Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.”
Matthew 26:38 NASB
We are told that Yeshua became agitated and deeply sorrowful as the time was drawing near for His crucifixion. He went into the garden, the reflection of the Father’s heart and shielding, to wait with those closest to Him. He declared that His purpose was for both these present and for those who would believe because of their word-us! He asked them to join Him in prayer though He went a little ways away from them. They knew something significant was going to happen yet they couldn’t stay awake! Weak flesh, indeed.
If we are anticipating something good, it is usually pleasant to consider while we wait but if we are anticipating something difficult, the pain seems to mount as we get closer. We are watching and waiting for the fulfillment of our Abba’s plan from before the foundation of the world was set. As it was for Messiah, there is joy set before us in this watching, but there is also awareness of great distress, never before known or seen on earth that must come, too.
How are we doing watching and praying when both sorrow and joy are expected?
Our maturity, personality style and faith will be revealed more fully in such circumstances. Are we among those who isolate during stressful times, perhaps hoping to avoid the pain, or do we prefer to stay in close relationship and touch with loved ones? Are we poorly or well equipped to quietly wait and watch and pray without being overwhelmed by awareness of what is to come? Can we see all the little trials and tribulations He has been using to train us up for this?
This watching and praying in the garden was and is almost like a “pre-grief” expression. Funerals are opportunities for people to be together in grief, drawing support from one another after a loss. For Yeshua, there was support offered while He was preparing for this pinnacle event of His life. He was anointed while at dinner, and then asked his talmudim/disciples to be with Him as He waited.
Do we have any doubt that, as He said, He could have called myriads of angels to defend Him had He wanted to refuse this cup? Still, even knowing what had been intended from before the foundation of the world, and knowing that He would accomplish His plan, He was deeply pained.
“And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”
Luke 22:44 NKJV
Would we expect to go through this current watching and praying at the end of the age with any less of a struggle? Will we desire to sleep or wait with Him through deep anguish? Isolation or relationship?
He wanted privacy but not to be entirely alone. Even as He drew closer to our Father, He made sure that His followers weren’t entirely alone either; the smaller group of three which was closest to Him; and the larger group a little further off. They could be close to one another as they watched. He even knew that they wouldn’t actually stay around and watch once the soldiers came but still invited them to be with Him.
Love for these and for those, even when spiteful and causing Him harm, held Him to the plan of the ages. That time, He bore the sin and the pain of shedding His own blood. As we are watching and praying with Him now, He must be nearly standing, having risen up from sitting at the right Hand of Elohim, knowing the time is nearly here for Him to be released and return. This time it will not be His blood that is shed.
As painful as it was to experience, do we imagine that it is any less painful to bring forth the judgment that must come on the masses of people who remain unrepentant and in rebellion to the One who loves them most? He will be treading the winepress of YHWH”s wrath! The wrath of the Lamb will be a terrible thing to see and experience for those being judged.
As a child, when your parents said something like; “This hurts me more than it hurts you” did you believe them? As a parent, now bearing the knowledge and responsibility to correctly discipline sons and daughters have you found it more easily understood? How much more is the pain and grief of our Father for His sons and daughters lost for all eternity.
At the same time, what an incredible deep joy must be welling up for those who have paid the price and will be told that they have done well; for those wise virgins who have kept their lamps ready to go in with Him to the bridal chamber.
Earlier, when the talmudim had asked about what it would be like at the end of the age, He had described the separation of the sheep and the goats; some going away to destruction and some coming with Him to everlasting life. Again, this watching includes an intense combination of anticipatory sorrow and joy.
I believe we shouldn’t be surprised by this intense combination of emotions as we watch and pray in these days of gathering darkness. There are forces at work to scatter us or put us to sleep once again. This picture has played out over and over again through the ages; from Adam and Eve being sent out of the garden, the scattering of the Israelites under Egyptian bondage forced to do more with less fanning out to find even poor quality stubble with which to make bricks, the scattering of the Israelites among the nations of the world, and to the scattering of those whom He’d asked to watch and pray with Him. The sleep of death and deception also appears over and over.
There is much darkness and danger in the world, especially for those who stand with Israel. Intense emotions stir political and military activity just as it did in the first century. Our personal tribulations could have strengthened and matured us to be able to watch and pray with Him, even when we feel sorrow and anguish. They could also cause us to scatter, some temporarily and some forever.
Will you watch and pray with Him in confidence, fall asleep or be scattered?
Lord, we believe! Help our unbelief!