Originally published Thursday, 12 March 2015.
It probably seemed a hairs breadth time between the calling and the cross for Peter, James, and John.
One day Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John were finishing an all-night fishing trip with no favor, when Jesus tells them, Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch. (Luke 5:4, ESV) That was the fishing trip that would change their lives. No longer would they be fishing for fish; they would become fishers of men.
It's funny how we never know what hello will change our lives. What new acquaintance will be a God-appointed friendship waiting on which to embark. Luke 5, and the other gospel accounts, is epic in our view because we know the outcome. But, did the disciples feel in their souls the gravity of that day's events as they unfolded? It's impossible to know.
Spring forward three years, and we once again encounter Jesus and three of his first-called disciples sharing a world-changing moment together. However, this time, the setting is a garden, not the sea, the food is bread and wine, not fish, and the task is to watch and pray, not to cast their nets to the waves.
Sometimes watching and praying can be much more challenging than working and casting. The sleepy disciples bear witness to this. There is a weight in the waiting.
Jesus had finished his final Passover meal with his disciples. He foretold of His betrayal, his death, and his resurrection (See Matthew 26) and commenced to sing a hymn and depart to Gethsemane. In these final parting moments with his friends and disciples, Jesus behaved in certain ways that we can pattern as we draw to transition points in our own lives:
- Jesus drew close to those closest to Him. Jesus took all the disciples to Gethsemane, minus Judas who was too busy betraying Him; however, He drew even closer to his three friends: Peter, James and John. Jesus took them further into the garden and shared more of Himself with them.
- Jesus shared the burdens of His soul with trusted friends. Jesus' future was not veiled to any of the disciples, but the agony with which He faced his destiny was shared with a chosen few. He confides in Peter, James, and John:
My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here and watch with me. (Matthew 26:38)
- Jesus drew closest to the Father. While Christ invited His friends and disciples to share in His burden through prayer, He petitioned His Father alone further still into the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus asked for the cup of God's wrath to pass, yet ultimately he petitioned for the Father's will to be done. We too can portray only so much truth to our closest friends and family--God is the only one who knows in fullness our joys and our sorrows.
- Jesus used his fleeting time to continue to instruct His disciples concerning:
Their duty. Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Matthew 26:41)
God's power. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? (Matthew 26:53)
God's will. ...all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. (Matthew 26:56)
It is comforting to me that even in partings, Jesus provides the way in which we can do so with the greatest impact.