seriousness of their situation? Jesus knowing what would happen now calls them to "watch and pray." These two words carry great responsibility. In no casual manner is Jesus emphatically telling them to remain alert, watchful and vigilant. In this watchfulness they were to humbly seek God accepting His ultimate will through prayer. You see Jesus knew what was about to happen and had even explained the same to His disciples. There was an angry mob that would stop at nothing to extract the Christ. This mob was without a doubt willingly awake and driven by their anger.
Examine further the reason Jesus gives for this instruction, adding that they should do so in order not to fall into temptation. This temptation was the coming adversity that they would face. Yes, Jesus was actually preparing them for what they might face in the future, the very near future. Jesus told them that "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." This is why they fell asleep. It was what the flesh wanted. We learn that the spirit within us wants to be obedient to those things spiritual but when we allow our physical needs to take priority we fail spiritually. Our love for Christ should drive us to willful obedience.
We then see Jesus return to prayer only to come back again and find the disciples sleeping. This time He leaves them to rest. It is becoming apparent that He will indeed go this road alone. One more time He returns to pray. When Jesus comes back the third time, He awakens them to say you will be able to "rest laterâ€¦ the hour is at hand, the Son of man is betrayed." It was in this wake that Judas would come, betray Him with a kiss and Jesus would be arrested. The slumber of the disciples left them unready for the most challenging 24 hrs they would face. Their reaction to the mob was clearly in the flesh as we see them fight and ultimately flee. They were not ready, temporally or spiritually. They were not ready for the spiritual battle that developed while they slept, succumbing to their physical needs
Jesus had warned His disciples to watch and pray. It was a call to be prepared mentally and spiritually. It was not a call to casual prayer, it was a call to spiritual preparedness. As we see, only Jesus knew how to handle the circumstances that ensued because He had prayed. It wasn't because His disciples were unable, they were simply unwilling. In times like these, will you not "watch and pray?"