In Part 1 of this Easter post, I went over the experience of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, and how Peter, James, and John were unable to stay awake. And I posed the question of why you think the writers of the four Gospels found their inability to keep their eyes open eternally important.
May I offer up one opinion? Take it for what you think it’s worth, I’m just a 20-something guy doing my best to understand the things of the Spirit to the best of my ability. If there are better observations or explanations, please, please share them with me!
Jesus Christ was a teacher. He came to teach, to expound; to unfold the mysteries of God to our understanding. I believe (again, my limited understanding…) that this experience with these three Apostles was Christ’s final attempt to teach them about His role and about the Atonement.
I want to share a few of the lessons that I think “Peter and the two sons of Zebedee” (Matt. 26:37) most likely learned from this experience, and the lessons that you and I ought to learn from it as well.
1. The Atonement was performed solely by Christ.
a. The Apostles were asked to stay with Christ and “watch with [Him]” (Matt. 26:38), however, in the end they fell asleep and Christ suffered for each of us by Himself.
2. Only Christ was able to perform the Atonement.
a. The Three were to stay there and pray, i.e. stay awake. They were not able. Only Christ was able to withstand the effects of that evening. Likewise, only Christ is able to perform the Atonement.
3. None of us can completely withstand temptation
a. Christ directed the Three to “pray, that [they] enter not into temptation” (Matt. 26:41). They were not able to do so, but three times fell asleep in the process. They could not fully overcome the natural man to keep a commandment given them personally by Christ, the Savior. Only Christ could and did completely withstand temptation.
4. We are expected to do all we can, and then we are saved solely on His merits.
a. Each time Christ returned He awoke them and told them again to pray. He didn’t allow them to just sleep. Even though He knew it was singularly on His shoulders to perform the Atonement, He expected them to do their level best to stay awake, pray and watch with Him. But the third time He returned, He judged their efforts to be sufficient and he told them to “sleep on now, and take your rest” (Matt. 26:45). Likewise throughout our lives we are expected to do our very best to live in a Christ-like manner, and throughout our lives we will fail miserably. But when our lives are over, if we have done all we can do, Christ will likewise judge our efforts to be sufficient, and we will be saved on His merits.
5. Our salvation is in Christ’s hands.
a. Christ sets the terms, and He judges the results. It is His prerogative because of His valiant, selfless act in the Garden, and consequently, on the cross to set the terms of our salvation agreement. And it is also His prerogative to judge whether you and I have lived up to that agreement when we pass from this life.
I am grateful for the inspiration that came to me as I read this part of the Easter experience of my Savior. I know that He suffered in the Garden and on the cross for me, so that I could be perfected. I know that He lives! I am grateful for the lessons that He taught His Apostles and that the Gospel writers were in tune enough with the Spirit to pass on such supernal lessons as these to us. May each of us learn these 5 Lessons that Peter, James, and John learned with Heavy Eyes!
Happy Easter!“Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives: ‘I know that my Redeemer lives!’”