This is a wonderful day and time when we can listen to what the Lord is saying to us at this present time. We have never experienced something like this and we will possibly never experience it again. When the Lord puts you aside He wants to speak to you and to your family.
36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He told His disciples, Sit down here while I go over yonder and pray. 37 And taking with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to [j]show grief and distress of mind and was [k]deeply depressed. 38 Then He said to them, My soul is very sad and deeply grieved, so that [l]I am almost dying of sorrow. Stay here and keep awake and keep watch with Me. 39 And going a little farther, He threw Himself upon the ground on His face and prayed saying, My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will [not what I desire], but as You will and desire. 40 And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and He said to Peter, What! Are you so utterly unable to stay awake and keep watch with Me for one hour? 41 All of you must keep awake (give strict attention, be cautious and active) and watch and pray, that you may not come into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. 42 Again a second time He went away and prayed, My Father, if this cannot pass by unless I drink it, Your will be done. 43 And again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were weighed down with sleep. 44 So, leaving them again, He went away and prayed for the third time, using the same words. 45 Then He returned to the disciples and said to them, Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of [m]especially wicked sinners [[n]whose way or nature it is to act in opposition to God]. 46 Get up, let us be going! See, My betrayer is at hand! Matthew 26:36 – 37 (Amplified)
It is interesting that Jesus took three of his own with him – not all, only three. Three has a meaning in God’s word. Are you amongst those three? The last few hours of the life of our Lord Jesus Christ were very difficult. He took three disciples with Him to comfort Him during this time. He wants us to be with Him. He wants to use us. In this difficult time He was filled with grief and distress. He says, My soul is very sad and deeply grieved, so that [l]I am almost dying of sorrow. These words help one understand the depth of the suffering Jesus went through. The Lord has need of you now. He needs you to work in His kingdom. Possibly you are not sleeping in a physical sense, but you are busy with your own affairs, plans and ideas.
In this text, He went with three of His disciples. He prayed three times. He woke the disciples three times. The number three in the Bible represents wholeness, completeness and perfection. It is used to place a divine stamp of completion or fulfilment on the subject. What the Lord did was perfect. How often has God not spoken to you already? How many times has He not come to you? How do you know whether your three times are over? The Lord has a reason for everything and if we are slow to understand or take His speaking lightly, the time may come when He will leave you to sleep. He prayed three times and said, My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from Me…He woke His disciples up three times. The Bible stipulates exactly what happened. Do not take it lightly when the Lord speaks to you. Do not think that He was ‘just speaking’ and allow it to pass by. Your opportunity may pass by. After the third time, the Lord said, “Let’s go, the devil will have his way now.”
The devil often traps us because we do not listen to and realise the significance of what the Lord says to us. Possibly He has spoken more than three times already. We must heed His warnings. Recently, as I was working, I got out of the vehicle when my thumb got caught in the door. It was very painful. Immediately I knew that God was speaking to me. Are you aware of it when God touches your life? Do not simply regard it as a mistake or another happening? Seek the answer from the Lord. Mistakes will happen. You are born, you die. Do you ask the Lord why you were born and what He wants you to do in this world? Why did He create you? Before you die, make sure that you are right with your Lord.
The Lord prayed three times. He fell onto the ground. Can you imagine such a prayer? Can you imagine such a wrestling with God? This might be why our lives are as shallow as they are because we do not fall face down onto the ground in our supplication to Him. I take my time but the Lord prayed and pleaded with his Father. He said, My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from Me... Do you hear? That was the easy way out – the natural way out? But what did He say, nevertheless, not what I will [not what I desire], but as You will and desire. He learned to bow. The Bible says that we learn obedience through the things which we suffer. Do you hear that? This is how we learn. If we want to learn, we must have an ear to hear when He comes to us three times. The Lord submitted to his Father in heaven – even at the cost of His life. Abraham experienced this when he had to sacrifice his only son. No wonder God could use them! They knew how to bow and listen. If someone tells you to jump, do it. Do not argue against it. You should only ask how high you should jump. How many times do you go against that which people try to tell you? Many mistakes and sins are committed because we follow our own will. In the world we are often taught how to become important and noticed, but not often to submit and obey. Think back of sins and mistakes you have made – and why? Because you followed your own hard head. There is a German saying: the will of man is his kingdom. Is that the reason when you hear God’s word, you translate it into your own way instead of bowing and submitting to God’s will? Your own hard head will cause you much anguish and great distress. Look back and you will see that when you followed your own inclinations and desires, what you did was in vain. Friend, then darkness and confusion and distress follows. Does the Lord still come and speak to you? How great that darkness and distress is if the eyes are blind. That is why you teach a child and bend its will before it is three years old. Break the will. Why? So that the child learns to bow.
Many people hate discipline. but great are the rewards if a person submits to that discipline, whoever it might be. In this text the Lord yielded to the will of the Father in heaven. That alone, that submitting, must have done something inside Him, it must have encouraged and strengthened Him. It is a struggle to bow but great is the joy and strength that comes from it.
After the Lord had prayed for the first time he said to His disciples, “Can’t you watch with me for one hour?” He instructed them, then He left and prayed for the second time. When he returned to them, he left them sleeping. Think of it, the Lord leaves you asleep, even in the greatest need, He comes and says, “I have spoken. Remember what I have said to you. What else must I say to you?” This is the hardest – when somebody looks at you and does not say a word because you know what he wants, you know what he is saying. Blessed is that father who, when he looks at his children, they understand what he says and they do it. But when you have to convince them and plead with them – that is something else!
Jesus left them and returned the third time and then He said, “Come, wake up now, the hour is at hand. The hour is at hand, the time has come.” What a shock it must have been for them! What did they feel? What did they experience? They knew they had slept and suddenly the evil was upon them.
Have you woken up from your spiritual sleep? Do you see and understand? It is one thing to listen but another to listen and do. Oh, for the grace of God that wakes us up, that does not give up on our sinful lives. What would we be without that grace and without the perseverance of our Lord in our lives? Where would we be? How wonderful, how sweet when the Lord Jesus speaks to you through his word or whatever it might be.
Christ taught them a life lesson when He came the first time. He said, “Watch and pray” This was meant in the deepest sense of the word, when it was most difficult. This was the watchword of the early Christians in Jerusalem. The Lord said, “I want you to understand that the flesh is weak, it does what you do not want it to do – but the spirit is willing. You are prepared to die with me but be careful, the flesh is weak. Do not give place to it. People possibly do not understand that the flesh is weak. One has to be very careful but by God’s grace you can conquer it and live above it.
When the revival started, Reverend Stegen and those with him learnt this lesson from the beginning. One day when they were together, a board appeared on the wall and written on it were the words, ‘Watch and pray.’ Watch and pray. You must learn to watch in order to take note of how the devil works, of how he attacks. I believe with all my heart that those three words have kept us since that time. Where would we have been if there were not people who knew how to watch and pray? Now the Lord is teaching us the same message. When it is the most difficult, watch and pray. When things go well and you are in the clouds, thanking God, watch and pray because that is often the most dangerous time when we lower our guard. Why should you watch and pray? Because of temptation. There are many types of temptation which can lead to sin if you are not careful.
The Lord warned his disciples and said, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! Luke 17:1 Temptation will come but do not follow your own brain. Man can also tempt you. Friends, one of the worst temptations is when people say something to you about somebody else, you are tempted and believe it – it may be regarding someone whom you respect – he says something about a person which he does not have the guts to say to his face. Those who listen are tempted not to watch and pray. Eve was tempted in the same way. She was told that her eyes will be opened but she fell into a great darkness. Jesus taught His disciples in the Lord’s prayer about this issue. The Lord knew His disciples – what they were and what they were up to and He said to them that they would be tempted and forsake Him.
People tend to be like this: some see dark clouds and stormy conditions, whereas others see a silver lining around the clouds. Never yield to discouragement no matter how sorely you are pressed. When you see your own self, your own shortcomings you can become discouraged and wonder whether things will work for you. Never give in to that. He made a way for us all and said with every temptation He would give us a way of escape – a way out. We are often tempted to be discouraged but when we fall into discouragement, we cannot resist the wiles of the enemy, much less pray. Friends, we will very often face pressures from different angles. We will experience things and see no way ahead. Every time you turn away from the darkness of sin there is a power and strength that you receive. You gain this strength by turning your back on the darkness, by resisting and overcoming. When God wants to bring power and strength into your life, He adds pressure. You will only understand this when you have experienced it. When circumstances are difficult and you experience a thousand temptations and when you are down, there is a heavenly force which Christ generates within if you listen and bow to Him.
Through creating friction certain machinery produces power. God does the same thing in our lives. The pressure of temptation and things that seem against us further His cause in our lives. Do you understand now why you have to go through pressure, trials, temptations and hardships? God uses this in our lives to purify and sanctify us and enable us go forward. This is why the Lord told us to watch – we must look and learn. Make that your watchword. Make it part of your life. When the Lord comes, watch. Listen to what He says. Watch, listen and then pray about it.
Then we begin to understand why the Lord has said particular things. At that moment when Jesus spoke to the disciples the meaning was hidden from them. And you are those who have remained [throughout] and persevered with Me in My trials; Luke 22:28 (AMPC) The disciples were with Him. They persevered with him there where the Lord wanted them to be, not on the outside.
31 Simon, Simon (Peter), listen! Satan [e]has asked excessively that [all of] you be given up to him [out of the power and keeping of God], that he might sift [all of] you like grain, 32 but I have prayed especially for you [Peter], that your [own] faith may not fail; and when you yourself have turned again, strengthen and establish your brethren. Luke 22:31 (AMPC)
It was the same with Job. Satan said to God, “Take that protection away, take these things away and you will see how Job reacts.” The devil said, “Move away from them (the disciples) so that I can test them and you will see what will come out!” Job stood. The disciples stood, except one who had sin in his life, who was not prepared to bow and go God’s way.
Jesus has possibly said, “Dietmar, I prayed especially for you.” If God says such words, how should it make you feel in your heart? That Jesus prayed especially, “For you, Peter that your own faith will not fail.”
9 For behold, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations and cause it to move to and fro as grain is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least kernel fall upon the earth and be lost [from My sight]. Amos 9:9 (AMPC)
Just as people sift flour, the devil wanted to, and Peter made a mistake – he left his Master. But he cried and sought forgiveness. No wonder the Lord had to pray for Him. The Lord knows you and that is why He prays for you more often than you think. The Lord specialises in those who are the least, nothing, the least kernel. They are His speciality. That is why the Lord chose fishermen, people who were nothing and He made something out of them.
The Lord said, “Peter, I know you, I know who you are, I know what character you have. Peter, I have prayed for you that you will not fail in your faith.” We do not always grasp what occurs in the heavenly realm when the Lord looks at our lives and says, “James, Cobus, wherever you are, I’m praying for you like I prayed for Peter.” The Bible says that the Holy Spirit pleads our case. He utters prayers that we cannot imagine. That is why when the Lord went to Gethsemane, in one of His greatest moments of agony He took Peter with because he knew what Peter would become. Doesn’t that say something to us; in our greatest need, trials and in whatever way we may be bombarded, when the evil day comes and you are shot with many arrows, even in your mind, the Lord prays that you might overcome and stand.
Jesus was counted among the transgressors. Men of God are also treated in the same way and we are not surprised when they are blamed because Christ Himself was treated like that. The holy Lamb of God who had no sin was counted among the transgressors. He was nailed to a cross because He was a good man. That is the evil heart of man.
Throughout this ordeal the Lord was teaching His disciples. He said that they would meet up with things that they would not understand and when everything had happened the Holy Spirit began opening their spiritual eyes to the truth. In whatever experiences we face, the Lord wants to see where you stand. Even if you are sifted – where do you stand? In the past you have possibly thrown in the towel and said that it is too difficult. …but I have prayed especially for you [Peter] that your [own] faith may not fail… Peter, I have prayed that you will stand and overcome.
As we advance into this year and we see the darkness and fear that covers the planet, let us ask the Lord what He would like to say to us? The Lord may have put you behind locked doors in order to wake you up when He speaks to you so that you can hear what He says.