Sometimes it comes down to this. Even though you crave the support of your friends and the comfort of your God, will you find the courage to overcome the deepest fear, the darkest hour, the defining moment? The stakes are at their highest, at this time your life reaches its most strategic moment; it is now that you stare your destiny in the face.
The Son of Man is in a garden named Olive Press Grove, a slopped piece of land. He has received the kindness of the few, a donor of a donkey, an owner of an upper room, the lender of a garden. Now he asks his three closest men to watch and pray as he steps a few paces away to struggle in his soul.
No one wants to die at 33; no one welcomes torture and battles so he prays. So intense are these moments that the capillaries in his forehead ooze blood onto his skin.
One hour is all he asks from his friends. He has been there for them for three years, teaching, healing, opening their eyes. But they too are stressed, caught in the crossfire of a battle they do not see, forces of heaven concentrated into the carpenter and forces of darkness amassed against him.
For the first forty minutes of this hour there is a relative calm but for the last twenty minutes the torches of the arresting party are visible making their way to the olive grove – he stays.
“If it is possible let this cup pass away, nevertheless not my will but yours be done”.
An angel comforts and strengthens him and the hour moves to a request to be able to drink the cup. It will be a cup that takes eighteen hours to drain and contains tastes that no one can imagine.
He didn’t want his friends to debate or to discuss the week in Jerusalem. He didn’t ask them to gather their weapons to defend him. He didn’t request they sing songs or chant verses. He just asked them to stay awake and watch his back. To pray behind him, to keep him company. Yet they slept.
I don’t know if it causes me to be angry with them or to sympathize with their tiredness. They were troubled and exhausted, but at the same time they were invited, requested, by the Son of Man himself to be close to history, the changing of rule, the reverse of a garden disaster at the dawn of history. Yet they slept.
Over these last years I have had the honour of working with thousands of God’s people and hundreds of churches. During this time, I have seen those who, in spite of their exhaustion, have stayed awake, watched and prayed. I have also seen some fall asleep. I have myself, at times, watched and at others, slept.
So this piece ends with questions. There will come a time when you face a life defining moment. Will you ask your friends to watch, and will they?
Lastly, there will come a time when the Son of Man himself reveals that he is about to do something remarkable. At that time, he will call you watch and pray. Will you?
How you handle these paths can define your destiny. Sometimes you too are called to sweat blood and drink a bitter cup.
39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
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