-submitted by Travis Flora
Our Life Group Bible lesson yesterday centered on Matthew 26:36-46. This is Matthew’s account of Christ’s prayer in Gethsemane on the night of his betrayal. The message we focused on at Life Group was how Christ prayed to God that “Thy will be done” and how He accepted God’s plan for redeeming mankind from sin.
It’s a great lesson, but there’s another one I want to focus on today, and that is the role of His disciples during this event.
From this passage and parallel accounts in the other gospels, we see Christ was surrounded by his 11 faithful disciples when he went to the Mount of Olives (Judas had already left to betray Him). However, we see that even within this small group, there were different relationships and responsibilities to their friend, Jesus.
First, Jesus left eight of His followers at the base of the mountain to keep watch. He knew that Jewish authorities would soon be there to arrest him, so he left these men as lookouts. These men had an important role providing a first set of eyes to watch for trouble. Jesus didn’t abandon them there, he left them with a mission. He depended on them to be there when He needed them.
Jesus then took his three closest friends – Peter, James and John — with him to the garden at Gethsemane. Why? As we see from the passage, it was because the human side of Christ desired what each of us long for, and that is the support of our closest friends. Just the presence of His friends strengthened and encouraged Him.
Compare this with the scene of Christ’s temptation by Satan at the beginning of His earthly ministry, when angels came to support and strengthen Him after the temptation had ended. Now, a little over three years later, no angels were needed. His friends could provide whatever support and encouragement were needed.
I don’t think Jesus is different from most of us in His relationships with his followers, his “church” (as they were “called out” to follow him). We have a great family at Holly Hill who serve as our support network, who watch out for us and can work to shield us from some of the hard times of this world.
But even within that group, don’t we find that we typically have a handful that we are just a little closer with, who we just “click” with? Maybe we have more in common with them. Maybe it’s our age, or our marital status, or our kids are the same age? Maybe we have similar hobbies or talents? Whatever it is, we can usually find a few people that we’re a little closer to, that we relax a little more around, and even that we trust a little more – just like Jesus did with Peter, James and John.
Like Jesus, we need people we can turn to when times get tough. That involves a couple of things. First, we must open ourselves up and put ourselves in a position to draw closer to others. We can’t stand back and wait for it to happen because, guess what, it won’t! We have to make the effort. And we can’t be content with our current batch of friends. We’re missing out if we think our friends list is full.
Second, we need to recognize when others are doing the same around us. We’re all looking for closer relationships, in one form or another. We need to train ourselves to look for those signs as others are seeking to know us better. The last thing any of us should hear from someone when talking about Holly Hill is “Oh, they don’t care about anyone” or “No one ever takes the time to get to know me.”
Third, we can’t fall asleep when we’re needed. As we know from the account of Gethsemane, Jesus returned three times to find Peter, James and John asleep. We read of the grief that caused Him. If that caused grief to the Son of God, imagine the reaction it will have on the rest of us.
Let’s look for ways to CONNECT with others. Let’s open ourselves up to make closer relationships with our current friends, and establish bonds with new friends. Just as Christ needed His friends, we need each other. Let’s make sure we’re not asleep when our friends need us most.
CONNECT is a weekly blog designed as a way for us to get to know each other better, build stronger relationships, and make us better equipped to edify one another. These blogs will highlight members of our congregation, either new converts, new members, or highlight other members to help us know each other better.