My apologies – I had to go out of town, and then got sidetracked. There are a couple of posts needed to finish this topic.
Matthew 26:41-44 – “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” 43 Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more.
The disciples were tired – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It is understandable with all of the events that had taken place, along with their leader telling them that He is about to check out. I understand their extreme tiredness.
For us, the heavy lifting by Christ is done. So in most cases today, it’s about us realizing that there are times we need to examine ourselves and halt.
Charles Stanley came up with the acronym HALT to indicate four areas that make us more susceptible to temptation than normal.
- H – Don’t get too hungry. Examples… Adam and the tree, Esau and the stew
- A – Don’t get too angry. Example… Moses anger cost him his trip into the promised land.
- L – Don’t get too lonely. Example… David got lonely when he should been in battle. That’s when he saw Bathsheba on the rooftop.
- T – Don’t get too tired. The disciples here are the example.
Jesus understood that the spirit is weak. In His humanity, He was tempted in all of these areas. He was tempted by food by the adversary when in the desert for 40 days. He got angry and frustrated with the disciples and the opposition, but He never sinned. He felt lonely up on the cross when everyone forsake Him, including His Father – yet He remained steadfast to the Father’s will. He was just as tired as the disciples were on that night – but remained focused, despite His grief.
If we feel ourselves getting weak, we need to HALT and pray humbly to the Father. His Son can vouch for us, having been through it all while He was on the earth.
Matthew 26:40-41 – And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
What temptation is Jesus referring to? Think about what is taking place. Jesus is in an epic battle with His flesh to carry out His Father’s will. He is fully engaged. However, His followers are not. I think the temptation is about following the Father’s will with regards to Jesus’ suffering and death. Temptation, in this case, would be anything that deviates from the Father’s plan.
Now let’s fast forward a bit. In the coming hours, Peter made some mistakes. Again, when I refer to mistakes, I am referring to following God’s will. Peter did what any normal human being would have done, but that was not the Father’s will. In verse 51 (paralleled in John 18:10), Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of one of the men that came to arrest Jesus. Wrong response. Peter denied that he knew Jesus three times. Wrong response.
If Peter was sober and alert and had prayed and been communicating with the Father, he may have received guidance for what was coming. But instead, they were too tired… their flesh was weak.
On the other hand, Jesus was sober and alert and realized the temptation that was at hand. The flesh wants to save itself. The flesh is not interested in doing the will of the Father. Jesus was able to withstand the temptation through prayer to the Father and a mindset to do the Father’s will.
When we are weak and face temptation, do we just give in? Or do we fight and do the will of the Father? I admit that have done both and strive to improve as life continues. I am thankful, however, that Jesus won His battle – and His death cleanses me when I miss the mark.
Matthew 6:39 – And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”
Have you ever gotten to that point in life before? … where you have to stop everything and pray because you were facing something that you dreaded? Or things are so tense that you can’t stand it anymore? Jesus feels your pain.
We need to realize that Jesus was fully human.
Here we see, in Jesus, the battle of the two natures – His human nature and His divine nature. His human nature is telling Him to not go through the whole process of dying on the cross. He should save himself… “let this cup pass from Me.” Even while hanging on the cross, there were suggestions from onlookers stating that He should save Himself if He was God. Can you feel the temptation for the flesh and pride to take over as you read the account below?
Matthew 27:39-42 – 39 And those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking Him and saying, 42 “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him.
The divine nature says tells Him to follow the will of the Father. If you love the Father, do what He says and trust Him. That’s what Jesus ultimately does, but His flesh does not want to comply.
Are you struggling with your flesh today? Jesus knows how you feel. Pray and tell Him about it and give that burden to Him.
Matthew 26:36-38 – 36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. 38 Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.”
Did Jesus really need them to keep watch? No. He already knew what was to come. However, He still wanted Peter, James, and John to be with Him as He dealt internally with what He was about to face.
We need to realize that Jesus wants companionship.
He wanted companionship back then while on the earth, and He wants it now through the Holy Spirit. When Lazarus had died in John 11, Jesus was there lamenting with those who were in anguish, even though He knew He would raise Lazarus from the dead. Now in His time of need, He wants His inner circle to be there with Him. He also wanted them to keep watch and be spiritually and emotionally where He is.
I focus on relationship here because I think it can be easily neglected in today’s Christianity, and it’s the foundation of being successful in following the Father and Son. Today’s Christianity is very self-focused. What do I get out of it? I am saved. I want my prayers answered. I want to be in a position of prominence. I want my seat for Sunday worship. We just had the National Day of Prayer last week – make my country better. Improve my existence on earth. What happens the day after? Do we even pray at all now that the hype is gone?
It is so easy to skip the relationship aspect of Christianity, but that’s want He wants. When is the last time you prayed and did not ask for anything? We need to remember the order of creation. We are cut from His mold. Therefore, if human beings desire relationships, you better believe that God desires relationships as well. I urge all followers of Christ to meet regularly with the Lord, and just spend time in quietness with Him. You may actually hear Him speak to your spirit.
The time is at hand for Jesus to fulfill the Father’s main objective for coming to earth. The disciples did not have a grasp on what was coming. Jesus is distressed and grieved to the point of death. He knew this time was coming. He had mentioned it in the past. However, there is something different when the time comes and He has to face the task at hand. How will the disciples handle the overload of emotions and activity? Jesus comes to grip that He will experience something for the first time… suffering and death.
This week I will look at Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane. The focus will come from Matthew’s account in chapter 26 from verse 36 to verse 46. This is a place in Scripture where we see the true humanity of Jesus in combat with His divine nature.
Upon being arrested by the Judas, who betrayed Him, and the authorities, Jesus stops in Gethsemane to pray to His Father in heaven. The disciples were with Him, but Jesus asked them to sit for awhile while He went with Peter, James, and John to pray. He then asked the three to stay back while He addressed the Father alone.
There are some things we should realize from this short narrative that we will look at as the week progresses.
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