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Watch and Pray

Mark 14.32-42
And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray." And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch." And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, "Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will." And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, "Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. And he came the third time and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand."

What do you do when you are distressed? Perhaps you are feeling anxious in this time of waiting. Waiting can be very difficult. You hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Maybe you have stocked up on groceries or binge-watched your favorite shows, but you’re ready for things to get back to normal. You may be lonely or at wits’ end.
It is important for us to note what Jesus did in the face of suffering and distress. Jesus is fully God and fully man. What a blessing that God revealed himself to us in Jesus—the God-man. Jesus is human so we can identify with him. Jesus is obedient and fulfills his mission, but in the Garden of Gethsemane we see that Jesus was in anguish. He is willing to bear the cup of suffering and be our substitute on the cross to become sin for us and take the punishment for our sin—God’s wrath—on himself. Jesus often went to his Father in prayer. One usually prayed standing with arms lifted toward heaven, but Jesus falls to the ground in his lament. He is honest with his Father. If there is any other way, he would prefer that; however, he submits to the Father.
We can see from Jesus that our first response in a time of distress is to pray. We can also seek support from friends and family. The eleven disciples, particularly Peter, James, and John, had told Jesus they would not fail him even though Jesus told them they would. They are not even able to stay awake and join Jesus in prayer. Jesus encourages them not to depend on their own strength and fall into temptation but to depend on God when Jesus says, “Watch and pray.” Even if our friends don’t understand or cannot help us, we should focus on the purpose God has for us. Our rebellion in the Garden of Eden led to death, and Jesus’ submission in the Garden of Gethsemane leads to new life through Jesus’ death on the cross. In this time of waiting, watch and pray.