Friday, April 16, 2010

When Friends Fall

Christ in Gethsemane

Image by Lawrence OP via Flickr

Then He said to them, "My soul is swallowed up in sorrow-to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with Me." Going a little farther, He fell facedown and prayed, "My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will." Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping. He asked Peter, "So, couldn't you stay awake with Me one hour?"
Matthew 26:38-40 (HCSB)

There were three disciples that were extremely close with our savior.  Jesus had invited them along a very intimate moments in his ministry.  There was the time that Jesus raised the daughter of Jarius (Leader of the Synagogue in Capernaum).  That time Peter, James, John, and the parents were the only ones that Jesus allowed into to witness (Mark 5:22-23; 35-43).  Another time He took these same three disciples to the top of high mountain to pray.  While they were there they witness the transfiguration of Christ (Luke 9:28-36). 

On the eve of His crucifixion after the last meal with his disciples Jesus led them to the Garden of Gethsemane.  He asked his disciples to sit and wait for Him as he prayed.  However he invited these three Peter, James, and John to go a little further with Him.  He expressed his great distress "My soul is swallowed up in sorrow -to the point of death."  Then He asks them to do something, "Remain here and stay awake with me." 

These three who Jesus had shared some of the most intimate moments of His earthly life with were there with Him in the moment of greatest agony.  It seems like a simple request, "stay awake with me."

There are moments that we would like our friends to stay awake with us.  Those moments of great distress when it is all we can do to offer up a prayer.  And we might even reach out to them and say stay with me. 

What did they do?  They fell asleep.

Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping. He asked Peter, "So, couldn't you stay awake with Me one hour? Stay awake and pray, so that you won't enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.'
Matthew 26:40-41 (HCSB)

So a second time Jesus asks them again to stay awake.  He also tells them to pray so that temptation would not overtake them.  He explains that they have a weak flesh.  And of course they did what he said right?  No, they fell asleep.

And He came again and found them sleeping, because they could not keep their eyes open.
Matthew 26:43 (HCSB)

There will be times in your life when those that are closest to you are asleep in your deepest hour of need.  They may not be physically asleep, but perhaps they will be spiritually or emotionally asleep.  The point is they will not be there for you.  Those that are closest may not be there when you need them.  What is more it is even possible that our friends could deny us in our deepest need (Matthew 26:34-35 and Matthew 26:74-75). 

At this moment we have a choice.  Do respond in kind?  Do we put up walls to keep from getting hurt?  Do we push them away? WWJD?

John 21:15-19 records Jesus' restoration of Peter after His resurrection.  Jesus forgave Peter his shortcomings and restored him for the greater purpose and ultimately our greater good.  Restoring a friend that has not been there for you or even denied you is a very difficult thing.  But it is what Jesus has modeled for us.  Some might object by saying, "But Jesus is God and I am not that forgiving."  Consider these verses:

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Try to do what is honorable in everyone's eyes. If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone. Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for His wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay, says the Lord. But If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head. Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.
Romans 12:17-21 (HCSB)

or even:

Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you also won't be tempted.
Galatians 6:1 (HCSB)

or even:

For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don't forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.
Matthew 6:14-15 (HCSB)

It is clear to me that even when we are hurt by others that God desires for us to forgive and restore.  I know that is not easy.  But if a person repentant like Peter (and unlike Judas), then we are to restore such a person.  In doing this we honor God and we gain a friend. 

Blessings to you all.

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