He said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me." And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will." And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. (See Matt. 26:36-56 and Isaiah 53, for full text)
He Found Them Sleeping
Knowing you are about to suffer is an awful feeling. Sometimes the anticipation can come close to the experience itself. Here in the garden, Jesus is brought to his knees in prayer, burdened by what awaits him tomorrow. Were these dreadful thoughts familiar? How long had he seen this day coming? This, after all, was why he came, but how does he prepare on this night before? He asks his Father for an alternate plan.
“Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” Here our Lord’s humanity surfaces. No special power is granted. He must suffer as one of us, overwhelmed by his own sorrow, and eventually stained by his own blood. Once again, he yields his will to the Father’s.
Smitten by grief, Jesus asks his friends for one night of support: “Watch with me.” He wants them to stay awake, to be with him and pray. His request was one they could fulfill, were it not for the natural temptation of sleep. They can’t help but doze off as they try to hold their post. Did they not sense the gravity of the situation and make every attempt to keep their eyes open? Was there not even one disciple capable of having his back? What a precious moment it could have been, yet Jesus found them sleeping.
As we re-live holy week, coming to this night before his crucifixion, are we moved by Jesus’ sorrow? Have we stopped long enough to pray --to come along side -- to enter into this moment with him? Are we watching, or are we sleeping? It’s hard to pull an all-nighter, but if ever there was a night to take down the coffee...
Tomorrow, Jesus will carry his cross. Tonight, he thinks about it. Don’t be lulled to sleep and let another moment pass you by. Wake up, disciple of Christ! Watch. Pray. Share in the Savior’s sorrow so you can share in his glory, for tomorrow he will carry our sorrows, and pay for our sins. All of them!
Prayer: Father, we pray for an awakening in our hearts to the precious work of your Son, Jesus, who asked for little, and gave so much. Fill us with your Holy Spirit, so that we may share in, not sleep through, the sufferings of our Savior. Lord Jesus, find us watching. Amen.
- Jeff Neuenschwander
Lead Pastor, Central Community Church