32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”
35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that, if possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
37 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? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
39 Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.
41 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. 42 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer Mark 14:32-42

We can’t really blame the disciples for going to sleep while Jesus went off to pray. In spite of His many warnings, they didn’t know what lay up ahead for them. They had drunk wine at their Passover supper and it was late at night. They had not yet learned to be vigilant over their souls. They were perhaps not yet aware of the nature and intensity of the war they were in. While Jesus was fully aware of His struggle, they were not. It would only be on hindsight that the whole terrible picture would become clear to them.

Had we been any of them would we have been any different? Apart from their immediate circumstances, their minds were out of sync with Jesus and would remain stuck in their rut until the Holy Spirit came to dwell in them and to lead them into all truth.

Throughout their journey with the human Jesus, how much praying had they ever done? They were deeply impressed by His prayer life and begged Him to teach them to pray, but no amount of instruction would take the place of actually praying. It seems that they had not yet reached that stage of maturity in their walk with God. They were still spectators, watching and admiring Jesus, but not yet fully in the game themselves.

Is it any wonder that He told them that it was to their benefit that He would leave them? How were they ever going to become involved if He were always there to live the life for them? They needed to be thrown into the deep end, to be aware of their vulnerability when He was no longer with them, so that they would learn to lean hard on God through the Holy Spirit’s presence in them. Jesus was the only one, at this moment, who understood the struggle between flesh and spirit. To the one who simply follows the dictates of the flesh, there is no struggle, but to the one who sincerely desires to live for God, the war is on and only the power of God can give victory over the flesh.

Luella Campbell

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