Are We Asleep?




The Garden of Gethsemane at the base of the Mt. of Olives gives us poignant images of Jesus as He seeks his Father in anguish and travail as what we know of Holy Week nears the climax at the cross on Good Friday.


The place itself carries so much symbolism. The name of the garden represents an olive mill or olive press. Here, surrounded by olive trees harvested and pressed into oil, the passion of Jesus would begin.


He too would be crushed.


On this night, He would feel the crushing agony He was about to face and would plead with His Father to consider if there was no other way that His will might be accomplished. It was a deep crushing of His heart and spirit that would precede the crushing of His body as He would be beaten and then crucified.


Jesus and his disciples would have walked here after the Passover meal they have shared together. Passover was always at the time of the full moon so the moonlight would have illuminated the path they took. He had already spoken of what was to happen to Him when He had broken bread and poured out the wine, but what did the disciples really understand?


He had invited them to share this night with Him, this elite group who had walked with Him during His three of ministry. They had heard His teaching, seen His miracles, and enjoyed the intimacy of His company that was theirs alone.


And of course there were the three closest to Him (Peter, James, and John) who even on this night were singled out to go farther with Him into the garden where He would fall on His knees. These three had been chosen to be with Him and observed His transfiguration. They were perhaps His closest companions and now they had been invited into another very sacred moment.


As I read the passage and how the disciples responded to His need and how Peter, James, and John fell asleep, I can feel anguish for Jesus in His loneliness. I confess to feeling very judgmental of the disciples for their failure to watch with Him, pray with Him, be truly with Him.


Jesus had told them He would lay down His life and be taken from them and asked them to watch and pray. We have a similar image when Elijah tells Elisha he will be taken, but Elisha does not depart nor take his eyes from Elijah.


Peter, James, and John, however, have fallen asleep despite the Lord’s attempt to awaken them more than once. Even though He has shared with them that His soul was exceedingly sorrowful even to the point of death, their concern for Him does not keep them alert to minister to Him.


What about this troubles me so much?


I think there is something inside of me that wonders if I too fail to be concerned about His heart, His desire for my companionship. How often do I think about or even consider it?


Perhaps we are more like those disciples than we would desire to admit.


They were tired. They had been with Him ministering day after day doing the business of ministry and caring for the people. Now they fail to care for Him, for His heart, in this dark hour.


Have they been so busy doing the work of ministry they were insensitive to His desire for a relationship with them above all else?


Am I? Are you? Can we be caught up in doing so many good things for Him that we have little energy to simply be with Him?

 Ultimately, He offered them grace even as He does us, but I am drawn back to the reality that He left off praying and had gone to them. What was He seeking from them, hoping for? We will never know.


What I am reminded of as I read the passage out of Matthew 26 is this:

I don’t want to be too tired, too weary, too involved with the busyness of life or ministry that when He comes and simply wants to spend time with me that I fall asleep and miss that time He has carved out for me.


This passage isn’t the only passage in scripture that speaks to being available and ready for being with Him. We see it when Mary chooses the best part. We see it in the parable of the foolish virgins when they have no oil and miss the Lord’s appearing.


Lord, help me, help us, to be available to you, to be alert, and to be ready and make time to be with you the priority. You gave us all you had, sparing nothing. Awaken my heart, our hearts, to what you most desire of me, of us.






17 thoughts on “Are We Asleep?

  1. I’ve always found this passage extremely challenging and convicting! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it at Booknificent Thursday on this week!

  2. Pam – sadly, I think I am more like the disciples that I would want to admit, and yet at the same time I learn so much about Jesus’ character, His love, His forgiveness and acceptance and so much ore from reading about their mess ups… and then I know that we are to relate to them and learn from them as well. Thanks for linking up with me at #TuneInThursday last week, I sure hope to see you again this week

  3. This is beautiful. A question that pulls us closer to the truth. Are my interested in a relationship or in activities for the Lord?
    Thank you for sharing this.
    Many Blessings to you and Happy Easter to you

  4. I doubt we rarely think of how the Lord wants *our* companionship. We just think about how we need him with us. These are beautiful thoughts, Pam. Thank you for spurring my heart more toward thoughts of Easter.

    1. I agree 100%! Thanks for your kind comments! BTW I started reading the book you mentioned (Grit)….fascinating!! I also took the Grit Scale and discovered I am currently pretty gritty!!

  5. Your neighbor at RaRa Linkup. Thank you for this great reminder. We do get so busy and distracted. I don’t want to miss the intimacy I could have with Him because of tiredness or busyness either. It is so easy to wonder how the disciples could respond the way they did, but we really are no different. What a beautiful post to help me prepare my heart for Resurrection Sunday. Thank you so much. May your soul be refreshed in taking to heart the reality of His love for you.

    1. Thanks, Cheryl, for your gracious words and encouragement! May He draw you closer to your heart as you survey the cross and rejoice over the empty tomb!

  6. Hi Pam! I was thinking today, what was going through Jesus’ mind today? Tomorrow it begins, the Passover meal, going to the Mt. of Olives…was he glad or filled with sorrow?

    I had no idea that the Olives was a place of pressing too, that makes the visit there by Jesus so much more poignent.

    I think you hit it just right in revealing that maybe I’m uncomfortable with the disciples sleeping, because maybe I’d be sleeping too. I’d hope not, but who knows? I remember reading that drinking cups of wine is a part of the Seder meal, and maybe the disciples were overcome with tiredness and wine? Interesting thought anyway.
    May God bless you as you continue through these holy days, and may he bring you many more insights into his suffering, death and resurrection.

    1. Thanks so much, my friend! I continue to grow with an awareness that God wastes nothing and places and things have significance in His Word AND in our lives if we will take a closer look to discover them.
      Blessings on you as well!

  7. My Bible study just finished a study of Mary & Martha that had a similar point… to be careful not to allow our work for Him to replace our relationship with Him. It’s a good thing to check up on regularly since our whole society is so focused on busyness and productivity. there isn’t much time or value assigned to just ‘being’ anymore. thanks!

    1. Sounds like a great study!! One of the great blessings I just thanked the Lord for this morning was how I can linger with Him now that I am retired and not working full-time and feeling the push to leave my chair, Bible, and journal. Blessings on your Holy Week!

  8. Awake O Sleeper! Pam, your words are lovely and I’m particularly glad to be here reading them. I often wonder if, being such a morning person, would I have been able to remain awake that night of anguish? I just don’t know. But I do want to be awake to His Holy Spirit and the promptings He is faithful to give. THOSE I NEVER WANT TO MISS.

    1. Thanks so much, Susan! Awake O Sleeper…another great hymn!! I am listening to the choir of Wall Street Trinity Church on You Tube as I write this! (Just had to!!) I was always more of a night person, but as I have gotten older I find I am somewhere between. I know I can offer the disciples more grace than I may have at one time for falling asleep despite my sad awareness I may well have disappointed Him also! I hear you!! Blessings on this Holy Week!!

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