If only I had known. If only I had known what would happen next, I would have stayed awake. But the night was dark and cool and the wind blew softly on my face. Before Jesus walked past the nearby olive trees to pray alone, He even said to us, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death….Stay here and keep watch” (Mark 14:34). He walked a few yards away and knelt on the ground to pray. Did I stay awake and pray with Him? Did I keep watch for my good friend? No, I’m ashamed to say, no. I stretched out on the cool, soft grass and laid my head down. I closed my eyes, just for a minute, I said to myself. And I went to sleep. The next thing I knew, Jesus was at my side, looking so sad.
Again He asked us to stay awake, watch, and pray. He walked a short distance away and fell to the ground, praying, beseeching God to take a cup away from Him. I didn’t understand what He meant, but He sounded so distressed that I tried desperately to stay awake for my friend. But my eyes were so heavy that I just couldn’t keep them open. Once again, I failed Him. I slept while Jesus prayed alone.
After He awakened us again, He asked us once more to watch and pray. I tried so hard; I really did. I blinked my heavy eyelids and thought about my Jesus praying nearby. Alone, He struggled with something, praying out loud, calling to God. And what did I do? I deserted Him. I put my head down and once more fell fast asleep.
He again returned to find us sleeping. When I awakened I could hardly believe how Jesus looked. In the moonlight on this cool spring night, I saw his brow beaded with sweat. But when He came closer I realized His brow was not covered in sweat, but instead it was covered in drops of blood. How Jesus must have struggled with His prayers while I slept. I closed my eyes again, this time in shame. Tears of regret ran down my cheeks as I realized I had deserted my Jesus in an hour of great need.
Mark 14:41, 42 Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
Food for thought: Consider how difficult this night must have been for Jesus. Like the disciple, how often have you “slept” when you could have prayed or helped someone with your actions? Jesus forgave his disciples for sleeping through His hour of need. Have you asked Him to forgive you for inactions? Have you forgiven yourself?