2022 Lenten Devotional
Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me. Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So, he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
I love to sleep. I mean; I treat it like a hobby. I look forward to a Sunday afternoon nap like no one I know and if I am really lucky, it will be raining. Heaven help the person who prevents me from taking a rainy Sunday afternoon nap! Napping can rejuvenate me, but it is also my “go to” stress reliever. Overwhelmed - take a nap. Sad - take a nap. Avoiding conflict – take a nap. You get the idea.
However, I had always judged the disciples harshly for falling asleep. Jesus made a simple request. Stay awake and pray. Could they not see that Jesus needed them? How did they not understand their time with him was limited? It seemed so selfish.
Luke’s version is slightly different. In chapter 22 of Luke’s gospel, verse 45 says “When He rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow.” Exhausted from sorrow…
When my precious mother was dying, I fought sleep so hard! I was so exhausted from that week we spent in the hospital. Even though it was evident she was not going to recover, I knew she would leave me if I fell asleep. I prayed and prayed and prayed but sleep finally won. I awoke to find her hospice nurse listening for a heartbeat.
So maybe the disciples weren’t being selfish. Maybe that night in the garden, they were physically unable to carry the emotional load. If they were able to comprehend Jesus’ words, they knew it was about to get really bad. Perhaps they were like me and needed a brief escape.
Oh, our God is so good and forgiving! He knows our needs. We cannot forget our obligation to obey Him. Keep watch and Pray. Far too often I am found “asleep”.
Please help us to keep watch and pray. Thank you for loving us even when we fall short. Amen.