In a previous post, “Grace through Prayer,” I mentioned that on the night Peter betrayed Jesus, he was invited to spend time in prayer with Christ. On three different occasions, Jesus came back and found Peter (along with James and John) sleeping. Rather than finding the grace he needed to make it through a difficult evening, Peter missed out.
At least three barriers are presented in the narrative that kept Peter from praying and receiving the grace he needed. We have already discussed barrier one: Pride. Now, for barrier two:
Matthew 26 details a busy evening for the disciples. The adrenaline has long since worn off. Now, in the stillness of the evening, physical fatigue is setting in. Jesus understands the situation – He recognizes that the “spirit is willing…” The problem is that the “flesh is weak.”
I remember having the opportunity to go the Holy Land. My wife and I led a small group of college students to visit all the sites. It was truly life-changing. Our last stop was the Garden Tomb. Obviously, when we returned, I was “pumped” on adrenaline. We arrived back home about noon, unpacked, and I was excited to go to all-church prayer time at 5:00 to pray for the revival beginning the next day.
Let’s just say, “I know how Peter felt.” My spirit was willing, but once I got on my knees and became still and quiet – I learned the flesh was weak! It was an embarrassing moment, to say the least. In our humanity, we can justify the need for sleep. What we fail to remember was that Jesus was tired as well. Yet, He prayed while Peter slept.
Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. It’s not unspiritual to get rest. When we try to burn the candle at both ends, and think we can run on adrenaline – eventually we hit a wall of physical exhaustion. It usually comes when we really need to find grace to help in time of need.
Three times Peter will deny Christ. Three times Christ invites Him to spend some time watching and praying. He invites Peter to pray so he will not fall to temptation. Instead, Peter hits three barriers that hindered him from appropriated the grace he needed. We have witnessed two of these barriers: Pride and physical exhaustion. A third one is coming!