Lord, give me a greater understanding of Your disappointment at our failures.
Read MATTHEW 26:36–46
36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
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!”
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Peter, James and John had to live with a greater burden than the other eight. Consider what they went through between the crucifixion and the resurrection.
No human being can comprehend the depth and complexity of Jesus’ emotions in the last moments before his forthcoming ordeal, but an overriding sense of abandonment looms, made all the more painful after the disciples’ earlier good intentions (35). Three years ago on a brighter day by the Galilean seashore, Jesus called these three fishermen to follow him. They did, but now in a darkened garden outside Jerusalem, when it is he who desperately needs them, they drop the ball.
We all abandon Jesus sometimes, but it need not be the end for us, just as it is not the end for them. They do not know what Jesus’ anguished actions and words mean, but Jesus’ patient faithfulness does not depend on our understanding. Yes, they would all fall away (56), but after his resurrection he would meet them and send them into the world again. After our own crises, he will always meet us again and give us the chance once more to follow him.
There are many ways of abandoning Jesus. Individuals and churches repeat them in every age. Conscious desertion or betrayal are the more obvious ways. The hardest to discern in ourselves is apathy, slumbering spiritually through crucial moments of our lives, perilously oblivious that our discipleship is under threat. That is why Jesus commands us to stay awake and to pray that we may not be tested (41). When difficulties threaten our faith, Jesus’ actions here at Gethsemane challenge us to struggle with God’s will for us as he did, to both understand and accept it, and to follow him even when the path leads to pain and suffering. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, whose suffering and death inspired a generation, wrote this hymn in a Nazi interrogation prison: “When this cup you give is filled to brimming / with bitter suffering, hard to understand, / we take it thankfully, and without trembling / out of so good, and so beloved a hand.”
Do you stay beside Jesus and follow God’s will for your life? Do you accept his cup?
Lord, Your ways are obviously not ours. Give me the ability to see the greater good in the misfortune around me.