Whenever we’re troubled
and lost in despair,
We have but to seek Him
and ask Him in prayer
To guide and direct us
and help us to bear
Our sickness and sorrow,
our worry and care.
Helen Steiner Rice
Archive for September 25, 2014
Whenever we’re troubled
“Then He returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, ‘Couldn’t you watch with Me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!’
Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, ‘My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, Your will be done.’ When He returned to them again, He found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open.” Matthew 26:40-43 (NLT)
Where are the disciples while Jesus confronts His hour of struggle? While Jesus suffers, pleads, sweats, and prays, the disciples are asleep in the garden. They have had a full meal in the Upper Room. The hour is late, they are tired–so they sleep.
The picture of Jesus’ followers painted here is both sad and encouraging. It is sad that those who are closest to Jesus are unable to be courageous for Him. They are not necessarily evil or perverse–simply tired. Some people lie awake or anxiously pace the floor when they are in the midst of a crisis. Others simply withdraw into depression and sleep. Perhaps the disciples were of the latter variety.
Yet in these sleeping disciples, whom Jesus loved, lies the hope. Being a disciple doesn’t mean we will always be courageous or faithful in our struggles–disciples never have been. It means that we are among those who, even asleep (in Gethsemane or in church) are loved and sacrificed for by Jesus.
“That they all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in you, that they also be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” John 17:21 (NASB)
There is a purpose in Jesus’ desire for the unity of believers: “That the world may believe that You sent Me.” Jesus saw the lack of unity as a hindrance to evangelism. We know from our own experiences that non-believers often cite divisions in the church as a reason for their lack of interest in the Christian message.
“That they may all be one” is not an organizational unity accomplished by man-made resolutions or the decisions of ecclesiastical bodies. Jesus describes our unity in this manner: “as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You.” This unity is spiritual in nature–a oneness in mind, will, and purpose that is expressed in our love for God and for all who have accepted Christ and are therefore God’s children.
What if an unbeliever saw individual Christians loving one another? Wouldn’t they take notice of Christians who sacrifice for one another? Wouldn’t genuine concern about meeting one another’s needs be attractive to the unbeliever?
All true believers must cultivate the unity for which Christ prayed.