“And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter: ‘So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour?'” (Matthew 26:40)
What a pathetic response to an amazing invitation! How blessed were Peter, James & John for Jesus to have taken them with Him into the heart of the Garden of Gethsemane. Verse 36 tells us that He had commanded most of the disciples to “sit here” while He went further to pray. But then :37 says that He actually took the three disciples (Peter, James & John) with Him deeper into the Garden, where He poured out His heart to His Heavenly Father in prayer. It was an amazing opportunity: to be invited into His “inner ring”, and to witness one of the pivotal moments of all history, as the Lord conversed with His Father about the deepest struggles of His heart, regarding the impending atonement He would make for His people. It would have been the single greatest highlight of the life of any person who could have been there.
And yet what did they do with this amazing privilege that Jesus gave them?
Verse 40 says “He … found them sleeping.” They didn’t gaze at the glorious spectacle of Jesus’ prayer with the Father. They didn’t hang upon every word. They didn’t wait breathlessly, knowing their own salvation and indeed that of the entire world hung on the outcome of this agonizing struggle. Instead, they fell asleep. Let it sink in: THEY. FELL. ASLEEP. And Jesus confronted them about it: “So, you men could not watch with Me for one hour?” His disappointment is dripping all through the words of the verse: “not … for one hour?” It was not asking that much: merely an hour of their attention and prayer. And yet they were unwilling or unable to make even that minimum commitment, in the midst of one of the greatest privileges in all history.
But before we condemn these men too harshly, perhaps we should examine our own commitments first? We too have received an amazing invitation: through Jesus Christ we have been reconciled to God the Father, and we are now capable of fellowship with Him. Every day we may speak to Him in prayer and hear from Him in His word. “Our fellowship is with the Father” I John 1:3 exults! What an amazing privilege: to fellowship with the God of all creation, who has all wisdom, power, glory and love!
And yet, what have we done with this glorious invitation? Have we made it the first and greatest priority of each day to get up and spend time listening to Him in His word, and speaking to Him in prayer? Or have we followed in the footsteps of His disappointing disciples and made sleep a bigger priority than we have fellowship with the Lord? Perhaps some of us need to hear the voice of Jesus speaking this morning, not only to that motley trio, but to us as well: “So, you men could not watch with Me for one hour?”