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March 28, 2018, 7:48 AM

Watch and Pray



Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Then [Jesus] returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?’ …. ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.’ (Matthew 26:40-41)

For three years Jesus had spent virtually every hour with His small group of disciples. They had listened to Him speak the greatest words of truth and life ever spoken, and they saw Him practice perfectly everything He preached. They had watched Him heal the sick, raise the dead, and walk on water. He had poured Himself into them, preparing them to take His gospel to the whole world. Now, the midnight hour had finally arrived, and the time to step forward as the perfect Lamb of God had come. Into the darkness of Gethsemane’s garden He took Peter, James and John. They clearly saw on His face that “He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed” (26:37). Jesus even admitted to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me” (26:38). Jesus, who had already done so much for His disciples, made this simple request in the hour of His greatest need.

Knowing His death was but hours away, Jesus went only a few steps before He dropped to the ground and started to pray: “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (26:39). After a while, Jesus returned to the disciples – and they were sound asleep. Can you believe it? Asleep . . . and in His greatest hour of need. Then came from Jesus’ mouth this piercing question: “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour?” (26:40).

Upon hearing this, the disciples undoubtedly thought of the words of the prophet Isaiah. Seven hundred years earlier Isaiah had spoken of the importance of watching and praying. In the ancient days, watchmen were posted on the city walls twenty-four hours a day. Watching for any trouble, they provided security to the people. They had divine assignments. They were never to be silent “day or night.” Likewise, Peter, James, and John had the opportunity to provide Jesus with physical security as well as the spiritual security during this hour that He prayed. The disciples could have alerted Jesus to anyone entering Gethsemane, and more importantly, the disciples could have prayed for strength, courage, and peace. But the disciples did neither; they slept.

Listen again to the sorrow in Jesus’ question: “Could you not watch with Me for one hour?” Isn’t it time we who name Jesus as our Savior and Lord took seriously this question? When, in so many places, the heart of the church has turned to stone and the pulpit is simply a dispensary of human thought; when so many of our educational systems are citadels of anti-Christian propaganda and blatant humanism; when the media loudly and persistently calls our children to godless lifestyles; when too many believers are quietly tolerating a dying civilization; and when at least some of us are hearing our Savior ask, “Could you not watch with Me for one hour?” – when all this is happening, isn’t it time for us to watch, to pray, and to cry out to God like Isaiah, “Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down!” (Isaiah 64:1).

Let us join in prayer: Father, keep us alert and prayerful. May we not fall into temptation. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens


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