“Then He said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with me.” (Matt. 26:38)
Perhaps no scene in the New Testament reveals the humanity of Jesus than his need for human comfort and support expressed in this verse. He did not go to the garden alone but took all the disciples but one with him. Once there he chose the three who were to be the leaders of the Apostles to accompany him to the place of prayer. He only needed one thing from them. It was comfort in the form of being there and being aware.
Jesus wanted to pray this particular prayer in solitude because of its great magnitude but his solitude was only a few feet away. He was most likely still in view. Had the three Apostles been as mindful of Him as He was of them they would have been able to offer comfort and support. Instead, they went to sleep. Some think Jesus’s words to Simon were a reprimand but perhaps they are more in the tone of disappointment. Read them again, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?” (Mark 14:37)
Matthew and Mark both tell us that the three Apostles’ eyes were heavy. Luke may give us a clue as to why this is so. His report of the incident was most likely given to him by Peter himself. Here is what he says, “When He arose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow.” (Luke 22:45)
The entire tone of the past few days and especially the events and words at the supper have been depressing to a group of men who had such high hopes of restoring the kingdom. They sense Jesus’s mood and tone and since he is just a few feet away they hear the onset of his prayer. No doubt this change in Jesus was unsettling to the disciples and as their depression grew their eyes began to close. Sleeping is a common result of depression as we well know.
Task for Today: Jesus no longer needs his disciples to wait and watch but many disciples need the comfort Jesus was denied. Who do you know that is struggling today? Might you draw close and sit with them? Let someone know you care. Provide comfort to a broken heart. Be the friend someone needs today. What you do for the least disciple you do for Jesus.