Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane and He said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And He took Peter, James, and John with Him and He began to be troubled and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.”
Gethsemane means “oil press.” It is the instrument that crushes the olives for oil to flow. Without crushing there would be no oil. In the Bible “oil” always represents the Holy Spirit. If it weren’t for Jesus being crushed and dying on the cross for us, we wouldn’t have been given the Holy Spirit.
I find it interesting that Jesus took all eleven disciples into the garden instructing them to “Sit and Pray.” Yet He only took three disciples: Peter, James, and John further, telling them to “Stay and Watch.”
This shows us that as disciples of the Lord we have different jobs—some pray while others are on watchful guard. But often while watching, we can become weary and even guilty as with Peter, James and John who fell asleep on duty. Luke gives us further insight that the inner three were sleeping for sorrow. They were so sorrowful for what Jesus was going through that they were physically and emotionally exhausted. Intercession can be exhausting, especially when there is pain and sorrow involved.
The Lord is very much aware of the fact that we are mere men and women made up of flesh, which is why He told Peter specifically, “The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” He knew that Peter would deny Jesus three times, and He also knew that Peter would be restored and become the leader of the early church.
The lesson for us is that the further in you go to the Garden of Gethsemane the closer you get to Jesus. Though we will at times fall asleep on the job, we must be mindful to pray and watch lest we fall into temptation.
Jesus knew the trials and temptation the disciples would soon find themselves facing so He instructed them to sit, pray, watch and stay. To accomplish these commands, we must stop our busy schedules to “sit,” taking time to pray, which requires entering into His presence, being still and listening. Obedience to Christ also requires watching for the enemy, suiting up and being ready for battle.
Don’t be a sleepy disciple; be alert and watchful because the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8