The strangest series of events had just unfolded. Jesus was obviously bothered by something. At first, He said that all of His disciples would fall away. This was unbelievable! After all that they had been through over the past couple years, there was no way they could stop following Him. He was God, come in the flesh. How could they abandon that truth?
Things got even stranger during dinner when Judas asked Jesus if he was the one who would betray Jesus, and Jesus responded, “Go do it quickly.” Judas had left with obvious frustration, but he was probably just going to take care of the money. He was a really good treasurer.
Following these strange events, the night did not get any better, but only seemed to compound into one unusual thing after another. Jesus took His remaining disciples with Him to His favorite garden spot on the Mount of Olives, adjacent to the city of Jerusalem. On the journey to the garden, Jesus was noticeably disturbed, verse 33 describes Him as “sore amazed” and “very heavy.” Speaking to His closest friends, He said “My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death.” But they pressed on to the spot where He could pray to God for strength.
Jesus was nearly overwhelmed with all that the next eighteen hours held. So He commanded Peter, James, and John, “Watch, and pray!” He had taught them to pray early in His ministry, “lead us not into temptation,” and now more than ever they should be praying that. But it was late, and they were exhausted from the busy week. Their minds were undoubtedly drifting to the potential events of the next day and what type of amazing thing Jesus would do. The darkness, and the stillness, with their tiredness took a toll on them, and soon they had drifted into sleep.
They had no idea what would happen in about an hour. If they had known what Jesus knew, they would have been begging God for strength. If they had known the onslaught against their faith that was about to occur, they would have been weeping in anguish with their Lord. But it was not given to them to know the future. Only God knew this. Jesus had lovingly encouraged them to “Pray!” but they did not feel the weight of the urgency, and ignorantly allowed themselves to drift into indifference.
Years later, Peter would relive this reality as he penned the truth of the immanency of danger to Christians in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant!” There is no season of the Christian life in which we can rest. We should be constantly praying the prayer of dependence. This night would prove to be overwhelming for all of the disciples, and they couldn’t even see it coming. How important is it that we be praying for God’s help against the unseen!
Food For Thought: While our temptation to fall away from our faith in Jesus may not be as direct as what the disciples were about endure, name some areas that Satan may use in our lives to “devour us.”