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 years 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?”
Sometimes He just asks us to be with Him and we don’t know how because we have always expected that action, duty, service is expected of us but then there are many forms of action, service and duty and being with someone is one of them. Enjoyed the post.
So well said, Sandra! Thank you! Have a blessed day!💕
Your words pricked my heart today. I too want to be there for Him. He seeks my company daily and I know I often fail. I thank Him for His wonderful grace. Thank you for sharing your poignant post at the #LMMLinkup this week. I wish you a wonderful Easter season as we remember His ultimate sacrifice.
Thanks so much for sharing this, Mary. Your words encourage me as I seek to listen to the Lord for what to write each post.💕
I am so glad I ran across your post today. I too wrote about the disciples in my post that went out today. Yes, I must confess I have many times been too busy doing for God I failed to sit with him. Thank you, for your beautiful words.
It’s always affirming when the Lord has several of us write on the same theme. I will check yours out as well to gain your insights. Blessings on this Holy Week!💕
We are so quick to point at the failures of the disciples yet not quite so quick to see ourselves doing the very same things. I would hope that I would be able to stay awake to watch and pray, but the reality is that if I don’t do it now, then it’s the exact same thing that Peter, James and John did. Thanks for this post!
All very true, Karen! Thanks so much for stopping to read and comment!💕
Great thoughts here both from your post and your readers.
I’ve often thought of the apathy of the church as a whole, how we see linearly, black words on white pages, without knowing the depth of the meaning of the words. The scenes displayed before us are often just words. We need to study them, to get to know the depths of the words, so we can feel as He did and respond as He is expecting us to respond.
This scene in Gethsemane is filled with emotion and I have wondered if Jesus stayed with His friends if they still would have fallen asleep? Would His prayers have spurred them on to continue praying? Is there a lesson here for us to learn?
Great post, Pam. Thank you. Just Trekking Thru today.
Thank you for sharing these heart-probing questions and thoughts. I know that so often I have placed my own definitions on what I thought my days and time with Jesus should have looked like. But to pause and ask how HE is desiring me to come, has become a new way of living these past few years, with so much learning yet to come. I so appreciated your words today. Oh, may I keep my heart awake to Him!
Those probing questions are one I first challenge myself with and I am aware the Lord may want to use them in the lives of others as well.
Blessings on your week as you stay on alert for His heart’s call to you!
Such an inspiring truth you’ve pulled out for us to gaze at and consider, Pam. Thanks for sharing and for inviting us all to simply be with Him and not just doing for Him.
Thanks so much, Beth! I often write to remind myself to “gaze and consider” beyond the words of scripture that are so familiar to me!❤️
I come back to this scene over and over again because I still think it has so much to teach me. I keep a photo of Jesus in Gesthemane by my desk to remind me that even Jesus struggled. For me, it is difficult in two parts. One to see Jesus struggling so and two to not judge to me what looks like the failure of the disciples (lest ye be judged). I have been asleep too many times in my life when God was reaching out to me. Reflecting this year on it though I had a new thought though. What if Jesus needed to be alone in the garden? What if it was a struggle he had to go through alone? I’m still thinking on this.
I could not agree more, Jennifer! There are so many questions to reflect upon and it becomes quite personal if we risk putting ourselves in the scene and recognize none of us can say for certain how we would have responded. Blessings on your week and thanks so much for your insightful comments! 💕
That scene in the garden leaves me uncomfortable every time I read it because I do wonder what my response would have been. Would I even have faithfully stayed there in the midst of so much crushing? This season of the year is valuable for a good slow assessment of our own heart’s condition.
I get that, Michele, for the very same reasons. Often the questions I pose in my writing are ones that I am first of all posing to myself and I wish I could guarantee the answers would be what I hope, but sadly I cannot.
You’re right about the assessment of our heart’s condition….this week of the year tends to highlight that good habit.
Blessings on your week!