He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled.“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
In Mark 14, Jesus is in one of his most distressed moments. He had just celebrated the Passover meal with his disciples, those easily considered to be his best friends and closest people. And now, he is hours away from the most excruciating experience any human can go through. In the coming hours, Jesus will feel extreme physical pain, intense emotional strain, anguishing spiritual darkness, and gut-wrenching relational abandonment. We’re told that the anticipation of this excruciating experience caused Jesus to be “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.”
In his moment of deep distress, Jesus brought his closest disciples with him to pray. But just when Jesus needs their support and care the most, the disciples fall asleep. Notably, Peter is the disciple who, just a few verses earlier, promised that he would never deny Jesus. But we read that he fell asleep three times despite Jesus repeatedly asking him to stay awake.
Have you ever felt like a friend or family member has “fallen asleep” during your time of need? Have you experienced pain, sorrow, depression, or grief, only to look around and feel completely alone? This passage is both a warning and a comfort to us. It’s a warning because it shows us what not to do when trying to support a friend in a hard season.
Even more than that, though, this scripture is a comfort for those of us who find ourselves alone in seasons of anguish. Our savior knows how that feels—He has been there too. It may seem like your friends and family have fallen asleep in your hour of need. Draw near to our suffering savior. He will never abandon you.
- Are you in a season of depression, grief, or sorrow? If so, take some time to sit with Jesus and experience his nearness. You don’t have to say anything, and you don’t need Him to say anything either. Just sense his nearness to you.
- Consider who in your life is in a season of grief that you need to be with. How can you pray for and be with that individual well this season? Reach out to them right now and let them know you’re praying for them, and make a plan to connect with them this week.