‘Sleep On, And Take Your Rest’
Every single one of us has allotted times for different seasons or assignments in our lives. In each of these seasons, the allotted time comes, and then it goes — and when that time is over, there is usually no way to get it back.
I’m talking about a dangerous attitude we often nurture in our lives that says, “Oh, I’ll do that tomorrow.”
Now, I am a woman of faith, and I do believe that God redeems the time. But I’m talking about a dangerous attitude we often nurture in our lives that says, “Oh, I’ll do that tomorrow. I don’t need to be in a hurry; my situation isn’t so bad.” And we keep on saying that as the days and months and years go by. Then all of a sudden, we look back and realize that the clock has run out for that particular season or assignment that God had given to us. The allotted time we had is gone. We wasted that time because we didn’t take it seriously. And we ask in despair, “Where did the time go?”
The Lord may speak to our hearts and say:
“I want you to do something about your health.”
“I want you to spend more time in prayer and the Word every day.”
“I want you to witness to your neighbor.”
“I want you to further your education.”
“I want you to start exercising regularly.
” And too often we respond with these kinds of answers:
“Lord, I don’t want to do that.”
“Lord, I just don’t have time!”
“Lord, you know how I love Coke!”
“Lord, I have so many luncheons and banquets to attend. How in the world could I ever fast?”
We give excuse after excuse after excuse, and the hours tick by; the days tick by; the weeks tick by; the months tick by; the years tick by. Finally, the time comes when we are no longer able to do the thing that God asked us to do.
The Disciples’ Missed Opportunity
In Matthew 26:36-46, we see that the three disciples who were closest to Jesus missed their allotted time to help Him in His hour of greatest need:
Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be be sorrowful and very heavy.
Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.
And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.
And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, SLEEP ON NOW, AND TAKE YOUR REST: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.
One day I was reading this passage of Scripture, and I was captivated by Jesus’ words in verse 45: “…Sleep on now, and take your rest….” It hit my heart that, at that moment, the allotted time given to the three disciples to pray for Jesus and to help Him in His time of need was gone. At that point, the only thing Jesus could say to them was, “Sleep on now.”
The disciples had been offered such a unique opportunity. I don’t know of another place in the Scriptures where Jesus asked for personal help and attention from His disciples. Never before in history and never again would Jesus make this particular request. The burden He felt was so heavy that He couldn’t even go very far from the other three before He fell to the ground in agony. Jesus was deep in the throes of the struggle for which He was born — to bear the sins, the sicknesses, and the poverty of all humanity — and He was saying yes to the Father’s will.
Jesus was having to say yes to being separated from God His Father; yes to bearing God’s wrath for the punishment of our sins; yes to enduring not only death on the Cross, but hell itself. It was time for the sinless Son of God to become the spotless Lamb that was slain to bear the sins of the world. And for this one crucial hour — when Jesus would suffer such mental and emotional anguish that He would sweat drops of blood — He was asking His closest friends, “Would you please pray with Me?”
Three times Jesus asked Peter, James, and John to watch and pray with Him in His hour of need. Yet each time Jesus came back to them, He found them sleeping. Then His time of prayer was over, and the disciples’ opportunity to stand with Him in prayer was gone. They would never have that opportunity again. Jesus was never going to suffer like that again. He would never again be in the Garden of Gethsemane, pouring out His heart and His life before the world.
These three disciples had blown their opportunity. They had missed their allotted time.
These three disciples had blown their opportunity. They had missed their allotted time. Jesus didn’t have His closest friends’ prayers to help Him during His time of intense need because they fell asleep. So when He returned to them and saw that they were sleeping, Jesus sadly said to the three men,“Go ahead and sleep; take your rest. Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of the sinners.”
I had read this passage many times through the years, but when I read it this particular day, the importance of time hit me in the face. I realized in a way I never had before that there is an allotted time for us to do the different things God asks us to do. And when that time is gone, the opportunity to fulfill a particular assignment is lost and, more often than not, can never be regained again.
There is an allotted time for us to do the different things God asks us to do.