Seven lessons from sleepy disciples

Some Holy Week notes on Matthew 26:36-46

1. The leader keeps the vision clear, because the disciples don’t. Disciples are learners. Though they know increasingly much, they still don’t know everything. Jesus knew what the evening was about. The disciples didn’t. It’s what leaders learn to do.

2. Even earnest followers fall asleep when their stomachs are full. If you want to stay awake, you have to plan.

3. Even people close to Jesus don’t always see his heart. Peter, James, and John were the disciples closest to Jesus. If anyone should have been able to read him, they should have. Matthew makes it clear that even before he left them behind to go and pray, Jesus was showing signs of anguish. But there isn’t any evidence that they noticed.

4. Jesus stays in relationship with people who fall asleep when they should be praying. The first time Jesus found them sleeping, he awakened them. The second time, he let them sleep. The third time, he awakened them again because it was time to go. He wasn’t angry, however. He seems to have understood. Which is important to people who fall asleep while reading the Bible. Or praying. Or writing blog posts.

5. Sometimes you don’t know how close the end is going to be. The disciples fell asleep, not realizing that this was the night before Jesus was going to die. They may have assumed they would have plenty of time.

6. Jesus invited the disciples to follow His example in praying. He had gone away to pray lots of times. This time, he only goes a short way. And he encourages the disciples to pray while he is praying.

7. Jesus loved losers. Even in the hour before he’s betrayed, Jesus cares for and about the disciples. Most people would despair or get angry. He doesn’t.