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Jesus took only three disciples with Him to the Garden of Gethsemane who had also been with Him on the Mount of Transfiguration.
Peter, James and John were the three whom Jesus fiercely desired to stand with Him in prayer. These were the three, Peter, James and John, who were closest to Him as brothers, friends and co-workers.
They called Him their Teacher, their Friend and the Son of God. They knew Who He was ... make no mistake about that.
"He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' Peter answered, 'The Christ of God'" (Luke 9:20).
But on this night, the lonely night spent in the Garden of Gethsemane ... while Jesus prayed ... Peter, James and John slept.
While Jesus sweat great drops of blood ... the great triumvirate snored.
While Jesus cried in agony ... the three friends, whom He trusted, slumbered and rested.
Peter, James and John all knew that Jesus was about to die the violent death of a criminal and yet they dozed and drooled. Where were their hearts of compassion? Were these men the faithful friends that Jesus hoped for or were they mere acquaintances prone to forget matters of eternal significance?
"Then He said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Wait here, and keep watch with me" (Matt. 26:38).
They were unable to wipe the sand from their eyes and thus nodded into sweet dreams while Jesus fought in agony over His destiny and over His purpose on earth.
"He went a little farther, and falling on His face, He prayed, 'O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will'" (Matt. 26:39).
These men of faith and valor couldn't stay up past their bedtime for Jesus. What kind of friendship is that?
These men who had been appointed to carry on in Jesus' stead, couldn't even miss one night of sleep to pray Him through the coming ferocious days?
You know, as 21st.-century Christians, we become outraged at the seemingly careless actions of Peter, James and John, and yet, how often have I been caught giving into the twilight of lackadaisical behavior when Jesus calls my name?
"Carol, could you spend time with Me?"
I watch television when there are prayers to be prayed.
"Carol, could you read my Word this day?"
I read novels when there is wisdom to be attained.
"Carol, could you feed My sheep?"
I piddle around in wasteful behavior while people are going to hell.
"Carol, would you worship Me?"
I snore while my culture crumbles.
Just as the Savior needed Peter, James and John, your Savior needs you and He needs me.
He has entrusted us with the power of prayer. He has entrusted us with the Great Commission. He has entrusted us with the life-changing gospel message.
When Jesus finally roused his three buddies from their self-serving slumber, they had a view in the moonlight of a mob coming up the western slope of Mt. Olive. After the mob, led by Judas, had seized Jesus, Peter stayed in the courtyard of the high priest. It was there that Peter denied Jesus three times.
"I don't know Him."
"I don't know Him!"
"I don't know Him!"
And with each betrayal, Peter became more defiant and angrier.
In the morning light, when Peter realized what he had done, he wept.
Peter, a grown man, cried from the deepest part of his soul.
The opinionated Peter, a rugged and burly fisherman, couldn't stop the sobs.
Peter, a man's man and a leader of leaders, was ashamed of himself. He had betrayed His Savior and His friend. What would his life look like now?
You know, I have often wondered if Peter would have actually denied Jesus if he had prayed rather than slept. I wonder if rather than snoring and slumbering, what would have happened if Peter had stayed on his knees in earnest prayer through the longest night of Jesus earthly life.
I wonder ...
Do you know what else I wonder?
I wonder how different my life would be if I would pray rather than sleep. I wonder if I would have more power to stand for Jesus If I would read the Word rather than read the twaddle of the day.
Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. She has written five books: No More Ordinary, Holy Estrogen!, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart and Defiant Joy! Her most recent book, Refined: Finding Joy in the Midst of the Fire, will be released on Aug. 1. Her teaching DVD The Rooms of a Woman's Heart won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming.
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