Jesus took the three disciples with Him to the Garden of Gethsemane had been with Him on the Mount of Transfiguration. Peter, James and John were the three friends that Jesus chose to stand with Him in prayer during this great challenge.
While Jesus prayed ... his friends slept. While Jesus sweat great drops of blood ... the chosen ones snored. While Jesus cried in agony ... the three men, whom He trusted, slumbered.
Peter, James and John knew that Jesus, the Son of God, was about to die the violent death of a criminal and yet they dozed and drooled.
Three times Jesus came to the disciples ... and three times they were found sleeping.
We become outraged at the seemingly careless actions of Peter, James and John and yet how often have we been caught giving into the twilight of lackadaisical behavior when Jesus calls our name?
We watch television when there are prayers to be prayed.
We read novels when there are people to be loved.
We snore while our culture crumbles.
Just as the Savior needed Peter, James and John ... your Savior needs you. He has entrusted you with the power of prayer. He has entrusted you with the Great Commission. He has entrusted you with the Gospel.
If we learn nothing else from this particular event in the life of Jesus, we should learn to pray while others sleep and to desire the will of the Father above all else. Jesus prayed in this dark moment, "Not my will but Your will be done."
When Jesus finally roused the three from their slumber, they had a view in the moonlight of a mob coming up the western slope of the Mount of Olives. After the mob, led by Judas, seized Jesus, Peter stayed in the courtyard of the high priest. It was there that Peter denied Jesus three times.
I wonder if Peter would have denied Jesus if he had prayed rather than slept. I wonder how different my life would unfold if I would pray ... rather than sleep.
And then, the next day, Jesus was scourged. Do you have any idea what that means? The upper half of Jesus' body was bared and then his hands were tied to a pillar.
Jesus was forced to bend double and his spinal column was exposed. Jesus was then whipped with a 3-pronged whip that was comprised of three leather thongs that were connected by pieces of bone and metal on a chain.
Scourging or flogging, in order to ensure that the prisoner would be weakened and die more quickly on the cross, always preceded capital punishment. The relentless and violent lashing of Jesus' body tore at his skin and bared his flesh to the very bone. Many victims died before they even encountered the cross because of the gross injuries caused by the flogging. Many were paralyzed and few remained conscious after this horrific punishment.
After the flogging, then came the mocking. The soldiers raucously and relentlessly ridiculed the Royal Son of the God of Creation.
Jesus was too weak to even carry His own cross because his torment had already been taken to the utmost limits. There was little life left in His precious Body as He reached the top of Golgotha.
The Man Who had turned over tables ... held children in His lap ... calmed the storms ... and raised the dead ... was now bleeding from every pore in His Body. His lungs were struggling for one more gasp of earth's atmosphere and His eyes were glazed with vicious pain.
I wonder if the guards could hear the Savior gasping for breath. His mother, who had witnessed His first precious breath, now heard Him breathe His last. She had giggled over His first baby gurgles and coos and now she had to stand and hear Him fight the pain.
He could have called 10,000 angels at that moment. They would have come to His rescue! He could have removed Himself from the cross but He chose not to! He chose to contain His power. Why? Why didn't He save Himself from the mockery of hell itself?
He stayed there for you, my friend, because you were the joy set before Him. You were on His mind while He hung on Calvary's cross.
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 eight books, including The Rooms of a Woman's Heart, Defiant Joy!, Holy Estrogen!, No More Ordinary, Refined, Joy For All Seasons, Let There Be Joy! and Pass the Joy, Please! which releases on February 1, 2018.Her teaching DVD, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart, won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming. You can also listen to Carol's "Jolt of Joy" program daily on the Charisma Podcast Network. Connect with Carol or inquire about her speaking to your group at justjoyministries.com.
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