Matthew 26:36-46

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.”

And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.”

Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words.

Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.” Matthew 26:36-46

The disciples did the best they could do. It wasn’t very good. They fell asleep. Their bluster faded to black. Without realizing it, they were already slipping toward deserting Jesus.

There is an old hymn often sung during Lent, “Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone?” Symbolism and metaphor aside, whether he must or not isn’t the point. Jesus did bear the cross alone. He wasn’t the only one crucified that day, nor was that the only day such heinous things happened, but Jesus was tragically, obviously, sadly, alone. His friends deserted him. But first they fell asleep.

Several times Jesus tells his disciples to stay awake. Each time they fall asleep. They just can’t seem to stay “woke.” An interesting word there. “Woke.” In our day it has taken on a whole new meaning. To be “woke” means that your eyes have been opened. You have come to a new degree of awareness and consciousness of the reality of life for all who suffer under the cultural pressures of divisions like racism and sexism.

It is tough to stay “woke.” It is as tough as it is to swim against the raging current of a river or to run uphill. If, like me, you find yourself among the privileged (I am a tall, white, heterosexual, incredibly handsome male…OK so I embellished that a bit), staying “woke” feels optional. At any point, I can just quit swimming or running. I’ll feel relieved. People around me, people who share privileged positions, will feel relieved. No more pressure. No more pointing out the obvious. No more pushing against comfort zones. We all fall asleep again.

Jesus stayed “woke”. He was driven, not by culture or tradition or self preservation, but by a steadfast devotion to living the will of God. Even if that took him to a place of utter forsakenness, abandoned by all. Even God.

Following him means following him. Again he calls us to stay “woke”, even as our eyelids grow heavy.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, when the way is hard and the path unclear, give us the trust that you are carrying us toward where you want us to be. Give encouragement and strength to those with the courage to stand against all that stands against your love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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One Response to “Matthew 26:36-46”

  1. Dave Armstrong Says:

    Kerry,

    while I do not always agree with you on some points, you always make me think and to reexamine my position.

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