And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
This passage in Mark has stuck with me for days. I have prayed about it and meditated on it while I am running and wondering why it is remaining. I came across it during a bible study and it stopped me and made me reflect on it.
It was Jesus’ final hours before being led away to die, He wanted some time to pray. He asked his disciples one thing: stay awake and wait for me.
They failed. They fell asleep, not once but twice. They got tired, and they fell asleep.
Let the weight of that sit and sink in. Jesus’ closest friends, his disciples, the men he has been training to take over his ministry as he is preparing to die for everyone’s sins, these men fell asleep.
How mad do you get when someone lets you down? Do you snap at the chance to let someone know they have disappointed you? I imagine we all need to work on this. For me, my temper is fiery and swift, and I know it is something I must harness in order to grow. I thought about the disciples falling asleep, and then I looked at Jesus’ reaction. He does not yell, he does not condemn them.
He recognizes that their flesh is weak, that they too fall short of his requests and have grown weary and tired. We all get tired. We all get worn down and allow our flesh to fail us in some way.
The lesson for me in this passage is just that, I will get tired, I will fail. Jesus knows this, He knows my heart for Him but also knows I will fail at times. I need to offer more grace for others when they disappoint me or let me down, I need to remember that we all get tired like the disciples and we are not immune to it.