Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Mark 14, verses 37-38.
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak:” no more helpful words were spoken that early Good Friday morning.
Notice how Jesus poses the question to Peter (and, in turn, James and John) that both accuses of slacking but also speaks to their conscience. Jesus doesn’t slam the Disciples. Instead, He states a fact – I really need your help – while speaking to the better angels of their nature. Then Jesus “goes there,” reminding them – and us – of a few key things about humanity.
Watch and pray so that you do not fall into temptation. God made each of us with the inborn ability to watch, to be alert, to be cognizant, mindful, attentive, and active in our lives. God Immanuel tells us to watch around us because the fallen world of sin is the world we live in. He calls us to be in that world, to hold fast to faith in Him but live in that sinful world with other sinful people like ourselves. Why does Jesus tell us to watch? So that we don’t fall into temptation, of course. Jesus understood temptation; He was fully man while still being fully God. Yet when Satan tempted Him in the desert, Jesus was literally starving to death. He was at His physical and emotional lowest and that’s when Satan pressed for advantage. Jesus was telling His friends that the best way to resist temptation is to watch out for it.
The spirit is willing; words of hope. Jesus knew the depth of the human spirit; He knew that it was for love that God created each one of us with a spirit. And He knew that He, in His Spirit, would return to the world after He had ascended home. When that happened, the Spirit of God would move the spirit of man to faith, to accept this resurrected Lord as the only Savior of mankind. He knew this would be possible, that it would happen, because Jesus knew that the spirits of men are willing, that we crave God and innately seek God even as we deny Him.
Yet we deny God because the flesh is weak. Even when we watch, even when our spirit is willing, man’s flesh is weak. We want the sin. We want the praise, the power, the glory. All the stuff of comfort? Want it. All the adulation and fame and adoration of other men? We crave them. We want and crave those things because we forget that our flesh is weak. We’re sinful from birth, weak in the flesh and tempted to seek comfort in the flesh instead of comfort from the Cross.
Jesus ‘got’ all of that, and I marvel at how He spoke with instead of speaking to these men who, being men, fell asleep when they should have been standing watch for Him. Peter and the others should have been keeping guard, attending their friend. Instead, they did what we would do. Thank God for His patience with them and us.
Lord Jesus, You are kind, wise and patient with us. Thank You for these blessed qualities, for teaching me about myself.
Read Mark 14, verses 32-41.