By Ed Jordan
Can you remember a time that you were so exhausted and sleepy that you could not stay awake? Have there been times that you dozed off without realizing it, only to awaken and realize you had slept for perhaps an hour? This was the way the disciples were feeling on the night before Jesus’ crucifixion. It had been a very difficult week for all the disciples, but an even harder week for Jesus.
Jesus took His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane so that they would be with Him, and pray with Him, as He began to confront one of the most difficult periods of His life. Jesus was coming to grips with His impending crucifixion and death, and He wanted His friends to walk through the process with Him.
Jesus asked His disciples to stay awake with Him, and to pray with Him. But they kept falling asleep. Jesus prayed three different times for God to remove the cup of suffering and death which was on His horizon. He asked that if it were possible to accomplish God’s will in any other way, that God would let the cup pass from Him. Jesus chose to continue to submit to do what was necessary in order for God to save you and me, and a world of humans from the domination of sin and death.
In Matthew 26:45–46 (NASB95), we read of the conclusion of their time spent in the garden: “Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!”
Jesus was at the very moment being betrayed, and turned over to those who would who would abuse Him, mock Him, whip Him, falsely accuse and sentence Him to die. The disciples were still asleep in regard to what was happening in the world around them. Jesus was trying to get them to wake up, get up, and to get going to carry out what God wanted to accomplish through their lives.
This was a message not just to the first disciples, but also to each of us. He desires for us to be alert to, and take part in, what Jesus is accomplishing through the events of our daily lives. In order to do this, we must get awake, and stay awake. It is so very easy for each of us to become absorbed in our own things, instead of the things of God.
Too often we use the best energy of the day in carrying out our own plans, and then when we are tired we drop off to sleep while trying to spend time with God. If we are to participate in the things God is accomplishing in and through our daily lives, we need to purposely be alert to God’s activity in our lives. We need to wake up spiritually, and quit sleeping away our lives.
Jesus tells us to get alert, i.e. to quit sleeping through our opportunities to participate with what God is doing, but also to get up. We each need to evaluate our own lives to see if we are being spiritual “couch potatoes,” or being actively alert to Jesus’ instructions, getting up, and getting active for God.
As long as the disciples were sitting, or reclined, they kept falling asleep. This is true of us as well. Jesus told them, and tells us, that the time of our spiritually sleeping away our lives is past. It is time for us to wake up, to get up out of our comfy chairs, and to get active for God. It is not enough to merely see what God wants to do through our lives. We must also get up, follow Jesus, and commit ourselves and resources to action so that God can accomplish what He desires to accomplish.
Are you asleep, or awake? Are you settling down, or getting up? Are you standing still, or getting active in the things God is accomplishing? How much more could God impact the world, if all of His disciples would get alert to what God wants done, get up and follow Jesus, and get active in carrying out the will of God for our lives?