Don't judge a book by its cover, but don't forget to read the title, either! This devotion by Morley focuses on the disciples at Gethsemane. Jesus had spent about three years traveling and teaching and helping people understand who he was. It was an incredibly important mission because understanding Jesus is so much more important than understanding anyone or anything else. We have to learn that when we understand ourselves, we begin to understand weakness and faults. When we understand other people, we begin to learn how to work together. When we understand the world around us, we begin to understand creation. But when we understand Jesus, we begin to understand God. That is what Jesus was trying to help the disciples do.
How did Jesus help his disciples understand him? Let's look at the record. Jesus had many disciples during his years of ministry. He called twelve to set aside their lives and livelihoods to follow him. When he taught with parables, many people were confused. Jesus would take these twelve disciples aside and explain it to them. When he ministered with miracles, many people came to be healed and blessed. The Gospels tell us that Jesus empowered his disciples out to perform miracles. When Jesus entered Jerusalem, many people greeted him and shouted Hosanna. Jesus took these twelve aside to break bread at the Last Supper.
When the dinner was over, Jesus went with these twelve to the Garden of Gethsemane. That evening he had cleansed the disciples' feet. He had foretold his betrayal. He offered symbols of his body and his blood, and he knew that he was facing an ordeal of excruciating pain and humiliation. These twelve who had left everything behind to follow him still remained. They were a source of comfort and companionship. I am confident that Christ was genuinely glad to have them there. He made a simple request. Stay here with me in the garden and pray. So they stayed. And they slept. Jesus checked on them and found them asleep. I can hear him now. "Hey guys, wake up! Stay with me and pray." Then come those cryptic lines, but so important. "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." Twice more they stayed. And twice more they slept.
I can hear the heartache in Jesus' words. I can also hear the patience, the compassion, and the love. After the disciples had let him down three times on this terrible night, Jesus said, "Rise! Let us go!" He still wanted to be with them. He still wanted them to be with him. They still had willing spirits, and Jesus knew it.
Jesus knows how willing our spirits are today, and he still encourages the willing spirit. Am I willing to go to Gethsemane with Christ? Am I able to stay awake and pray with him? Will I follow him through trials and persecution? Will I follow him? Will I follow him?
Dear Lord, I praise you for your infinite patience and wisdom. I thank you for calling me to follow you. I know that I am prone to weaknesses and faults. I also know that you encourage the willing heart. Give me a willing heart, Lord, and encourage me. Holy Spirit live in me, and make my willing spirit strong so that I may serve you well. Amen.
Grace and peace--