37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
If Jesus ever trusted anyone, it was his inner core of disciples, Peter, James and John. If there was ever a time Jesus needed his closest friends, it was now in the Garden of Gethsemane. If there was ever a time, Peter was in a position to be Jesus' his most reliable disciple, it was on this night of his betrayal. But what happened? After Jesus had told them to watch and pray, he came back and found them sleeping. He came back twice more and found them sleeping. Talk about a let down.
Then Jesus makes a sweeping statement. He says, "Watch and pray that you don't fall into temptation. The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." So what can we learn from this valuable teaching to the disciples on the night before he awaits the cross.
1. Jesus teaches about the inevitability of temptation. It is not if it will come, but when!
2. The best offense is a good defense. Since we know it is coming, we need to watch and pray. Be aware, keep watch, and then pray. Most of the time we walk into temptation, get swept up into it, and then say, "What happened"?
3. Through our own flesh, or own natural strength, we cannot fight temptation. But our best weapon is the Holy Spirit. The key to fighting temptation is a good defense, and using our best weapon, the power of the Holy Spirit. Through relying on the Holy Spirit, we can actually be willing to overcome temptation. God can change our desires.
Like Peter, we are going to have times where we will be tested. We should expect it. We can be aware of it as we watch and pray. And we can be willing to overcome it, as we rely on the gift of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
Where are you likely to be tempted? Are you aware of this area? Are you watching and praying about this susceptibility? Are you stepping out in the power of the Holy Spirit so that you can stand up to the temptation? The bottom line is as believers, we don't have to give in to temptation. Jesus gives us a way to fight and defeat temptation. This is the great lie the devil wants us to believe that we don't have the power to overcome temptation. But as we do our faith is strengthened, and it is easier to overcome the next time.