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Beautiful Words Blog | Why We Watch by Pastor John Moropoulos | Gateway Christian Fellowship

And He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you

asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?” Mark 14:37

It is without question one of the darkest moments of the New Testament. There is so little light present and the dark grips us. Jesus has led His followers from the Upper Room, from the celebration of the Passover, through the darkness to the Garden of Gethsemane. The journey likely was short, less than an hour even in the dark.

They knew the path and they knew the Garden well. Matthew records a brief conversation that occurred along the way, Jesus warning them that the Shepherd would be struck and the sheep would be scattered. That the disciples clearly understood is seen in Peter’s response, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.” Jesus responds, “You will deny Me three times.”

As we read the accounts of each Gospel we can feel the darkness growing, as if it were darker, thicker, heavier. This darkness is more than the simple absence of light, it is something real. Evil is asserting itself, sensing an opportunity to take the upper hand.

Arriving in the Garden Jesus instructs the group to “sit here until I have prayed.” He doesn’t ask them to do anything, just wait. Jesus then takes Peter, James, and John a bit farther into the Garden. Here He says, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.”

We know how it goes from here: Jesus' heart breaking prayer, His willful surrender both to the will of His Father and to the determined plan of wicked men, the guards grasping, the disciples fleeing, and the multiple trials, rejection, scourging, and crucifixion. We know about the glorious victory on the Third Day.

What a joyous thing we celebrate on Easter morning. The sting of guilt is taken away. Our sins “are removed as far as the east is from the west.”

But Jesus’ words are still there, “remain here and keep watch.” I visited the Garden of Gethsemane a few years ago. It is truly a lovely place. It warms the heart simply knowing that this is where My Savior made the final decision, He would die for me. But still, there is His voice saying, “Remain here and keep watch.” It’s the simplest request, just keep an eye on things for a short while until He is finished praying. Simple and easy. Yet they failed. We fail.

Why did Jesus ask them to “keep watch?” Because danger was near? It was but there was nothing they could do about it. Could keeping watch impact or even change what was going to happen? Hardly. I am at a loss for a reason.

Unless there is an inherent value in simply keeping watch, in “being alert” when we are surrounded by darkness, the darkness of evil. Jesus didn’t even say what to keep watch for, just “keep watch.” I have to believe that whatever value Jesus saw in His disciples keeping watch is still there for us today.

There are so many distractions, so much noise, so many other things to worry about (Martha certainly did not have the market cornered on that one). Taking time to simply watch, to make the choice to bring our minds to bear on the one thing that really matters, to see more clearly.

Ever notice that people squint when trying to see at night, in the dark. It’s counterintuitive really. Squinting reduces the amount of light coming into the eye. In the dark I want more light. But while squinting reduces the amount of light entering the eye, it also sharpens the focus of the eye, it causes us to see more accurately.

Now I’ve already gotten myself into trouble, speaking of things well beyond my knowledge (the vision part) but this I know. We live in dark and evil times. Our Lord has instructed us to walk carefully, to pay attention to the path we follow, to keep watch.

So though it may not accomplish some tangible goal, meet some kind of deadline, or produce a useful product, I will try to “watch” and “keep watching” and to do so “until He comes.” I want to pay attention to what He has said to me, and continues to say to me, with my intent to do “not my will,” but His. I will endeavor to pray with the Psalmist,

Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,

For I delight in it.

Incline my heart to Your testimonies

And not to dishonest gain.

Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity,

And revive me in Your ways.

Psalm 119.35-37, NASB95

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