LUKE 20:40, 45-46: “Now when He arrived at the place, He said to them, “Pray that you do not come into temptation…When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, and He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you do not come into temptation.” NASB
OBSERVATION: What do sorrow and temptation have to do with each other and how can I live in victory? In context, the sorrow that I am speaking about in the account of Jesus and His disciples in the Garden is the sorrow of impending loss or disappointment. We could also look at this as the kind of depression that is not clinical but comes from a quick change in one’s circumstances.
What was this change the disciples were dealing with? As they celebrated the Passover with Jesus it became clear that their hopes of the Kingdom of God being established at this moment were replaced with the prediction of Jesus’ betrayal, death, and suffering. Jesus tried to prepare the disciples for what would be a radical change of events.
- “And He said to them, “When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?” They said, “No, nothing.” And He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me: ‘And He was counted with wrongdoers’; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment.” Luke 22:35-37 NASB
Suddenly, their arguments about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom seemed foolish. Why did Jesus continue talking about suffering and death when He was the Messiah? Why did Jesus tell them to change their preparation from His previous instructions? Something was in the air and even though they did not fully understand it – their hearts were filled with sorrow. They grew increasingly depressed.
It is during these times in life that we are most susceptible to temptation. We lose heart, we hide in sleep, and our vision grows dim as we look to the future. At this moment – the enemy comes to try and kill, steal, and destroy the work of God in our life. The enemy does not come in our moments of strength and courage. He comes at the height of our loss, sorrow, depression, and physical strength!
- “Now Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He was hungry. And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Luke 4:1-3 NASB
Whenever Jesus said, “Truly, truly…”, or whenever He repeated something twice, it was something of utmost importance that He was calling us to take note of. When Jesus and the disciples went to the Garden to pray, Jesus cautioned the disciples, both before and at the end of His time of prayer,
- “Pray that you do not come into temptation.”
In the other Gospels, we read this additional exhortation,
- “…for the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
What are the temptations that Jesus is warning us about? I believe there is a primary temptation that opens the door to all other forms of temptations. The primary temptation that we all have to face is that of losing heart. This is what this band of weary disciples was dealing with as they were told to watch and pray but chose to allow sorrow to overcome them and they fell asleep so they did not have to deal with their sorrow.
What is losing heart? It is looking at our circumstances and letting go of our faith. It is to look down instead of up. When we lose heart we are prone to make bad decisions and bad choices. These are not necessarily falling into overt sin, although this too can happen. However, it all starts with a general malaise that causes us to turn from the path of righteousness to the easy path of our own making. This has been the general downfall of God’s people throughout the ages.
The Scriptures are replete with warnings about not losing heart. Yet, Jesus puts a laser focus on this when He tells us to watch and pray! To watch and pray is an active engagement with God and His Word. It faces uncertainty with faith and presses into God’s presence amid our sorrow and loss. It recognizes the willingness and weakness of our human nature and our need for power from on high. It is only in active communion with God through prayer and His Word that we are equipped to overcome this temptation!
- “Therefore, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let’s rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking only at Jesus, the originator and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 NASB
Looking only at Jesus! This is the key to overcoming our sorrow and temptation. It is what the Lord Jesus Himself did as He humbled Himself and prayed to the Father. He is the originator and perfecter of our faith. In His moment of agony in the Garden, Jesus found the strength to endure the cross for the joy that was set before Him. Our victory will be found in this same place. When we are tempted to retreat, to hide, to sleep – we need to press into God’s presence through prayer and the Word!
Lord, forgive me for the times that I have retreated and hidden in times of sorrow, depression, and loss. When everything seems to be changing, when unexpected turns meet me on the road of life, help me to remember that You have given me an example of how to overcome. In the wilderness, You defeated the enemy through prayer, fasting and the Word. In the Garden, You faced the cross with the same. Help me to face every challenge in life by watching and praying!
- “And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” Matthew 6:13 NKJV
In Jesus’ Name!