Grace For The Journey
In Matthew 26:38-46, we find the record of Christ’s toil and anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane. The cross was just hours away, and our Lord’s humanity wrestled with all that trial would require. Gethsemane is one of the most majestic and yet mysterious scenes in the entire life of our Lord.
In the midst of this struggle, there is something very unusual and almost unbelievable. In the midst of His agonizing with the Father Jesus pauses to check on the three disciples He had brought with Him. Verse 40 tells us He asked Peter, “Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What? Could you not watch with Me one hour?” When we read this question that the Lord asks it ought to grasp our attention rouse us from our slumbering spiritual state.
As we examine this incident in the Garden of Gethsemane, we are reminded of three truths to which we all need to be awakened. Notice first of all, we need to wake up and hear:
1) THE LORD’S INVITATION TO US.
Verse 38 says, “Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: stay here and watch with Me.
The eternal Son of God, all-powerful and self-sufficient, wanted in this most critical moment, to be with His beloved disciples. He invited them to “stay” with Him, and to “watch” with Him.
In much the same way, the Lord Jesus invites us into His presence, and asks us to wait and watch with Him. As we look at verse 38, we notice a couple of things about this invitation. First of all this is an invitation to . . .
To Sit With Him.
Notice in verse 38, the word “stay.” Jesus wanted these disciples to “wait” with Him. The word “stay” is translated from a Greek word that means “to remain, or to dwell.” The word speaks of staying and waiting for an extended period of time. The Lord asked these men to stay and to wait with Him. He wasn’t asking for any action or work or labor on their part. He just wanted them to sit down, be still, and stay with Him.
Of all the adjectives that could be used to describe our lives, stillness is probably not on the list. If we have to wait and be still, it usually aggravates and irritates us because we are sure there are other things we could be doing.
The truth we draw from this text, is that as we are running around, busying ourselves with what we consider the “important” things of life, the Lord Jesus invites us to come away with Him, settle down, sit down, and just “wait” and stay in His presence.
Before He sent them out to minister He called them to Himself. Verse 14 says, “And He ordained twelve, that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach.” We too should spend time with Him before we attempt to minister or do His work. We like a fast-food Christianity.
We want a quick conversation,
But what He is offering
Is a quiet communion.
He invites us to sit down, stop our running about, and spend time with Him.
Mary and Martha are a good illustration of what Jesus is getting at. What Martha was doing wasn’t wrong it just wasn’t the best. Mary chose the good part.
As we look at this invitation in verse 38, we see not only that this is an invitation to sit with Jesus, it also is an invitation . . .
To Share With Him.
Notice the two special words Jesus finishes He statement in verse 38, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death. Stay and watch with Me.” That night in the garden, God the Father and God the Son were talking among themselves. The Lord Jesus was engaged in earnest prayer. He certainly did not need the disciples to help Him. He could do this on His own. Don’t miss the fact that He invited them to share with Him in this historic and heavenly conversation.
Did not require
He requested it.
He invited them to share with Him.
Unfortunately, far too often we think of Christ only in terms of what He has done for us, or what we are doing for Him. What we fail to consider are the many glorious things He wants us to do with Him. Like the disciples that night, the Lord invites us to share with Him in times of meditation and prayer. He calls to us to take time to share with Him in private and personal times of retreat and communion.
We need to be awakened and hear the Lord’s invitation to us, but notice secondly that we need to wake up and hear . . .
2) THE LORD’S INDICTMENT OF US.
After the Lord asked His disciples to wait with Him, verse 39 tells us that He went on a little further from them, and fell down and began to pray. In the midst of His of prayer, He comes back to where the disciples were, and where in verse 40 it says, “Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping and said to Peter, “What? Could you not watch with Me one hour?” In light of where they were, and Who they were with, it seems unbelievable that they fell asleep! The Lord seemed surprised as well, and He ask them, “What, could you not watch with Me for one hour?”
Notice a couple of things this question implies. This question points to the fact that . . .
They Were Unaware.
They were asleep that night in the garden. Christ asked them if it was so hard to just stay awake with Him for one hour. This was not just any other night. Within minutes, the Roman guards led by traitorous Judas would come and arrest the Lord, taking Him to His eventual death on the cross. Surely, had the disciples truly realized the significance of that night, they would have been able to combat their fatigue and waited alertly with their Lord.
Shortly after the 1912 election, new President Woodrow Wilson went to visit one of his elderly aunts. She asked him what he had been doing lately. He said, “Well, I was just elected president.” She said, “That’s nice, president of what?” He said, “The United States.” She gave him a strange look and said, “Don’t be silly.” Like the sleeping disciples, many of us are ignorantly unaware of the importance of where we are, and Who it is we serve.
This indictment question not only pointed to the fact that they were unaware, but notice also further that . . .
They Were Unavailable.
In verse 39, the Lord is on His face, agonizing before His Father. For some reason, He pauses in His prayer, and comes to the disciples, only to find them unavailable.
They were unavailable
Because they were unawake.
There is a third truth we draw from this passage. We need to wake up to the Lord’s invitation to us, and the Lord’s indictment of us, but notice also lastly that we need to awaken to . . .
3) THE LORD’S INSTRUCTION FOR US.
Like the Great Physician He is, the Lord has a prescription for His sleepy disciples. Verse 41 says, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” The Lord invites to come apart and abide with Him in private communion. He indicts His disciples for being sleepy when they should have been awake and available. He then instructs them on how to keep their eyes open and hearts close to Him.
Notice a couple of truths from the instructions of verse 41 . . .
We Need to Be Cautious.
The Lord told Peter and the others to “watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.”
If they had been more in tune to the moment,
And had joined their Lord in watching and praying,
They would have been much less likely
To have failed Him by falling asleep.
The word “watch” speaks of being awake and alert. It means “to be on guard and aware of your surroundings.”
We often act as if there are
No dangers and no entrapments.
The Lord’s words to His blurry-eyed disciples are of great value in our day.
We must spend less time playing and more time praying.
We must quit being so casual, and start being more cautious.
We must heed the words of1 Peter 5:8 which tells us, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”
The Lord’s instructions in verse 41, remind us not only that we need to be cautious, but also that . . .
We Need to Be Conscious.
The Lord told His disciples to watch and pray. Then He added this statement. He said, “…the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” The Lord was aware of something the disciples had not realized. I am sure their desire was to be with the Lord, to watch with Him, to wait with Him, and to pray with Him. That was their desire, but it was not what they actually did.
Their spiritual willingness was overpowered by a physical weakness. Their physical desires and needs were a stronger force in their lives than their spiritual desires.
We need to be conscious of what our Lord said.
As long as we are alive,
We will have to wage war with our flesh.
Our bodies will want to do that
Which is counterproductive to our spirit.
We must understand and recognize
That while our heart may have good intentions,
Our body will often have strong contentions.
The instructions of the Lord remind us to always be conscious of the fact that our spiritual desires are in a fight with our physical weaknesses.
May God help us to live righteously in this unrighteous world.
This is God’s Word …
This is Grace for your Journey …
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”