We are now in the last week of Jesus’ life. His entry into Jerusalem, his final instructions to the crowds and to the disciples. In this final week, Jesus predicts his death by crucifixion in two days. This is followed by the details of the sham trial to be conducted by the religious leaders to trap and murder Jesus. Now Jesus makes two shocking predictions – the one who will betray Him, and the one who will deny knowing him! If ever a spiritual movement looked destined for failure, it would be this last week of Jesus – the leader killed, the followings betraying Him or denying him as they scatter. Three shock waves in this final week. Now the cross is in full view and we see Jesus in preparation for his death.
40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Matthew 26:40-41.
1. Patterns of Failure in Life. Could you men not keep watch with me? In one sense, the disciples did not disappoint. They consistently missed some if not most of Jesus’ teachings on his death and resurrection, they deserted him at his trial and after, and though he predicted Pete’s failure while clearly troubled and distressed (Matt 26:37), even so, they lost any message about vigilance.
2. Guarding against Failure. Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. In Jesus’ final hours, he still instructs on spiritual life and being a disciple and follower. The warning is that vigilance and prayer are the guards against failure and temptation. Lessons not learned now, but later, by the disciples.
3. Explaining the Life of a Disciple. The spirit is willing but the body is weak. In one sentence Jesus summarizes the spiritual life – the writings of Paul in Romans 7. Thee is for every disciple the draw of God through the Spirit and the resistance which comes from the flesh, from our sinful nature. We will never be relieved from this spiritual conflict on this planet; hence, watch and pray.
The spiritual life of a disciple begins with believing in and receiving the offer of salvation in Jesus.
10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. John 1:10-13.
That spiritual life continues with the commitment and vigilance of right decisions and spiritual growth, regular asking God for wisdom for right living and perseverance during hard times.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:2-5.
The spiritual life is as simple and as profound as that. Best to you this week.