My daughter and I are finishing up a study of Luke. Today we came to the part, shortly before Jesus' arrest where He went into the garden with some of his disciples. He asked them to pray but overcome by their exhaustion, they fell asleep. I have often been baffled by this. Why couldn't they stay awake for their dear friend and master? Did they not sense the urgency of what was about to happen?
But today, a new thought occurred to me. I think Jesus knew they would fall asleep and He brought them into the garden to illustrate a point. Before this event, they had all been celebrating what we now call The Last Supper. At this meal, Jesus was warning them. He was trying to get them to understand that things were going to get tough. If they thought things were tough before, that was nothing compared to what was coming. He even tells Peter that Satan has asked to sift him like wheat and indicates that Peter will fall into temptation by saying when you turn back, strengthen your brothers.
So my daughter and I talked this morning about how it feels when you are super sleepy and how hard it is to try and stay awake. And how sometimes, no matter what you do, your body just succumbs to the sleepiness. We related this to our weakness. When things get tough or scary and we are not at the top of our game, it's kind of like when we are sleepy and that is when Satan loves to jump in and attack us. And sometimes, despite our best efforts, those are the times when we tend to succumb to sin.
Jesus knew things were going to get unbearably tough for his disciples and he knew how important it would be for them to stay strong. He also knew that they would falter at times and I think he wanted them to remember that fight to stay awake and use it in their fight against Satan.
But there is more to the story. Every morning we wake up, refreshed from our sleep. Jesus told Peter, when you turn back, not if but when. We always have the opportunity to start fresh with God, even when we blow it in our weakness and succumb to the temptations of Satan. Everyday we get a new chance to allow God to refresh our souls and there is no greater refreshment than that which comes from the Prince of Peace.