We Must Watch

He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “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.”  – Matthew 26:39-41.

For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. – 1 Thessalonians 5:2-8.

The members of the Taiwanese military have a new order to obey, and they are unhappy about them. The new order commands that “Servicemen should avoid napping or resting with their eyes closed while taking public transportation to maintain the image of the armed forces.” The soldiers are expected to participate in night training and because of that it is not unusual to see them closing their eyes for a little nap while traveling on buses, trains or other public transportation.

We understand why the Taiwanese service members want to close their eyes for a nap. We have been there ourselves when we are so tired and sleepy that before we know it even when in a public place we find that we have nodded off for a moment or more. Our bodies simply need some rest and at some point whether we intend to or not they will shut down to obtain that rest.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was engaged in a great spiritual battle, and He was fighting it through prayer. By this point in time, His disciples should have also understood that there was this battle going on, and they should have been praying for Jesus and for themselves. Instead, they had closed their eyes in sleep.

In the apostle Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, God is telling us something similar. Jesus is coming back and that could happen at any moment or any day, just as He came back to find His disciples asleep. Will He find us asleep too?

There is more here than whether we are sleepy or not because we too are engaged in a colossal spiritual struggle. It is going on all around us, and we are involved in the battle, whether we want to recognize it and join the fight or not. This is not a battle that can wait for when we have some spare time, and we don’t happen to have anything else important to do. No, this is a war, and we are in the midst of it. We must keep our eyes open to what is happening! We must be alert to the advances of the enemy! We must be on guard against the temptations and struggles that may be around the next corner.

Jesus knew that ahead lay the cross, and He willingly carried His cross, His instrument of execution to Golgotha. Jesus says in Luke 9:23, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Are you watching? Will you put on the “breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation” and take up your cross each day following Him into the battle?

(In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus knew that ahead was Golgotha. Jesus was engaged in a mighty battle through prayer and He wanted His disciples engaged too. The battle has not ended and we should be fighting the spiritual battle with our Lord today.)

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