Watch and Pray: A Journey in Love
Watch and Pray: A Journey in Love
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he encourages them to follow Jesus by walking in love, as Christ has also loved us, and as he has given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor (Ephesians 5:2). Jesus consistently demonstrates to his disciples how this life of sacrifice is a manifestation of our love for God and for our neighbors—the two greatest commands.
Jesus is about to set his eyes on fulfilling his purpose in coming to earth. Before going to Gethsemane, he gives his disciples an example of how they should live. He washes their feet. When he reminds them of the things to come, Peter, with the others, makes it clear they are ready to fight and die for him. But Jesus reveals the revelation of their heart: “this very night you will fall away on account of me.” They all believed they were ready to stand and fight for, or with, him to the death. He had just asked them only to wash each other’s feet, but never to fight for the cause.
Though they could never conceive of abandoning him, he wanted to show them the difference between their willingness and their weakness. We rarely acknowledge our weakness until we fail. We most often think our will or our resolve will assist us in doing whatever we set our minds to do. But Jesus is constantly showing us that it is not about our will, but God’s will living in us. To do God’s will, we must humble ourselves; we must watch and pray. Our prayer life reflects our strength or weakness. We pray when we are awakened to the revelation Jesus gives his disciples later that night at Gethsemane: “watch and pray, for the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” When tested our resolve often yields to our flesh.
Here we find 11 men who have walked with the Savior for three years. They have witnessed the miraculous feedings of thousands; participated in numerous healings; watched several people be raised from the dead; and were overwhelmed to see how the master could speak to nature and that trees, winds and waves would all obey him. Yet at the end of three years, they thought they were stronger than they were. They remain convinced they would die for the master if they had to fight using their own efforts. They discovered that when they could not fight, they chose flight.
Jesus reveals that our flesh wants to fight for him because we see ourselves on God’s side. Even today the church struggles because we are still trying to fight for him at all costs—even at the cost of our witness and testimony of who he is. Jesus does not call us to fight. He calls us to die. He says: “take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am humble and kind. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
The fruit of our dying and his living in us is humility and kindness, against such there is no law. It is not our effort to fight to be right, but our surrender to his yoke of righteousness. His righteousness reflected in us is still revealed in the washing of other’s feet. Our spirits are willing, but our flesh is weak. So, we follow the counsel our Lord gave his disciples in Gethsemane—Watch and Pray.
Let’s commit to entering this new year by staying alert (watching); recognizing our natural inclination to be served and urgently praying daily to serve him by serving others. In 2022 let’s remind ourselves to watch and pray: “not my will but your will be done in earth as it is in heaven.”