39 Jesus left and made his way to the Mount of Olives, as was his custom, and the disciples followed him. 40 When he arrived, he said to them, “Pray that you won’t give in to temptation.” 41 He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed. 42 He said, “Father, if it’s your will, take this cup of suffering away from me. However, not my will but your will must be done.” 43 Then a heavenly angel appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 He was in anguish and prayed even more earnestly. His sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground. 45 When he got up from praying, he went to the disciples. He found them asleep, overcome by grief. 46 He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray so that you won’t give in to temptation.”
Perhaps we can all relate to Jesus’ sense of despair about what will come next. How often have we cried out in pain to God when we are desperately needing help? We can surely understand how Jesus longs for his disciples to stay awake with him in his hour of need. But each time you read this story don’t you just think, what’s wrong with these guys? Can’t these disciples manage to stay awake and pray with Jesus?
Yet, today I am reminded about how we all experience grief and despair differently. Today, I see for the first time how the scripture says, Jesus “found them asleep, overcome by grief.”
I think of the grief stricken crowd from Jesus’ time and I feel a kinship. We can certainly relate to being so grief stricken that we just want to curl up and sleep. Particularly in times of grief, some people confront, while others avoid. Our grief can grip and overwhelm us. We can certainly relate to wanting, wishing and praying so much for a different outcome that we just want the world to stop!
After hearing about centuries of longing, the disciples were about to lose their leader, their Messiah. While we may wish that they had stayed awake with Jesus, we now know that the disciples’ struggles would eventually guide their resiliency. Today we know that they had to experience the loss of Jesus to become his living story tellers. How do we let our grief guide us to do the same in Jesus’ name?
by Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
We all experience grief differently. As we walk through Holy Week, how do you sense the emotions of those who surrounded Jesus? Does grief grip you, holding you back or spur you into action for Jesus’ earthly mission? How has living through grief made you more resilient?
Prayer: Dear Jesus, remembering your final days can leave us grieving. We hurt but know that the events of this week call us to be resilient in Your Name. Guides us this week, Lord. Help us to remember that in days of grief, we have you to hold on to. Amen.