Asleep in Gethsemane
“And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives” (Matt. 26:30). It is impossible to precisely know what was in the hearts of those apostles as they followed Him. After He had washed their feet in the upper room, He was troubled in spirit when He said, “One of you will betray Me” (John 13:21). Their first response was they were exceedingly sorrowful (Matt. 26:21). Emotions had to be so heavy as He led them to Gethsemane.
They may not have known where He was going, but Judas did. Jesus often went to this garden with them (John 18:2). He stopped and left eight of the apostles at one place, and then took Peter, James and John deeper into the garden. His words were, “Pray that you enter not into temptation” (Luke 22:40). Matthew described this moment in this way: “He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed…Stay here and watch with Me” (Matt. 26:38). How could their emotions not have been stirred by all that had happened!
“Watch.” Watch for what? Watch for the coming of the mob? Such could not be the case for the betrayal by Judas had to happen. It was His solemn plea with them to recognize the dangerous situation which faced them. Not a physical danger from the mob but watch lest they succumb to the temptations which lay before them. He then went a distance from them and prayed fervently to the Father.
What did they do? They went to sleep. It was not that they did not care, for Jesus said of them, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:40). Yet, we stand amazed at how all of this could happen. Satan was seeking to destroy them and their place in the coming kingdom, and they were asleep. They could not watch with Him even for one hour (Matt. 26:39). There was danger all around them. Temptation abounded, and they were asleep. Jesus needed them, and they were asleep in Gethsemane.
It is possible that we are doing the same in our lives. Think of our children. How much time do we actually watch and pray for them in the world in which they live? As the years come, we will grieve for failing to equip them, but then it is too late. Parents, you are in your “Gethsemane.” Watch and pray!
Is it possible that we are asleep in our personal “Gethsemane”? Are you watching and soberly considering how the temptations around you pose such a danger? Where are your weaknesses, and what are you doing to become stronger? If you cannot see them, remember Paul’s words that those who think they will stand should take heed (1 Cor. 10:12). God help us to all watch for our souls and for the souls of those around us. God help us to never sleep in Gethsemane.