Back and forth

Luke 22:39-46

Being a follower of Jesus is a mixed bag of faithfulness and betrayal. At some point, we all land somewhere between the two. Hopefully, we’re learning to steer more away from the betrayal side. In Luke 22, Jesus showed his first followers how to do this.

Before you can appreciate what he tells them, notice their walk with Jesus so far. We know there was one disciple who would go down in history as the ultimate betrayer. After observing Passover, Judas led a mob straight to Jesus so they could have him arrested. But that’s too easy an example of betrayal.

The rest of the disciples wondered who the Judas would be. They then argued about something else. Once they out the betrayer, who would be left as the “greatest”? Which of them would have the place of honor? Who would have the bragging rights and carry the most authority? You and I must consider we would be like those first disciples. Imagine walking with Jesus and totally missing everything he had been about. Had they paid more attention, they wouldn’t have been arguing.

But Jesus also affirmed the disciples. He said they were “those who have stood by me in my trials” (Luke 22:28). Not only that, Jesus gave them a kingdom.

But then when Jesus was in anguish they fell asleep.

In all this, we see the disciples for who they are. Sometimes, they are those who follow well. They can live into the kingdom reality. Other times, they’re too tired to care and argue about stupid things.

We also know from this chapter that Jesus knows this about his followers. He understands their back and forth discipleship (See Luke 12:31-34). This is comforting. He knows both how they will fail and how they will not. So, how does he teach them to do more faithful following than betraying? Before he prayed for himself he told them to, “Pray that you may not come into the time of trial” (Luke 22:40). Several translations take trial to mean temptation.

And this wasn’t a one-time prayer. When he found them sleeping instead of praying, he repeated the same thing. Also, remember when the disciples were faithful enough to ask Jesus how to pray? The last thing he taught them to pray was that God would not lead them to temptation (Luke 11:2-4).

So, if you and I are going to learn to follow more than not, like Jesus we must make it our custom (Luke 22:39) to pray. Pray against temptation. Pray like Jesus, kneeling down before God. And pray more earnestly.

The Lord knows we can do great things. But we won’t do them without prayer.

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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