In Jesus’ darkest moments his closest friends were asleep.
We often read of how Jesus seeks out a place of solitude away from his disciples and the crowds that he might pray to his Father in heaven. However, when Jesus went to pray in the garden of Gethsemane he brought his disciples along. As the immense weight of his task began to bear down on him, pressing out tears and drops of blood-red sweat, Jesus sought out communion with his Father and the disciples were there to “watch and pray”. Yet, in this infinitely important time in the mission of Jesus, and the future of humanity, the disciples are unable to either watch or pray.
The garden had become the battleground between the kingdoms of darkness and light, and Jesus stands alone as a one-man army. It is not as though the disciples were not willing to take up arms and fight, rather, they were unable. Three times Jesus returns from praying and finds the disciples asleep, not from disobedience or lack of concern, but from sheer exhaustion. From heavy eyelids. It here that Jesus speaks the well-known phrase, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
This is a fresh reminder that we humans are absolutely unable to save ourselves. Even if we wanted to pay the ultimate sacrifice for sins we could not. Even if we bravely bore the burden of the sins of the world we would fall down decimated by the weight of it. The spirit may be willing, but the flesh is indeed weak. A superhuman hero will not do as a saviour, we need a God-man to bear sin’s impossible load.
We cannot save ourselves. Neither can we sanctify ourselves. Our conversion from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light and our ongoing life in this new kingdom is a work of grace through and through. The inability of the disciples to watch and pray in Jesus’ darkest moments is a reminder that our human flesh is terribly weak and apart from our strong Saviour we are hopeless and helpless. There is no room for boasting in ourselves, only boasting in Jesus. So let us boast in Him.