Summary: This sermon looks at how we fall into a spiritual slumber
A gentleman told of an experience that he had. He said, “I was recently driving all night to get to a far-away destination. By morning I still had some distance to travel, but was getting very tired. I decided to stop at the next city I came to and park somewhere quiet to catch an hour or two of sleep.
Unfortunately, the quiet place I chose happened to be one of the city’s major jogging routes. No sooner had I settled back to snooze when there was a knock on my window. Upon looking out I saw a jogger running in place, eager to ask me a question.
‘Excuse me, sir,’ the jogger said, ‘do you have the time?’
I looked at the car clock and answered, ‘8:15.’ The jogger said thank and left.
I settled back again, and was just dozing off when there was another knock on the window…and another jogger.
‘Excuse me, sir, do you have the time?’
‘8:25,’ I answered as nicely as I could, but I was getting frustrated. The jogger said thanks and left.
Now I could see other joggers passing by and I knew it was only a matter of time before another disturbed my much needed rest. To avoid the problem, I got out a pen and paper and put a sign in my window that read, ‘I do not know the time.’
I had just fallen back to sleep when there was another knock on the window.
‘Sir, sir? It’s 8:45!’”
I know that we can all feel his pain. We all have had experiences where we have wanted to sleep so bad but it just doesn’t seem to be in the cards. Whenever we drift off the phone rings or someone knocks on the door, or the kids come wake you up, or the preacher raises his voice. Sleep can be such a wonderful thing. But like anything, it has it’s time. There is a time to sleep and a time not to. As we continue in our series on Questions that Jesus Asked, in today’s text there were some disciples that couldn’t seem to stay awake. Now was not really the best time for them to sleep, but they couldn’t seem to stay awake.
We all know that the Garden of Gethsemane was such a emotional time in Jesus’ life. We see that Jesus was overwhelmed with sorrow and trouble about what laid ahead. Now Jesus took his inner circle of three farther into the Garden with him. Although he had poured his life into all of the disciples there seemed to be a closer relationship with Peter, James and John. Jesus had formed a special bond with them. It was only these three disciples that had witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration. The other eight at this point remained farther behind, maybe even back at the entrance. Jesus went off and prayed and we remember the prayer well. “My father if it is possible may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Then he comes back to Peter, James and John and found them asleep. It was a time where he needed them to be watchful and in prayer. Jesus was facing an excruciating time ahead. He needed their strength, yet their concern just didn’t seem to be what it should have been. Jesus also knew that they would be coming for him at any time and he needed the disciples to be alert and on watch. Thus his question, “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” But not only that, the disciples would face temptations of many kinds themselves. They needed to be alert and in prayer not only for Jesus but for the difficult times ahead that they would face themselves. But they seemed to be oblivious about the dangers and temptations that faced them ahead. You see not only were they struggling with a physical sleepiness, but I think they were also in a spiritual slumber. This morning we will look at how we fall into a spiritual slumber. You see one way that we fall into a spiritual slumber is when we fall into a false sense of security. Like we said, Peter, James and John just didn’t seem to realize that they had some serious challenges and temptations that would be coming their way in the next few hours and days. Earlier Jesus had even warned Peter of the temptation that would be put before him. But if they realized what laid ahead they certainly didn’t act like it. Because all they did was kept nodding off and sleeping. Granted, they may have been physically exhausted, but I believe if they truly realized what was around the corner they would not have been able to sleep. Sometimes, we as Christians have a tendency to nod off in a spiritual sleep. The devil is around the corner and waiting to pounce on us. But we sometimes seem to live in this state of false security, forgetting that we need to be alert because the devil is waiting just around the corner with a temptation just for you. You see the devil, knows us very well. He knows our weaknesses and he knows the areas that are more of a temptation to us. He won’t waste his time trying to tempt us with areas that we have no weaknesses in. He’s going to try to hit us in our weak spot. But when we walk in spiritual alertness to that fact then he will not catch us off guard. That’s why Peter wrote in I Peter 5:8 “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Peter makes no mistake about it, the devil is our enemy and if you aren’t alert with the enemy they will blindside you. Our soldiers in Iraq are having to live each day in a state of alert because of the tactics of the enemy who want to destroy them. Everyday they have to be alert for roadside bombings, mines and every kind of device. To not live in a state of alert would cost them their very life. In the same way, we are in a spiritual war with an enemy that is seeking to destroy. If we get lulled to sleep and forget that this is really a spiritual war then we face a failure. We must not forget what Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against the power of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” There is a battle going on. And listen to what Paul said after he wrote about putting on our armor. , “With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Once again we have a warning to be alert. But most of us in the church don’t live our lives like we are in a spiritual battle. Most of us live life not even thinking about the enemy that is waiting to pounce. When we don’t live in that alertness, when we have that false sense of security, it’s real easy to fall into a state of slumber in our spiritual life. Christ wanted his disciples not to sleep, but to keep watch and be alert.