So it’s Maundy Thursday – the Thursday before Easter Sunday, when we remember the Last Supper; Jesus reclining with the disciples, washing their feet and eating his last meal with them before being betrayed. There’s so much that you could write about on a day like this, but today I want to talk about what happened after dinner, when Jesus went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray.
Knowing all that was about to happen to him, Jesus had spent the mealtime trying to prepare his friends for what was to come. Then after dinner, “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Mark 14:34), he takes off for a bit of quiet time with his Father, and asks his nearest and dearest to keep watch and pray. You’d think it’d be a simple enough request. Only moments before, Peter had pledged to follow Jesus, even to death. And yet now, in his hour of need, his best friends fall asleep.
I want to be horrified. I want to shout at them to wake up! Can’t they see that Jesus needs them? I want to read it through and pass judgement on those foolish men; to be smug and self-congratulatory and assure myself that I would never do the same. I would never do something so foolish, ignore a request so important. Something that Jesus himself had directly asked me to do.
But then I stop. Swallow down the bitter pill of seeing oneself with clarity and an honest eye. Because the hard truth is: I do. Every. Single. Day. I don’t like to think about it, but that is probably half the problem. Like Jesus’ disciples on that last night, I wonder how much I take in of what God is trying to tell me sometimes? How well do I actually listen to what He is saying?
The Bible gives us all many warnings. “Be on guard! Be alert!” says Mark 13:33. Our time on earth is short, and there is so much work to be done. But in truth, it is all too easy to be distracted by our short lives here, focusing instead on our hopes and dreams, career aspirations, the perfect home and perfect family. Often, like the disciples, I can be found dozing off when I should be pressing in and praying hard:
“Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know the day on which your Lord will come. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in which watch of the night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into”. (Matthew 24.42-43)
None of us know how long our time here on earth will be. None of us know when Jesus will return. If we did, it’d be easy to dig deep when we’re tired. It would be easy to put all else aside and focus on Him. It’d be easy to not get distracted, or worn out, or worn down. The Bible is clear that we don’t have that option. We don’t know.
But we do still need to prepare. To stay alert and awake and focused. To pray that we will not fall into temptation, or be scattered like sheep. Because even when it is hard, when Jesus comes looking for me, I don’t want to be still sleeping.