One of many reasons we can treasure God’s truths is the fact that the Bible is not a picture of perfect people. As we dive into the truths, we can see ourselves and others – victories and triumphs as well as mistakes and failures. We read of the delightful times folks got it right and the disastrous times they got it wrong. The times they ran to God, the times they ran from him, and the consequences of both.
I find a special corner of comfort in the stories of the disciples, particularly. These men, chosen and handpicked to follow Jesus, were nonetheless human in heart. We read of their dreadful doubts, friendship failures and faulty faith – a faith that was much smaller than it should’ve been. We see them perplexed by circumstances and confused by miracles performed right before their eyes. As we read of their peaks and troughs, we might even be quick to judge their faultiness and imperfection – calling their shortcomings “foolish”.
“How could you not believe Jesus was capable of that miracle?”
“How could you betray the Lord?”
“How could you doubt the power He gave you?”
Foolish foolish foolish. Shame on you guys.
But the disciples are you. And they are me.
I read ahead a few chapters as Brandon and I finish up our study of the book of Matthew. The final chapters and stories of Jesus’ preparation, crucifixion, and resurrection are falling during the week of Easter- unplanned and conveniently. I ran across another “foolish, shame on you” disciples story.
As Jesus entered into Gethsemane, with a sorrowful heart towards His imminent death, He gave the disciples one task.
“Sit here while I go over there and pray.” Followed by, “Remain here and watch with me.”
Jesus poured out his heart in prayer and desperation. He was restless as He prepared to bear the burden of sin for you and for me. And when He was finished praying, what did he find the disciples doing? Sleeping on the job.
“And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping” (Matthew 26:40).
I can’t help but imagine Jesus thinking, “Really? Sleeping? You had ONE job.” In the hours leading up to the event that would change history- the event that shaped salvation and exclaimed eternal victory- Jesus’ best and brightest were in a slumber. Resting their heads as the Son of Man was preparing for condemnation.
“So you could not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26: 41).
It is easy for me to read this story in disbelief at the disciples failure to be alert. It is easy for me to wonder how they could rest and be easy when their dear friend was so weary. Why weren’t they watching intentionally, like Jesus asked of them?
Brothers and sisters, let’s take a moment to consider our own foolish decision to slumber. How often does God gives us clear directions that we sit on instead of act on? How many times does He have an assignment in mind for us, but we choose our own comfort instead? I don’t know about you, but I know that I’m guilty of slumbering instead of seizing the opportunity at times.
I love how Jesus kindly redirects the disciples. He doesn’t say, “I caught ya sleepin’, so you’re fired!” Instead, He explicitly states what they should be doing instead. Watching and praying. Because temptation was waiting for them as they slumbered.
What purposes might we accomplish for the Lord if we waited intentionally instead of slumbering? If we chose to watch and pray instead of sitting idly. When we sit on our God given assignments, we do a disservice to the Kingdom. Our spirit can help us to accomplish these godly assignments, but only if we feed it enough to compete with the weakness of our flesh.
So let’s not slumber by ignoring God’s directions.
Let’s not slumber by feeding our flesh with worldly information instead of God’s word.
Let’s not slumber by missing God given opportunities because we are too tired to bring them to fruition.
Let’s not slumber by neglecting fervent prayer and watching closely for temptations that become stumbling blocks.
“Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand…” (Matthew 26:45).
The time to act on our assignments is now. And Jesus is giving us a gentle nudge to wake us up from our slumber and to act on His behalf. Will we choose to sleep or to seize?
Remain hopeful. Stay anchored. Refuse to sink.