Palm Sunday Message: Lead Me to the Cross…Follow the Donkey…Find the Cross!
As hard as I tried, I couldn’t.
Evening service at church as a kid…long conversation after a long day…watching a movie…yep, even praying.
I’ve fallen asleep doing all of these…even as hard as I tried to stay awake. Sometimes you just can’t.
I get why the disciples fell asleep. It was a long day…let alone a long week and it was only Thursday. Long days of teaching in the temple. Seems like little on Wednesday, but then preparing the Passover meal. Filled by conversations about betrayal and denial as well as Jesus speaking of a new covenant in his body and blood. Stomachs full. Stress high. They just couldn’t keep their eyes open.
I get it. I more than likely would have done the same thing…even when Jesus asked me to “Watch and pray” with him.
Matthew 26:36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39 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.”
40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
Jesus knew the weight of what falling into temptation created. He was carrying the sin of every individual who gave into temptation. Jesus knew the power of temptation. He too had been tempted in every way. The difference? He didn’t sin. The writer to the Hebrews says,
Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.
Jesus knew how hard Satan works to pull a soul away from him. He already had Judas, Jesus didn’t want to lose any more. Not just the disciples, but you and me. So he directs us to “Watch and pray.”
Watch out for the things that spiritually wear you out.
Watch out for the temptations Satan uses to lead us away from Jesus.
Watch out for the blind spots in your heart, in your mind, in your ego that Satan exploits.
Pray for God’s Spirit of strength to overcome temptation.
Pray for forgiveness Jesus gives as he gave his body and blood for you.
Pray for God to show you the way out of temptation.
The spirit IS willing, but our flesh is weak.
Apply: What specific temptations does Satan get you with? Watch out to avoid situations that may make these temptations easier. Pray for strength of God’s Spirit to find the way to say “No” to temptation. Watch your Savior give himself for you to forgive you when you fall into temptation.
Prayer: Jesus, thank you for your gift of forgiveness in your body and blood. Empower me by your Spirit to be always vigilant to “Watch and pray” so I don’t fall into temptation. AMEN.