And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour? Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.
This was a warning of sorts from Jesus. Given Peter’s boast not long before this that he would never betray his Lord, he still doesn’t see his own weakness or his own inability to overcome the flesh. He gives in to sleep, just as he will later give in and flee, like he will impulsively draw his sword, like he will deny Jesus repeatedly. Jesus implores Peter to take an honest look at himself and to recognize that perhaps he is not as strong as he thinks he is, and perhaps he is not making the best choice in this moment.
At this moment, Jesus was struggling. His spirit was heavy. He was in agony as he faced the prospect of the cross that awaited him and all that would transpire there. And these men who had said that they would die with Jesus couldn’t even pray with Him. Those who said they would never deny are, in a way, denying Him now the comfort of their presence, a time of prayer together, the fellowship of suffering in this dark moment.
But isn’t that so often the case? Jesus isn’t necessarily calling us to make the ultimate sacrifice and to die for Him, but to make those smaller sacrifices along the way. He asks us merely to give up our comfort, to overcome the desires of our flesh and our natural inclinations, to rise above what we want and desire and need and do something else for His sake. Jesus didn’t ask the disciples to die for Him, but He did ask them to pray with Him, and they chose not to.
After the crucifixion, after Jesus’ death, after His resurrection and after coming to understand more fully who Jesus was, did the disciples regret missing this moment and the opportunity they had here? Did Peter wish he would have stayed up praying with Jesus when he understood that this was God with him? Did he regret not putting more effort into their relationship and spending more time with Jesus when he could? Let’s not live with those kinds of regrets. Let’s not miss the moments or the opportunities that Jesus gives to us. May we simply be willing to be humble, to put in the extra effort, and to truly be willing to deny ourselves for Jesus’ sake.