A Personal Devotional Journal

I invite you to journey with me. Sometimes we will look at short passages of Scripture and I will give my first thoughts and impressions. Other times, I will just share my thinking about spiritual issues. Always, you are welcome to comment and add your thoughts. Together, we could learn something.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mathhew 26:36-45 "Staying Focused"

Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.”  He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed.  He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour?  Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”
Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.”  When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open.
So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again.  Then he came to the disciples and said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.

This was, without a doubt, the most vulnerable time of Jesus' life.  He knows exactly what is about to happen.  In His humanness, He is struggling.  He turns to His three closest friends for encouragement and support.  He asks them to sit with Him and pray for Him.  Instead, when their friend (and teacher) needs them most, they sleep.  It reminds me of -well, me.  I'm afraid I do a similar thing more often than I am even aware of it.

God has an agenda.  God has purposes.  God has expectations. God has plans for me (and you).  Sometimes I am aware, in tune, on the same page with God and I am obedient.  Sometimes.  Other times, however, I am more aware of my own needs and plans and agenda than I am of God's plans for me.  I get caught up in real life and forget that there are more pressing concerns than my being tired, or hungry, or bored, or lonely -I can get so focused on whatever my own needs are that I am aware of little else.  Just like Peter, James and John.

I am encouraged, though, by Jesus' response.  There is a sense in which Jesus is disappointed, but not demeaning or hurtful.  Jesus is aware of their frailties.  He is disappointed that they are unable to stay focused and be with Him in His hour of need, but He never accuses them of being unfaithful or unloving.  Instead, He looks at their hearts and says, "The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.... Go ahead and sleep.  Have your rest."  I believe He has the same response to you and me when we lose sight of the bigger picture and get caught up in the minor details of our own lives and issues.  He desires that we stay focused and hear and obey; but He understands our frailties and looks at our hearts instead of just our actions.

Lord Jesus, help me today to hear Your voice and obey.  Help me to stay tuned in and focused on Your plans and Your agenda.  I want so badly to please You and get it right.  But sooner or later, I am bound to focus on myself instead of You.  Thank You that when I fail, you don't accuse or condemn; You look at my heart and know I love You.