"Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."Matthew 26:41(NASB)
The accelerating events leading up to Christ's sacrifice on the Cross, are witnessed in these final chapters of Matthew's gospel as multiple prophecies of His passion spill onto the pages of holy writ.
Mary of Bethany had anointed Jesus with precious perfume from her alabaster box, in readiness for His fast approaching crucifixion. Judas had left to betray his Master, and Jesus had instituted the Lord Supper, following that final Passover meal with the disciples He loved.
Jesus had graciously washed His disciples' feet, told Peter of the imminent denial of his Master, and had entered into agony of spirit, as He wept and prayed, three times, in the garden of Gethsemane. His confused disciples, however, slept away this pivotal point in the history of mankind - while angels ministered to Jesus, the Lord of heaven and God of the universe - in His travail.
The Lord Jesus would have received much comfort of spirit and inner consolation, had His disciples shown some sympathy in the spiritual battle that Christ had entered. Jesus had been born for this hour and His whole life and ministry was focused on this even. Finally, the climatic point in time and eternity was reached... when the Lamb of God, Who was slain from the foundation of the world, would take upon Himself the sin of the world.
Jesus knew that His life must be lived in total dependence on His heavenly Father's instructions, for although He was fully God, He willingly set aside His heavenly glory to live his earthly life as a full member of humanity - for only a sinless man, who lived in perfect obedience to God would qualify to become the Saviour of fallen humanity and redeem everything that the first Adam lost.
Although Jesus was true deity and the second Person of the Trinity, He was a true man, who was tempted to sin just as we are tempted - yet He did not sin. He resisted temptation, learned obedience by the things He suffered, and lived a perfect life by depending on His Father, listening to the guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit, standing on every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God, and praying without ceasing... in thanksgiving and praise.
Jesus knew that the only way that He could successfully function in His body of flesh - and overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil, was in humble submission to His heavenly Father through the power of the indwelling Spirit. What an amazing example He set to us all.
No surprise that Christ admonished His sleepy and bemused followers to WATCH and PRAY. "keep watching and keep praying," He urged them, "that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Jesus knew that sin had corrupted the nature of man and that the only way to live a victorious life, in a fallen world, was to watch and pray continuously - in utter dependence on the Father through the power of the indwelling Spirit. The desires of the flesh, the seductive lure that penetrates the eye-gate and the ear-gate, and the inner prideful nature of fallen man is incapable of resisting evil, even when man's inner spirit and his God-given conscience screams the reverse.
There is no respite from the attacks of the enemy, for any child of God, and Christ's urgent warning to His disciples to watch, and keep on watching... to pray and keep on praying, is as equally vital in today's evil age, as it was when His disciples succumbed to the flesh, on that momentous occasion.
Keep watching and keep praying, is the guiding principle for every child of God, every moment of the day and throughout our time on earth. "Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation." It is only as we submit to God in humble submission and watchful prayer that we can resist the evil one.
The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak - but those that utterly depend on God, abide in Christ and pray in unity with the Holy Spirit are given the strength to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil - for Christ not only paid the price for our sin but broke the POWER of sin in the lives of all who believe, in this Christian dispensation. May we all stand firm on the gospel of grace and the Word of truth, in full assurance that HIS grace is sufficient, for His power is perfected in our weakness.
Heavenly Father, as I consider the passion of Christ and the enormous pressures and pain He underwent on my account, I can only praise and thank You for Your immeasurable gift and His incalculable grace. I understand that my own, fallen, fleshly resolve is weak, and that a powerful enemy is seeking to shipwreck my faith. But thanks be to God that in Christ, I have all I need to stand firm, as I watch and pray. Help me to rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, and in everything, to give thanks and praise for Your goodness and grace. Help me, Father, to watch and pray in spirit and truth, and to abide in Christ day by day, to Your praise and glory. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.