Jesus takes with him Peter, James and John up to the Garden of Gethsemane on the night He was betrayed.
During the scene Jesus goes off to pray and prostrates himself before the Father. These same 3 Apostles also accompanied Jesus to Mount Tabor and witnessed the Glory of the Lord and those of Moses and Elijah as well. And it is these 3 that are with him right now in the Garden.
When Jesus comes back to His Apostles, he finds them asleep as recorded by Matthew 26:36-46:
36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsem′ane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go yonder and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zeb′edee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch[f] with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” 40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch[g] with me one hour? 41 Watch[h] and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, thy will be done.” 43 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
A thousand different things can be said here and I guess that is why it is inspired scripture. This article will focus on something Jesus says to St. Peter.
26:40 – And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
This scene occurs after the Passover meal, but not before it was finished. Who wouldn’t be tired after a Passover meal like the one the Apostles just had with Jesus. What we know from Matthews account of the Last Supper each of the disciples are aware that one of there number is going to betray Him. And a little later we are told that Peter will deny Jesus 3 times before the cock crows.
Some theologians have seen a connection between this scene and the scene in the Garden of Eden. The first Adam fell into Temptation and the Second Adam would not fall. When Jesus comes back to the sleeping Apostles, he singles out St. Peter, by name. We know that it is St. Peter who will deny Christ 3 times this very night. Did Peter just wave off the words of Jesus and thought he had the resolve to withstand it?
When Jesus finds them sleeping he says to them: “could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation….”
Watch and pray you do not enter into temptation? What temptation could Jesus be talking about? I think the answer is in the book of Genesis. It never occurred to me until a Pastor pointed out to me that Adam was standing behind Eve when she was engaging the serpent. Adam neither stopped her or stood between her and the serpent. He surely had opportunity to do so. He knew the word of God that they were not eat of the fruit of that tree.
We all know the story of Adam and Eve. Adam did not want to lose his life for his bride or his life for the world. He had become worldly and he didn’t want to lose what he had in the Garden of Eden. He failed to give his life for his bride and instead lost his communion with God and when you do that you lose your spiritual life.
In the Garden of Gethsemene, St. Peter is told to pray that he not enter into temptation. I asked above, what temptation? The temptation to not fall away and deny Jesus! The temptation to hold the world above God! The temptation to not abandon the bride!
We know that it was St. Peter who pulled out his sword to strike a deadly blow to one of Jesus’ captors. He missed. Here St. Peter was so willing to give up the life of another then to give up his own life to save Jesus. “Whoever looses his life for my sake will gain it.”
How shocking it was to St. Peter when he heard the cock crow? What must have transpired between them when their eyes meet? The battered and beaten Jesus, the Son of God, who by His shear will, endures the pain and suffering and turns to look into Peters eyes. The very words of Jesus must have hit him like a ton of bricks: “If you deny me before men, I will deny you before the Father.” He went away and wept bitterly. It all came tumbling down upon this weak and simple man.
Each of the Apostles including what was left of the humanity of Judas had to hear themselves asking Jesus “Is it I, Master? To a certain degree, each of them had the human capacity to betray Jesus. And we should realize that we can do so also.
So, what was this temptation that St. Peter was to pray not to succumb too? The temptation was to hold on to what we have in this world, our lives. It was the temptation to remain in the world and not let go just yet. Peter could not let go of the world then and there. And it isn”t until many years later that he does let go of the world just as Jesus had.
Reading in the New Testament, we know that as believers in Jesus Christ we are not of the world even though we continue to live in it. We have a Cross to bear and a Savior to follow to wherever he leads us. And He doesn’t lead us to the world but to heaven.