The Great Escape
. . . He found them sleeping for sorrow.
I could’ve been a professional sleeper in my youth if ever there was such a thing. It’s what I did best and enjoyed most. Because I was a dreamer, sleep often meant adventure, where I could fly like a bird or spray myself with invisible spray so no one could see me. I was quite the phenomenon. Some dreams were prophetic (I realized later), but most just took me to those other-than places we’d all rather go to. Sleep was my great escape, the cure-all for life’s less-desirable moments such as when the powers that be decided our senior commencement practice should be on a Saturday—that sacred first day of a student’s weekend. I would’ve missed it had my mom not wakened me at 3’oclock. Or when I heard that my wayward husband (in our before-Christ days) had beaten a man almost to death with a baseball bat. I could've slept for weeks over that one.
So, when I read the story of that pivotal night in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus found His disciples sleeping for sorrow, I could relate. Sleep is what one sometimes does when unable to process with the analytical mind such disturbing information as Jesus had given them in the last few days before His crucifixion.
He’d warned them of dark days ahead—of wars and rumors of wars, nation rising against nation, earthquakes, famines, pestilences, fearful events, great signs in the heavens, persecutions, even death at the hand of those who believed they were doing God a great service. Time and again He told them to, Watch therefore . . . Watch therefore . . . Watch with Me. And did I mention, Keep watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation?[i]
Then there was the woman with the alabaster jar of perfume, and Him saying she was preparing His body for burial. At their Passover meal, He spoke of His betrayal at the hand of one of them, of their abandoning Him in His darkest hour, of His suffering and crucifixion. In a little while you will see me no more, then after a while you will see me.[ii]They couldn’t fathom what He was saying. What did He mean by, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices . . . you will grieve but your grief will turn to joy?[iii]
Feelings of helplessness to change things no doubt were quite palpable. Sorrow had numbed them and finally overpowered them. That’s why they slept.
Perhaps the church today is experiencing some of these same feelings of helplessness. As times grow darker and disturbing end-time events Jesus said must happen unfolds before our eyes, have we too contemplated the great escape? Feeling powerless to change the course of this freight train of events speeding toward us, have we fallen into a deep spiritual sleep and become paralyzed?
Watch therefore . . . Watch therefore . . . Watch with Me. And did I mention, Keep watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation?