Thoughts from today’s reading of Matthew 26…
40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” 43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. 45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
So much of life is driven by the flesh—even what we seemingly call our life of faith. Convenience and comfort is what drives the flesh. We go to church when we feel like we need community and not necessarily God. We worship when we need something Him—and even when we do, worship has to be something that’s comfortable for us. We pray when it’s convenient for us to do so as well. I’m not saying that we don’t have a willing spirit (though even when we say that we’re willing, oftentimes, it’s still the flesh that’s driving that willingness). I’m just saying that the flesh seems to dominate our lives. What are we to do then? The Bible talks about putting the flesh to death. That’s one part. The other part is what we do IN THE SPIRIT.
Jesus told His friends to, “Watch and pray.” In fact, He uses the word “watch” twice—“Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour” and “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” To watch means to be alert or to be aware. But it doesn’t simply mean to be alert or to be aware with our physical eyes, but with the eyes of our heart—or of the Spirit. I have become “aware” of our lack of “awareness,” not just of the physical realm around us, but especially, of the spiritual realm as well. We desperately need to wake up from our spiritual slumber.
One way of “waking” up is to know that we cannot simply journey alone and expect to develop our spiritually awareness—even Jesus needed His friends to spur Him on. What’s fascinated about this text is how many time Jesus went back to “check” on His friends. Why did He do that? I don’t think it was simply to check whether they were sleeping or not. I think He actually went back each time so that they would pray for Him because His own flesh felt so weak. I believe that His own words, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” came from the temptation that He Himself felt and overcame. Spiritual alertness and awareness doesn’t just happen. Overcoming the flesh and developing such alertness and awareness are things that must be intentionally nurtured and practiced together. Wake up and call someone to arrange a “spiritual awareness” meeting today. #desiringGod2017