My Journal for Today: Reading the parallel accounts of this episode in the Passion of Christ (besides Matt. 26: 36 – 46, see Mark 14: 32 – 42 and Luke 22: 39 – 46), one is taken (or at least I am) by the very human side of the God-man, Jesus, Who understandably, being fully God and completely aware of what was about to transpire, prayed so intensely in the Garden for “this cup” of horror to be lifted from Him. And then to come out during His prayer vigil in Gethsemane to find his close inner circle of friends had ignored His request to “watch and pray” with Him; … well, even though our Lord had divine compassion for His disciples, in his humanity, it had to have been disappointing to our Lord.
Most certainly the men had to have been fatigued and fearful; and perhaps they simply were overwhelmed with Jesus’ charge to be vigilant with Him in prayer as He went, merely a stone’s throw away from them, to pray Himself. But I have a different take on this, especially since not one of these three close confidants was able to do what Jesus did … and that is to pray intensely about what Jesus had told them was his last night on this earth. I believe that the Holy Spirit came upon them with the spiritual “drug” of sleep to later show them, from their own experience, how easy it is, in our humanity, to lose our vigilance in the face of Jesus’ charge to discipleship (as in Luke 9: 23), … i.e., to deny self, take up His cross, and follow Him.
And they must’ve learned their lesson from this and Jesus’ deeply intense battle in the Garden, because Matthew, Mark, and Luke, none of these authors of the three synoptic gospels were there in the garden and were able to write the parallel accounts of this episode from first-hand account. So, today’s hightlight passage, which spells out this account of Jesus’ supplication to His father, so spelled out with great clarity, most likely came from the descriptions from the accounts of these inner-circle witnesses, James, John, and Peter, the ones who had “blown it” by failing to watch and pray. And as we read these accounts, we, as believers, have the same advantage that the writers of these Gospel accounts had. The gospel writers were Spirit-inspired in their hearts/minds to write these accounts; and we have the same Holy Spirit in our hearts/minds to be able to read and be impacted by God’s transmission of this important encounter in the Garden before Jesus went to the cross.
Therefore, with the presence and the power of God’s Spirit in my heart, to some degree, I can empathize with the humanity of Christ which led Him to pray so intensely so as to have the cup of terror lifted from Him. And I can fully identify with the lack of vigilance of the three close friends of Jesus, who were not able to stand with Him in prayer for any concentrated period of time. How many times have I been unable to “watch and pray” for a concentrated period of time when I desire to deny myself and follow my Savior in prayer? Perhaps you’ve had the same challenge. If you read my confession from my journal entry yesterday, I had just such an episode of failing vigilance to watch/pray. So, I’m really tuned in to the humanity of the three disciples who “blew it.” Perhaps you do too.
That’s why I think that we all need to take the Apostle Paul’s lessons in 2nd Cor. 12: 9 to heart. There he had learned that in his own flesh, he was too weak to meet the challenges of the flesh and especially the onslaught of the enemy’s temptations. Paul had internalized that his (and, by extension, our) only hope to remain strong is to seek and receive the available strength provided by God’s Spirit through His grace, which is offered to any believer humble enough to receive it and use it in their lives. Jesus, in His supplication before God, the Father in the garden did it; and as I mature and grow in my relationship with my Lord, I pray, as I do below, that I can develop that humility to consume as much of God’s grace as will allow me to “watch and pray” with my Lord.
My Prayer Today: Lord, I follow you to the high ground of prayer in battle today. I may have blown it yesterday; but today I receive Your grace to be there for Your purpose. Give me the grace to remain alert … with You. Amen