Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Jesus was in agony. He knew what was coming and it led Him to pray. He went to a lonely place with His closest friends, Peter, James, and John to talk with His Father.
“Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:38,39)
Then He got up and returned to His disciples. We know what happened next. They were asleep. Jesus was in His moment of greatest need, and they fell asleep on Him. He was alone. He came from heaven to be our Emmanuel – “God with us” yet at His moment of need all abandoned Him through deceit or weakness – and He was “God alone.”
As we go through the season of Lent and start to ponder what Jesus went through for us to save us from our sins – the elements of His Passion that were so painful – we might wish that we could have comforted Him in some way as He walked that road to Golgotha.
Think about it for a moment. Jesus was about to go through all that suffering for our sake. If we were there, perhaps we could have walked around to keep our blood flowing or pinched ourselves to stay awake. Whatever it took to stay awake even for a few hours, so that when Jesus came back from praying, we would be there.
To go to Him and say thank you.
To look in His eyes and let Him know that we appreciate what He was going to do for us.
To tell him that we know that He was going to die in our place so our sins would be forgiven, and rise again to give us eternal life.
Our Lord had the strength to walk that road to the cross, and He drained the cup His Father gave Him. We did not have the chance to be there that night, but it is still pleasing to Him that we say “thank You” for what He did. We could not pray with Him that night, but we can still follow His teaching about prayer and exercise ourselves to watch and pray today. We cannot sit on the mountain and help to keep Peter, James and John stay awake until Jesus came back to them, but we can pray for ourselves, our families, our congregation, our Synod, for the lost and our enemies too, as Jesus wants us to do.
Unfortunately, we find ourselves distracted by the world and lulled into slumber all too often. Each day God gives us on earth, we have the opportunity to go to Him in prayer, but none of us do it as well as we should. In fact we are so distracted, so weak, so slumbering, that Christ could well ask us, “Could you not watch five minutes?” It is time for us to wake up. It is time to repent of our praying slumber, and follow the command of our Lord Jesus to “watch and pray.”
We could not be there with Christ on that dark night in Gethsemane. And even if we had been there, we would not have done any better than Peter, James, or John. But Christ is here with us. He comes to us in the Gospel, to give us forgiveness by His blood shed on the cross. Come and worship with us during Lent. On Wednesday at noon and at 7:00 p.m., and on Sunday at 9:00 a.m. Each time we gather we will hear of Christ and what He has done for us. He will give us His gifts of forgiveness and salvation, and we will pray to Him, giving thanks for His mercy and asking for His help for one and all. Thanks be to God!