Tuesday, April 16th
Lull: to cause to sleep or rest; to cause to relax vigilance.
Matthew 26:36-46 (NRSV)
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.” And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”
In the weeks leading up to all of the unbelievable events of what we now call Holy Week, Jesus was teaching, encouraging, sharing, serving and equipping his disciples, so that they would be prepared to carry on after he was gone. He was also warning his disciples about what was going to happen to him- his suffering, death and resurrection. The disciples would become upset and dismayed for a time. Yet, while Jesus was agonizing in Gethsemane, his closest disciples- Peter, James and John- fell asleep. They even did this two more times after Jesus implored them to stay awake!
Either the disciples were utterly exhausted or they were in denial. Knowing myself and human nature, I imagine it was their denial that led to their seeming complacency. They had lulled themselves into believing that nothing would happen to their Master and Teacher. Perhaps they thought that such terrible things could never happen to the One who was able to work miracles. I wonder if they chose to close their ears to Jesus’ words because they just didn’t want to hear them. I wonder if they chose instead to lull themselves into blissful ignorance.
I can relate. In the few months before my cancer diagnosis, I was beginning to feel some signs, beginning to notice that some things were amiss within my body. I would become greatly concerned when I had pain, but then I was just as relieved when the pain subsided. I would tell myself that my troubles were just the minor ailments of aging. I tried to convince myself that something like cancer couldn’t happen to me- I had no family history of cancer, I led a pretty healthy lifestyle, and I had just had my physical exam a few months before. I was choosing the path of “blissful ignorance.”
The truth is, I just didn’t want to know the truth.
May the events of this Holy Week serve as a wake-up call for all of us. May we never take the suffering and death of Jesus for granted. When life is going well- or even when life is routine- we can get lulled into a sense of self-confidence, security and complacency. We allow normalcy to lull us into normal living. We can forget how much we need Jesus and how much he has done to show his love for us.
The truth is, we are desperate for Jesus. We need his love, forgiveness, healing, comfort, strength, compassion, and guidance for this life we are living, in normal and happy times as well as surprising and challenging times. May we never lull ourselves into thinking otherwise!
May we live each day fully awake, aware and appreciative of our need for him… and in doing so, may serve as visible reminders for all who need to know the truth.
All definitions are excerpted from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary at https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/
Cross photo credit: Aaron Burden on Unsplash