Wednesday, April 06, 2011

April 6, 2008 … Jesus’ Admonition In Gethsemane

Passage of the Day: Matthew 26: 40 – 41 … 40 Then He returned to His disciples and found them sleeping. "Could you men not keep watch with Me for one hour?" He asked Peter. 41 "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

PARALLEL SCRIPTURE: Mark 14: 37 - 38 Then He returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Simon," He said to Peter, "are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? 38Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."

PARALLEL SCRIPTURE: Luke 22: 45 - 46 When He rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, He found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 "Why are you sleeping?" He asked them. "Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation."

My Journal for Today: Today I have supplied not only the text from Matt. 26 concerning the failure of Jesus’ three comrades, but also the parallel versions of this incident in Mark 14 and Luke 22. In these passages (note: these were written by men who were not at the scene) we read of the obvious disappointment of Christ when He found the men, His inner circle of chosen disciples, sleeping at their charged post. And in this moment of confrontation, Jesus gives a warning to His disciples (and by God’s Spirit to all believers) about our vigilance and the avoidance of temptation.

I think we can all identify and empathize with the very human weakness and failure of Peter, James, and John to remain vigilant in prayer as Jesus had asked them to be. They were confused, frustrated, and tired men; and any one of these conditions can make any believer vulnerable to the temptation of our mortal, sin-ridden heart (again, always remembering Jer. 17: 9). In today’s life and culture, I certainly have trouble focusing on the discipline of vigilance and prayer in my devotional and/or worship life. How many times do we arrive at church on Sunday morning or for our daily devotional with our minds/hearts going in 40 directions because of all the events and demands that have occurred before we settle into corporate or personal worship? And because of it, the temptation to relent to the “tyranny of the urgent,” we can only have half-hearted worship with our Lord.

Just a couple of days ago (go back to my devotional journal entry for April 4) I wrote of my personal confession for having missed a prayer meeting at our church for which I had been committed to participate because I simply overslept. Like Jesus’ three companions – His friends – I fell prey to my own inept desires and temptations; and I failed to stand watch and pray the way I had desired to do. I think we’re all vulnerable to our flesh in this way; and that’s why this passage today has such personal relevance for me.

The Apostle Paul, using his own past failures to help believers identify with such failures, recognized our tendency to let our flesh dominate our vigilance when he penned Romans 7: 14 – 23 [please take the time to seek out, read, and meditate on this passage]. However, in verses 24 – 25 of Romans 7, as well as all of Romans 8, Paul triumphantly declares where Christians can ALWAYS find the strength and power to be vigilant and to become overcomers as was our Lord (read John 16: 33 and then 2nd Cor. 12: 9).

SCRIPTURE: John 16: 33 [Jesus] "I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

SCRIPTURE: 2nd Cor. 12: 9 But He [Jesus] said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.”

Yes, the same Holy Spirit, my indwelling Lord, the Third Person of the Trinity, Who allowed Jesus to be vigilant and strong, … to be the Overcomer of the world, … is the same Spirit Who resides in my heart (and yours, if you have received His saving and enabling grace). And all I have to do, as Paul wrote about in Romans 8, is to recognize and receive God’s grace, which, in turn, will allow my weak flesh and deceit-ridden heart to be able to deny self, and as Jesus also charge His disciples in Luke 9: 23, … to take up my Lord’s cross [yes, even where I am today], and to follow Him in prayer or into spiritual warfare, … allowing me to do what He challenged his three Disciples to do, … and that is to “watch and pray.” And as we read passages like 1st Cor. 10: 13 and Phil. 3: 13 – 14, we realize that we can do just that!

My Prayer Today: Praise You, Lord! Pour out Your grace, dear Jesus, especially when I wane in the flesh. Amen

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