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Staying Awake

Key References: Matthew 26:31-46; The Desire of Ages, chap. 74, pp. 685-697; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 9, pp. 73-77; Our Beliefs, nos. 7, 12, 14

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“Bear one another’s burdens, and so ful ll the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

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Jesus’ love leads us to support one another in times of need.

Have you ever been on a long car trip and wanted to stay awake to help the person driving not get sleepy? if you had a hard time staying awake, then perhaps you understand the experience of Jesus' desciples when He needed them most.

The 12 friends of Jesus walked quietly, listening carefully to the Master's words. "All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night," He said with sorrow in His voice.

The disciples were taken by surprise by Jesus' affirmation. This group had been friends now for more than three years. They had shared incredible, life-changing experiences. Surely they would be loyal to their Master.

Jesus continued talking: "For it is written: 'I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.' But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee."

Peter could not keep silent. "Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble," he declared.

Jesus looked at Peter sadly. "Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times."

Peter protested. “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” (Matthew 26:31-35). The rest of the disciples supported this affirmation. Along with Peter, all the disciples thought themselves loyal friends to Jesus.

Jesus was leading the way to an olive grove named Gethsemane. At the edge of the grove Jesus paused. “Sit here while I go and pray over there,” He said. He called for Peter, James, and John to go along with Him. He explained to them: “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death.” “Stay here and watch with Me.” Then Jesus walked a little farther ahead. He fell down to the ground and began to pray.

It was as if time stood still for Jesus. The time that would deter- mine the future of the human race was near.

Because in the beginning Adam and Eve yielded to Satan’s temptation the whole world became enslaved to Satan’s dominion. But in His great mercy God devised the plan of salvation even before the creation of our world. Jesus, the Son of God, had accepted to be our substitute to save us if the human race should ever fall into sin. This was why Jesus came into our world.

He knew that to satisfy the requirements of God’s law and save each believer from the penalty of sin He would have to sacrifi ce His own life: “according to the law almost all things are purifi ed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.” “So Christ was off ered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Hebrews 9:22, 28).

God is “of purer eyes than to behold evil” (Habakkuk 1:13). Because Jesus identifi ed Himself with sinful humanity in order to save us, He felt the terrible weight of God’s condemnation of sin. The devil tried to deter Jesus from His mission, suggesting that if Jesus became a substitute to save sinners, He would be eternally separated from His heavenly Father.

As Jesus could not feel the reassuring presence of His Father’s glory, the terrible anguish was crushing His soul. He cried out in despair, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39).

In those moments of distress Jesus longed for words of comfort and encouragement from His friends. But He found Peter, James, and John sleeping. His disciples’ indifference filled Jesus with deep sorrow. He asked them, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (verses 40, 41).

Peter, James, and John awoke briefly from their slumber. Jesus returned to His place of prayer and pleaded in anguish. The destiny of the whole world was in the balance. Would Jesus drink the cup of suffering and humiliation? Would He, the innocent one, sacrifice His own life to save those who were truly guilty of sin?

Then Jesus contemplated the eff ects of sin upon humanity. He recognized that without His sacrifi ce there would be no hope for human beings. They would be eternally lost if they were left to the consequences of their sins. Jesus continued talking to His Father in prayer. Then He made the ultimate decision. He would surrender His life to save us. He prayed, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done” (verse 42).

If only the disciples had watched and prayed for their Master. Jesus longed for comfort. He staggered back to his disciples three times and found them sleeping each time. His best friends on earth couldn’t stay awake when He needed them most.

The Father did not leave His Son alone in His hour of trial. He sent an angel from heaven to comfort Jesus and give Him strength for what was ahead. The angel assured Jesus that by sacrificing His life for sinful humanity, a multitude of believers who would accept His sacrifice would be saved and inherit eternal life. Isaiah with prophetic insight recorded about Jesus: “He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied” (Isaiah 53:11). Jesus was ready for the ultimate sacrifice. He would pour out His life to save you and me. What amazing evidence of God’s infinite love for us!