They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.” He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
Then he returned and found the disciples asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” Then Jesus left them again and prayed the same prayer as before. When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. And they didn’t know what to say. (NLT)
If you have ever been let down by another human being, rest assured Jesus knows just how you feel. If you have been let down by the very people you trusted not to let you down, he shares your pain. If you have been repeatedly let down by those who promised not to do so, then again Jesus has been there and done that.
When his greatest crisis came upon him, others let Jesus down. They had vowed to support him; they had been taught and discipled by him; they had been through hard times with him. But they still couldn’t help falling asleep when wakefulness was required.
All this reminds us that we don’t live up to our noble intentions. As Jesus says, our spirits might be willing but our human nature is weak. If we fail Jesus, if we don’t keep our fine sounding promises to him, we are not the first or only ones to do so. No use condemning ourselves to a pit of self-hatred. We are only human after all.
Jesus didn’t cast off these sleepy heads after his resurrection. In fact he made the chief sleepy head a leader of the early church. We do not take lightly the fact that we let Jesus and others down. We do not shrug off the pain when others do this to us. But failure is not the end of the journey, but the starting point for a new beginning on that journey.