Keep Watch: Jesus in Gethsemane

When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour?-Matt. 26:41(NAB)

In Matthew 26:36-46, Jesus suffered intense agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew the moment of his betrayal was about to transpire. So he called Peter and the Sons of Zebedee to keep watch with him and engage in prayer.

Jesus withdrew three times in prayer, but each time he returned to check the status of the disciples, he was shocked by their response to his sorrowful plea. Peter and the Sons of Zebedee were in cold slumber! At a dire hour for Jesus when he needed his disciples to keep watch, he found them engaged in spiritual laziness.

Their response is indicative of our human nature. We cater to our own interests. Jesus asked them to be vigilant and watchful, but he found them in a state of spiritual stupor. Picture that image: the Creator of the universe thrice called, but his small band of followers was disengaged. How devastating!

The disciple’s response to Jesus’ agony in the Garden conveyed their unconcern for our Lord. Sadly, they just didn’t get the big picture! Thanks to hindsight, we have the benefit of responding effectively this Advent season and practically daily when Jesus encourages us to wait in expectancy for his coming.

Jesus invites us to experience intimacy with him. Jesus had twelve disciples and numerous followers, but he chose three to accompany him into Gethsemane to help carry an intense burden of sorrow through prayer. Even today, he still asks us to find moments where we can experience life with him. Through the Eucharist, Sacrament of Confession, or Eucharistic Adoration, are all intimate encounters with Jesus.

In addition, just as he told the disciples to keep watch, this message is still powerful today! After those seeking Jesus came to capture him, Peter finally decided to take action. How backward! Instead, Jesus had to remind him, “so you could not keep watch with me for one hour? (41).” In Matt 25:13, he encouraged his followers to be watchful because the hour nor time is set for his coming. Every day should be a reminder of fixing our hearts and mind toward the coming of Jesus Christ which means we have to, “gird up the loins of your mind, live soberly and set your hopes completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Pet. 1:13)” Therefore, it is important that we remain in a state of grace so we can be presented irreproachable (1 Cor. 1:8)

In sum, gearing our hearts toward being watchful and embracing solitude with God are the best pathways which can prepare the way for Jesus in our hearts.

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