Couldn’t You Keep Watch for One Hour?
He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”
Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba,[Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour?
In Gethsemane Jesus is “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death”.
If you were writing myth or a fictional account, why would you paint such a vulnerable, weak picture of Jesus? You wouldn’t, not in fiction. But in the Bible, we find not only a powerful Jesus, but a vulnerable one.
What we see here is the humanity of Jesus. As one author puts it, “with astonishing fidelity.” He is shown to be “anything but above temptation. So far from sailing serenely through his trials like some superior being unconcerned with this world, he is almost dead with distress… It is inconceivable that the early church could or would have created a story like this one about Jesus.”
We are sharply reminded that just as Jesus was fully God, he was fully human. He was fully vulnerable, and in that sense, fully weak. He was not immune to emotional pain, disappointment, sorrow, and the full range of temptation and human suffering. Even with his closest friends, he was deeply hurt when they let him down in his greatest hour of need, “Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour?”
No other religion gives us such comfort: to know that we have a God who is not distant and hard of hearing. But one who truly suffered as Immanuel, God with us.
Some people complain, “If only God knew my suffering!” He does. And more.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.” –Heb 4:15
Lord, you walked the earth, knowing our sorrow, enduring our temptations, and shedding your tears. You experienced loneliness, despair, betrayal, and pain. And by your wounds we are healed. Hallelujah what a Saviour.