“He returned to His disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Couldn’t you men keep watch with Me for one hour?’ He asked Peter.” —Matthew 26:40
This picture finds Jesus in Gethsemane at the lowest of the low moments of His life on earth. He’s walking with these men who have everything they need—they’re doing ministry with the man who multiplies food to feed thousands of people; they’re good! If they’re on this guy’s team, they are not wanting. And the one thing He asks of them is to watch and pray for one hour . . . and they couldn’t do it.
Who’s on your life team? Who have you surrounded yourself with, who can you be vulnerable with and held accountable by? Who on your team do you commit to pray for and uplift? If Jesus had asked you to pray, would you have been able to pray? We all need people in our life to speak the truth in love to us—people who will walk through life with us.
“Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ.” —Ephesians 4:15
In this moment of Jesus’ life, He was at the foot of the Mount of Olives, the same area where some of the major highlights of His ministry took place. When we look at Jesus’ ministry at the Mount, we see Him teaching the Lord’s Prayer, weeping over Jerusalem, entering Jerusalem on a donkey, and last but not least, this is where He ascended into Heaven.
At the same time, Gethsemane was a place of crushing. This is where they would crush olives, grinding them down to make olive oil—the oil they would use to anoint kings. In this place of crushing and grinding, Jesus was being pressured like never before, so much so that He is actually sweating drops of blood.
This King, who should be anointed with this oil, is instead being baptized into death. God poured out His wrath on His undeserving Son. Jesus took the cup of God’s wrath for you and for me, and it all started in this garden.
There will be hard times in life—that’s inevitable. Whether we are experiencing a highlight in our lives or being pressed like never before, we are to stay the course just as Jesus did. He never backed down even when He pleaded with God for a different outcome. Three times Jesus asked God to keep Him from the suffering He was about to endure.
“Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” —Luke 22:42
Three times He asked this of God but God—His Father—did not say yes to this request. If God did not say yes to His only Son, we have no room to get upset when God doesn’t answer our prayers in the way that we hope for.
In no way was Jesus naïve about what He was about to go through. He was going to take on the sins of the world, not just the sins that had happened prior to His crucifixion, but all sins—past, present, and future. Who else could bear that?
“Then He said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with Me.’” —Matthew 26:38
Even to death! Jesus hadn’t even been betrayed, beaten, or hung yet and He was already deathly sorrowful. His one request was that His three closest friends—Peter, James, and John—would watch over and pray for Him. When they didn’t, He looked at Peter and posed our first question to him. He didn’t look to the Zebedee brothers, He asked Peter, who was going to be a great leader—the pillar of the church—and said, “Not even for one hour?”
Jesus was telling Peter to wake up! “This is how you need to do it, bro!” He wanted Peter to be a firsthand eyewitness of what to do when life gets difficult because Peter had a lot of work ahead of him. Jesus demonstrated to this leader that the first thing to do whenever things get hard is to pray. It’s not tapping out and playing Xbox, it’s not drinking yourself into a stupor, and it’s not getting high, because as soon as you get off your bus the problem will still be waiting at your door.
Jesus gave him, and us, the first HD picture of how you respond under pressure. When the whole world is against you, when you have to make a hard decision, you pray.
—LaMorris Crawford, Chaplain of the Cincinnati Bengals
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