Asleep On The Battlefield


Then He returned to His disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Simon,’ He said to Peter, ‘are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ Once more He went away and prayed the same thing.

When He came back, He again found them sleeping because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to Him. Returning the third time, He said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!’ (Mark 14: 37-42).

Agitated! You can feel it in His words and actions. Agonising prayer! Backwards and forwards to the sleeping disciples! Rebuke and warning! All the signs of someone who was restless and agitated, anticipating something and desperately wanting His disciples to be in it with Him.

And the disciples? They were oblivious to the impending tragedy that was about to overtake their Master and them with Him. Despite His rebukes and His warnings, they slept on. Not even the sound of His agonised cries in the silence of the garden could disturb their sleep. They were finished, exhausted beyond caring. O, they had felt His mood alright. They were aware that something was up, but somehow they just could not rouse themselves to be a part of it. They were beyond weary.  

Peter was the one who got the rebuke. He was always out front, leading both by example and by his big mouth. He should have taken the lead in setting up a watch so that Jesus could engage His Father in prayer knowing that His disciples were guardingHis back. He didn’t want Judas sneaking up on them and taking them all prisoner. It was His fight this time, and He had to do it alone.

There is a plaintive note in Jesus’ words to Peter. ‘Couldn’t you keep watch for me for just one hour?’ But Peter didn’t understand what he was to watch for. Had Jesus explained to them that Judas was about to break in on their company and arrest Him? Perhaps He wanted them to alert Him when they caught the first glimpse of the arresting mob in the garden – not that they came quietly, it seems.

Jesus had no intention of escaping into the darkness. He could have, but He didn’t. He could have slipped away long before the mob arrived. He knew what Judas was up to. He knew they would find Him there. Unlike any other villain who was always on the run, Jesus anticipated His arrest and steeled Himself for the moment. That’s what His prayer was all about.

Was He going to cringe and fight, or was He going to submit to the injustice and cruelty He knew was coming, in obedience to His Father? This was the moment for which all of the angelic hosts had waited; the moment towards which all of human history had pointed. He had to decide. Would He go through with it as a true son, or would He flinch and fail? His own destiny and the destiny of the human race hung on the next few hours. And the disciples slept!

All the lessons of His earthly life as a human being and the Son of God, a role He had never played until the moment when He burst in on human history, prepared Him for this moment. Unlike His disciples and as weary as He must have been as well, He could not sleep. He understood how vital it was to be fortified with the awareness of His Father’s presence and approval. Just as He was prepared for the conflict in the wilderness, so now He must be ready for the greatest conflict of all. Would He submit like a son or would He resist like a rebel?

And the disciples? They were asleep and so unprepared! Instead of catching the spirit of their Master and praying for strength to trust the Father in their time of testing, they were asleep on the battlefield. They were not even aware that there was an impending battle, for them as well as for their Master. They drowsed away the moments when they should have been praying.

How often we are also caught unawares because we are unprepared for our moment!  The tests are sprung on us unawares. God gives us opportunity, time after time, to trust Him in the ups and downs of life. Then there comes the storm, the one big, violent upheaval in our lives for which the many small tests should have prepared us. Have we learned our lessons well?

Jesus said, ‘Be alert! Keep watch!’ For what? For the unguarded moments when Satan slips in to trip us up. Don’t ever sleep on the battlefield. The enemy never sleeps!

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith . . . (1 Peter 5: 8-9a)

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my new book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (copyright 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

Available on in paperback, e-book or kindle version or order directly from the publisher at

Check out my Blog site –


Categories: Bible Study Tags: , , , ,

Luella Campbell

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>