"Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground." Luke 22:39-44
One of the amazing things about the Bible is that you can read a passage over and over; and then one time, you see something new. I was studying the above passage for a lesson on Jesus' prayer life when the phrase, "He withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them," jumped out at me.
Really? The disciples were close enough to Jesus when He was praying in such agony? I don't know about you, but I can't throw a stone all that far.
The disciples were just not people in a congregation. They were His best friends, His followers. Today, we speak of followers in the blogging world and friends in facebook who are interested in the things we have to say. The disciples were much more than that. They were His students and went wherever He went, eating where He ate, joined in a common cause. They just didn't realize the goals Jesus had and the goals they had were different. Jesus wanted to usher in a new spiritual Kingdom, they wanted to usher in an earthly kingdom. Hopefully, one in which they ruled with Jesus. Instead of the Romans kicking them around, they wanted it to be them in charge.
If you read on in Luke 22, you'll find that the disciples fell asleep and didn't even know Jesus was so anguished. They even missed the angel coming and strengthening Him. In fact, in Matthew's account, Jesus tried to wake them up twice and ended up praying alone three times.
Luke said the disciples were sleeping because they were full of sorrow. Have you ever done that? You're so upset and depressed by something that you just want to shut the world out so you sleep as much as possible.
Matthew said their eyes were heavy. They had just eaten the Passover dinner and had the first Communion - wine and bread. (I always sleep after a bunch of carbs!)
Whatever the reason, they missed their opportunity of being Jesus' prayer partners. They weren't there for Him to under-gird Him with prayer support, like Aaron and Hur did for Moses in that battle held so long ago.
Let's don't just pick on the disciples, though. We're just as guilty today. How often do we have someone earnestly seeking God about a need in their life and we don't see it? Worse yet, how often are we sleeping through someone's Gethsemane?
We have troubles of our own. We're just too tired. Maybe ... we're even too full of all the blessings we have that we can't even see someone in need.
We might even be sitting a stone's throw away from them.
It's time to wake-up.
Oh Father, we love You so much and thank you that You choose to work through us. Please, Lord, don't let us be asleep when others around us are in need. Help us to be alert and watching for ways to lift our brothers and sisters up! Don't let us be apathetic but fill us with Your energizing, loving and caring Spirit.
In Jesus name, we pray,
Amen (So be it!)
Today, I'm writing in community with Jennifer at Getting Down With Jesus:
because I believe it was a God-Bump to my consciousness when I saw that we can be a stone's throw away from someone in agony.
I'm also joining up with Duane Scott at Scribing the Journey: