Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Watch and Pray....

"It must never be forgotten that the flesh is weak and naturally inclined to slumber." Charles Haddon Spurgeon

What a great reminder for us today from C.H. Spurgeon. We must never forget that our flesh is weak and is naturally inclined to slumber. We are naturally inclined to stumble and fall headlong into sin. We are naturally inclined to take our sanctification lightly. This quote from spurgeon reminds me of our Lord's instruction to His disciples in Mark 14:32-38.

32 And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray."

33 And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled.

34 And he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch."

As our Lord went off to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane, He gave instruction to Peter, James and John to remain there and watch. What's interesting to me about this is that earlier He gave instruction to the other disciples to just sit there. But, with Peter, James and John, it seems as if He expected more from them. He told them to remain and watch.

Why did He take these three with Him? Surely He did not need them to go with Him. I believe He took them so that they could witness His anguish over the sin He was carrying for us. Christ was wearied with our infirmities. The wrath of God was about to be poured out upon Him for all those who would believe in Him. Also, Christ loved the Father with pefect affection, and the sins which He would carry were an offense to the Father. Imagine having supreme love for your father, yet representing something he hated. Indeed, His soul was sorrowful and troubled. The taste of death was upon Him, as He knew He would have to drink the cup of God's wrath in just a few hours. See His anguish in His prayer to the Father:

35 And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.

36 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."

This was not a routine time of prayer for Jesus. This prayer was a plea to the Father that perhaps the hour of His passion might pass from Him. Christ knew He must die, even if His own flesh (while truly God, He was also truly man) was troubled because of the pain that would be endured. He had a natural fear of death, that is spoken about in Hebrews 5:7. But, He said, "Yet not what I will, but what you will."

37 And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, "Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour?

Here is Christ, suffering and agonizing over the sin imputed to Him, so much so that He admits that His soul is very sorrowful. Yet, His disciples are sleeping, after He gave them specific instruction to remain and watch. How is it that some of us can have the same attitude toward sin? How is it that we can take it lightly when it pressed heavy on His soul? How is it that Christ was in great agony for our sins, yet we are never in agony over them?

Notice that He addresses Peter specifically, who had just told him in the preceding verses that all others may fall away, but he would not. Christ told him that He would deny Him, but he emphatically expressed his belief that he would not. Well, Christ puts him to the test here.

Peter could not even last one hour without neglecting his duty to the Master. Christ had not asked him to watch all night, but only for one hour. How could the disciples hear Christ speak of His soul's anguish, yet fall asleep as He prayed? They seemed little affected by His condition. They were careless in carrying out what the Lord had commanded them.

Clearly, Christ was rebuking them for falling asleep while they were to be watching. However, just as God chastens whom He loves, He also comforts and gives counsel. Though they had failed miserably at keeping in Christ's service, He still teaches them.

38 "Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

What great advice this was to them, to watch and pray so that may not enter into temptation. Christ did not deny that Peter was sincere in his willingness to follow Christ, even to death. He knew that Peter was sincere. However, He also knew that while the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak. When we are not watchful, we are apt to fall into all sorts of temptation. The old saying goes, "An idle mind is the devil's workshop."

When we consider the weakness of our flesh, it should cause us to be quick to pray and be watchful when we are entering into temptation. Romans 8 teaches us that it's not by the flesh that we put to death the deeds of the flesh, but by the Spirit. So, why do we often neglect this? The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak.

Let us not take the anguish of our Savior lightly, brethren. Let us remember that it was for our sin He died, and that He has not called us to impurity, but to holiness. Let us not return like a dog to his own vomit.

My exhortation to us all today is to "watch and pray that we may not enter into temptation."

Be on guard, brothers and sisters.

In Christ's love....

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