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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood


Falling Asleep?

May 11, 2014

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” (Mark 14:37,38, NIV)

Peter is not the last disciple to fall asleep on Jesus.

It’s hard work to pray. Often it’s much easier if the Lord simply asks us to spring into action. But He knows actions can go terribly awry for the follower who has not preceded action with prayer. No wonder Peter later cuts off an ear of the servant of the high priest. If he had done what the Lord asked him to do — pray — there would have been a different result.

It’s not a comforting word Jesus speaks to Peter. It’s a sorrowful word. At the most critical juncture in the Lord’s life, He finds He cannot count on the disciples — the very closest disciples in whom He had invested the three years of His public ministry.

The prayerlessness of Peter and the others must have been an added weight on Jesus’ heart as He agonized in Gethsemane. But how many times have we broken the heart of the Lord? Were we asleep when we should have been awake to what He wanted from us? Not necessarily physically, but asleep to opportunity, vision, need, prayer. The Lord asks us to stay awake.

Jesus’ words contain both warning and grace.

The warning is, if we don’t watch and pray we will fall into temptation. Watching is an attribute of staying awake. It relates to more than just keeping our eyes open. It has to do with alertness.

You can be awake physically, with eyes wide open, yet stumble into sin. Morally, spiritually, emotionally — you fell asleep. It’s like driving a car. When you take your eyes off the road, get distracted, or reach for your cell phone or map, you can quickly drift off the road or into an approaching car. You took your eyes off what you should be doing.

That’s one of the crucial aspects of sin. We fall asleep to danger — often not willingly, but carelessly. What Jesus says to Peter, He also says to us: “Watch!”

But, immediately after the warning comes the word of grace. Our Lord knows how frail Peter is, and how frail we are. He acknowledges what Paul later talks about in Romans 7 — that what we want to do we fail to do. We want with all our hearts to please Him, but our human nature is also weak. Incipient in Jesus’ warning for Peter to stay awake is His knowledge that Peter may not. That does not lessen His love for Peter. He wanted Peter to succeed, but Jesus loved him even though he failed.

Ultimately, Peter’s failure hurt him more than it did the Lord. He experienced subsequent shame and embarrassment. Twenty centuries later, we still see his failure. But Peter’s failure also gives us hope, for it shows us the Lord’s love and grace toward us does not fail. Jesus never gave up on Peter, and He does not give up on us.

That grace is not meant to give us an excuse to go ahead and fall into temptation. The Lord is serious when He says, “Watch!” Let’s pay heed ahead of time more to His warning than to His grace lest we too fall as did Peter.

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, may I remain alert today, not fail You, nor bring shame to myself.

DR. GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.



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