Daily Readings & Thought for August 19th. “WATCH AND PRAY”
Today in Ch. 14 we read Mark’s moving account of the events in the Garden of Gethsemane. That evening they had been together in what is known as the “upper room.” This was when what we call “the last supper” took place. As the bread and the cup were passed around (v.22-25) the disciples would not have accepted in their minds what it was all about! Now use your imagination as to the kind of emotion they would experience in the weeks that followed his ascension especially when joined with thousands who had been “cut to the heart” on the Day of Pentecost. Let’s open up our mind’s eye on the heart felt emotion of such occasions – it results in a most heart stirring personal meditation.
After that last supper “and when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives” [v.26]. It is quite a climb and Jesus initiates a conversation about them denying they know him. This leads Peter to declare, “If I must die with you I will not deny you.” [v.31] It is late evening when they come down from the Mount and “went to a place called Gethsemane” and Jesus “began to be greatly distressed and troubled.” He tells them to “remain here and watch” [v.34] What are they to watch for? They have no thought that a band of soldiers will come!
After emotionally praying to his father he returns and finds them sleeping and “he says to Peter, ‘Simon are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour?” [v.37] Their minds were closed to any thought of his imminent arrest – and if they had been aware – would there have been any value in watching for the event to happen?
Jesus next comment is significant, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” [v.38] Jesus means – watch yourselves! Check out your strength – of faith: a lesson for us. The extra couple of words Matthew uses in describing the trauma in the garden have significance, for Jesus says, :Could you not watch with me one hour” [26 v38,40] He was looking for their support – and they failed him: Let us not fail each other – for the time is surely coming when we will need each other – urgently.
In seeking “to interpret the signs of the times” [Matt.16 v.3] – which is a phrase Jesus only used when addressing the Pharisees, the emphasis must be on watching ourselves and keeping each other strong, Our prayers and fellowship will be essential – to maintain our strength of mind so we do not fail as the disciples did – but are ready when “the angels (come to) gather his elect” as we read yesterday [13 v.27].