“And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.’ And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’ And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, ‘Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. And he came the third time and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.’” Mark 14:32-42
Jesus had just dismissed His betrayer, Judas. Jesus knew the time had come for Him to die, that His earthly ministry and life would now culminate at the cross, and His distress weighed heavy. He needed prayer, and the support of His closest friends. He also knew Peter had a habit of succumbing to sleep and its influence over clear thinking, sin-resistance, and self-control. He warned him of Satan’s desire to bring him down, yet still the hypnotic temptation of somnolence tapped, and tapped, and won. (Luke 9:28-35; 22:31-32)
When facing any type of Gethsemane, how often we would choose somnolence! We prefer the escape of sleep to facing anticipated conflict, pain, or surrender. We would drink the cup of sedation to avoid that of suffering. But our Lord knows this is the very place the devil gets a foothold, with every intention of weakening the will, and along with it our resolve for fortitude and uprightness. When worn down, we give in to the path of least resistance, blind to consequences we will later regret.
Our Suffering Savior understands weariness, and warns us not to yield to it. Remain and watch! Watch and pray! Beware the tickle and tease of the enemy who knows your vulnerabilities! Keep open the eyes, alert to his wiles.
When are we most prone to heavy eyes? What situations render us weak to resist Satan’s taunts, and how can we guard against them? Where have we grown idle in our defenses of spiritual disciplines, preferring to slumber than wrestle in prayer? How can we expect God’s wisdom, guidance, or particular strength when we take not the time to implore Him, or to know His mind when we neglect His word?
Lord, keep me spiritually awake for all You have before me, and always alert to You, my soul’s delight.