“Then he returned and found the three disciples asleep. He said to Peter, ‘Simon, are you asleep? Weren’t you able to stay awake for even one hour?’” Mark 14:37, GNT
There should be a similar expression about sleep as there is about money: sleep is a good servant but a torturous master. We love the comfort of slipping in between the bedcovers after a long, exhausting day and closing our eyes till morning light, to wake again refreshed. But when we’re driving home late at night, or sitting in a front pew in church, when we want or need to be wide awake, the torture of propping up heavy eyelids to keep our eyes open surpasses any torment as we fight to stay awake.
Peter experienced this precise torture after celebrating the Passover Supper with Jesus and the other disciples. It had been an intense experience of Jesus engaging them profoundly in the Last Supper, before shocking them with the news that one of them would betray Him. Peter was tired as he tried to understand it all, and exhausted as he tried to convince Jesus that he would never disown Him, let alone three times. (Mark 14:31)
Jesus is praying in the garden, sweating drops of blood (Luke 22:44) and He asks Peter, “Simon, are you asleep?” Peter is fighting a losing battle; Jesus knows that. Peter had been so confident …
Jesus is at the end of His ministry and tonight the tables are turned; Jesus needs the support of His friends because His “soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” (Mark 14:34) This will be the hardest night of His earthly life, the night before the crucifixion; darkness is closing in. He faces a friend’s betrayal and an unjust trial; He needs His friends to watch and pray while He’s in the garden, pouring out His heart to His Father.
But they can’t; even at His request; even though it’s the time that they also need to be spiritually prepared for the night and what lies ahead. “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come … Here comes my betrayer!” (Mark 14:41-42)
We don’t know exactly what Peter made of the nightmare that followed, but he ended up disowning Jesus three times, and crying bitterly when the rooster crowed. (Mark 14:72)
How would it have ended for us in Peter’s shoes? Where would we have looked for strength to keep watch? Only by focusing firmly on God’s purpose for us, being faithful in prayer, and being accountable to Him in all humility are we able to accomplish His will for us.
Are we keeping watch now, or is Jesus asking us the same questions?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, “in [whom] we live and move and have our being” please help us to faithfully watch and pray. (Acts 17:28) Amen