Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:40-41
Jesus experienced intense temptation in the Garden of Gethsemane. He wanted to do the Father’s will but He did not want to die this horrific death. The temptation to avoid the cross was very real.
The disciples were there as an encouragement to Jesus. He needed them. He wanted them with Him. They let Him down. You can feel the disappointment in Jesus’ question: Not even an hour?
Part of the problem was that they did not know what was about to happen. I could be wrong, but if they had known of Judas’ kiss (oh wait, they did) or of the swords and clubs that were coming to arrest and put Christ on trial (He told them that too…), then they surely would have supported Jesus in prayer.
The flesh is interesting. When it decides to shut down or flare up, there’s next to nothing that can stop it. Jesus said, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. In our hearts we want to be supportive and noble, people of power and purpose – but the flesh is weak and often keeps us from our higher selves. Jesus teaches His disciples the only path forward in this struggle:
Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.
We need to be aware of temptation and also our hearts that are prone to wander. We need to pray, bringing these hearts to God. We need to be honest with God and others about our true selves, sharing our noble dreams and the weaknesses of the flesh that keep us from those dreams. We need to humble ourselves before God and echo the words of Jesus: Not my will, but Your will be done. (Matthew 26:39,42)
There is no easy way around this. Paul described the battle between the spirit and the flesh (Romans 7 & 8), and we see it clearly with Jesus in the Garden.
Lord Jesus, I worship You for how awesome You are. Thank You for battling in prayer in the Garden, even in the midst of friends who disappointed You. Thank You for wanting the Father’s will above all else. Your obedience in those moments mean my salvation! I live for You today.