Luke 22:45-46 (NIV) When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
Jesus has specifically instructed the disciples to pray that they would not fall when temptation came (v40). But after He had finished wrestling in prayer, committing Himself fully to the path that the Father had laid out for Him, He came back to where He had left them, and found them all sound asleep!
It was understandable why they had fallen into an exhausted sleep. The whole evening had been a rollercoaster of emotions and events. What had started as a joy-filled remembrance of God’s deliverance of His people from Egyptian bondage had taken a decidedly solemn turn with Jesus’ pronouncement that one of His closest followers would betray Him. What had started as a spirited discussion of Jesus’ immanent ascension to the throne in Jerusalem, and their own elevation to His closest cabinet members, had been stopped cold by Jesus’ demand that they focus instead on serving each other rather than on being served. And then had come Jesus’ dire prediction that they would all desert Him in His moment of greatest need, and that even Peter would deny knowing Him three times before the sun came up the next morning.
So here they were, snoring in an exhausted sleep, while the fulfillment of Jesus’ direst prophecy was even then entering the gate to the garden where they were camped. Jesus had been praying hard, and so had been strengthened for the task that lay ahead of Him. But these men that He loved most dearly had been sleeping instead of praying, so the test would catch them weak and vulnerable; they would fail for sure.
Jesus was frustrated, but more than that, He was sad. He was sad that all He saw happening with these, His closest followers, really was coming true. And He was sad at the fear and sense of failure that they would soon experience, and that they would carry the scars of the rest of their lives.
But Judas had not yet arrived on the scene, although he was a very short distance away. There was still time for the disicples to pray that they would not fall when the test came, if they would just shake off this sleepiness and seek God’s face at once.
Father, it is easy to be critical of the disciples, and to believe that we would do better if we were in their place. But all too often, we, too, allow ourselves to get caught up in and affected by the events that swirl around us; to get distracted, and not pray; to try to problem solve instead of turning our hearts to You for wisdom and guidance. And so we, too end up falling, failing the test, and feeling like utter failures for our weakness. Remind us, Lord, that You are the source of all the strength that we need to be successful in every test, and of all the wisdom that we need to see each test coming so that we are prepared. Amen.