Jesus’ admonishment to the disciples in the garden of Gethsemane is intriguing. “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14: 38) NKJV
I have always felt just a tiny bit sorry for the disciples. They fell asleep. They simply couldn’t stay awake. It could have been me.
They had no idea of the magnitude of events ahead, or the spiritual war in progress. As Jesus suffered in deep anguish, His sweat was like drops of blood. But, despite the dramatic scene, the disciples couldn’t keep their eyes open. Jesus was less concerned about their “fleshly” need for sleep than their blind desperation for spiritual stamina.
“…Pray, lest you enter into temptation.”
1. Jesus cared about their spiritual strength above their physical need.
2. Prayer was significant to their ability to resist the temptation that Jesus knew was coming.
3. In spite of being in the midst of Christ’s greatest need, He understood theirs.
At the hour when Christ needed His friends the most, they were all fire but no substance. They had willing intentions, but the spiritual foundation had not been fortified.
“Simon, Simon,” Jesus told him earlier that night, “Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” Lk. 22:31-32. (NKJV)
Peter denied his Master in spite of his blustery promises to never forsake Him.
But as always, there is so much more to the story. Jesus anticipated Simon’s return to Him and his role in strengthening his brothers.
In spite of the dismal showing of the disciples, they became men strong in faith, Christian leaders that turned the world upside down.
In our darkest hour, when exhaustion is deep, emotions frayed, and spirits depleted, like the story of the sleepy disciples our deepest need will always be spiritual. Satan will not be a gentleman no matter how badly we need a break from our difficulties. Like a lion after the weakest prey, he will strike. When we feel we haven’t time to nurture ourselves spiritually that is when it is most essential.
Christ is the final victor.