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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Heavy Hearts, Heavy Eyes

First off, I want to wish you a very Happy Easter!  I hope it is a great weekend, and that each of us will go beyond the candy, eggs, brunch or dinner, and Easter Bunny to reflect upon the real meaning of this, easily the first or second most important holiday period (depending whether you put Christmas first or second). 

Naturally, with this being the week before Easter, I want to talk about Easter in this post.  But I wanted to find a unique perspective to write about.  There will be a million places that we can find a chronological account of what transpired in the last days of our Savior’s life, and each of them will be better accounts than I’m sure I can give.

So I wanted to talk about Heavy Heart, Heavy Eyes. 

Think back to a time when you were dead tired.  I don’t mean a time when you were yawning while watching The Voice or General Conference (Don’t tell me you haven’t yawned during Conference, right or wrong, it happens to the best of us!).  I’m talking about a time where you were sooo tired that you could fall asleep in the middle of doing something. Like when you’re driving down the road and all of a sudden you open your eyes, suddenly realizing you had fallen asleep, and loud music, cold air from the window, or slapping yourself could not keep you from falling asleep.  I hope you pull over and take a quick power nap when it happens!  But I want to talk about that sort of experience from that very first Easter week.

On the night in which He was betrayed, Our Savior ate the Passover meal with the Twelve, instituted the Sacrament, and then went out to the Mount of Olives, to a place now revered as the Garden of Gethsemane.  He left eight of the twelve near the entrance, and took Peter, James and John further into the Garden.  Then he asked them to pray that they would not enter into temptation, and also that they would watch with Him.  With this instruction given he went further into the Garden. 

We know what happened, he prayed, being “exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death” (Matt. 26:38), so much so, that He would plead that the “cup pass from [Him]” (Matt. 26:39).  After the space of an hour He went back to the three Apostles and “findeth them asleep” and asked them why they couldn’t stay up for only an hour and watch with Him.  This happened two more times that Christ, while bearing all the “pains and sicknesses of his people” (Alma 7:11), would come back to find these, His close friends and the chosen leaders of His Church, sleeping “on the job”, so to speak.

Now I’m gonna say something, if Christ asked you to do something, would you?  If He asked you to stand on your head for an hour, by golly, you’d be doing all you could to stand on your head for 60 minutes straight!  I point this out only to illustrate that I don’t believe it was lack of determination that led to the Apostles falling asleep.  I believe they stayed awake as long as they physically could.  They may have stayed awake for 55 minutes, we don’t know.  What we do know is that they were sleeping when the Savior came back to them. 

We all know the story.  We may even look at them sometimes as we read and say, “Geez Peter, couldn’t you stay awake??  Drink a Red Bull! Take a 5-Hour Energy! Run around the edge of the Garden!  DO SOMETHING!!! But don’t fall asleep, crimeny, Christ asked you to stay awake!”  But I pose this question to you:

Why is this experience included in the scriptural account of all four Gospels (albeit very briefly in St. John)?

I invite you to ponder this question, and I will share with you my opinion later on today or early Easter morning.

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