Matthew 26:41 “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”
Since 1907 this has been the motto of the scout movement. All Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts make it their duty to be prepared in mind and body to know the right thing to do, to be willing to act on it, and to be physically fit to carry out the action when necessary.
None of our family, aside from my brief stint with the Brownies in elementary school, has been a scout member. Even so, this motto is one that we should all consider making part of our life strategy.
Jesus knew that His time on earth was short. He understood what the next few hours would hold for Him – the betrayal, the ridicule, the pain, the torture, and the weight of the world’s sin. Death on a rugged cross was why He had come to earth and His final hour was drawing near.
During the last Passover supper, Jesus prepared His disciples with much information regarding what was ahead. He acted out a picture of the purpose of His death by washing their feet. He had come not to be served, but to serve and give His life a ransom for many.
He comforted them with the promise of the Holy Spirit Who would give them power and lead them into all truth.
He encouraged them by explaining how they could bear much spiritual fruit by remaining in the vine. By abiding in Christ and letting His words abide in them they could ask whatever they needed and it would be done.
He warned them of rejection and tribulation but reminded them that He had overcome the world.
Finally, He prayed that God would not take them out of the world but keep them from the evil one.
All of this Jesus did so that His disciples would BE PREPARED for what lay ahead.
Yet, even this was not enough. There was something they needed to do.
While in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus went away by Himself to pray. His soul was deeply grieved over all that was about to occur. He asked His disciples to keep watch with Him, but they could not keep their eyelids open. The warmth of the evening and the activity of the day weakened their stamina and soon there were snores echoing throughout the otherwise quiet sanctuary.
Jesus, heavy with grief, returned, awakened them from their slumber, and urgently imparted some important advice. He knew what was coming and how crucial their preparation of mind and body would be when temptation crept up on them. At the moment of decision His previous teaching and preparation would be forgotten if they had not prepared their minds and bodies through prayer. He said,
“Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation.”
The men groggily listened to His warning, but then rolled over and continued snoring. The hour of Jesus’s betrayal and suffering was at hand but these followers were not ready for what lay ahead. Though their spirit might have been willing had they understood, their exhausted flesh was weak.
Later we read that all of them deserted their Master in His greatest hour of need. Peter, who boasted of loyalty, went as far as to vehemently deny that he even knew Jesus. How sad they all were when they realized that their lack of preparation caused them to do the wrong thing.
What a lesson this is for us! The Scout Motto, while a good life strategy, is also necessary spiritually to protect us from all temptation. Unlike Jesus, we do not know what a day holds. We must keep watching and praying so that we can withstand whatever comes across our path.
I am glad Jesus was prepared to suffer and die for my sins and yours.
Obey the instructions He gave His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane. Make it your motto and duty to always BE PREPARED in mind and body to know the right thing to do, to be willing to act on it, and to be physically fit to carry out the action when necessary.
Jesus shared the secret to success – stay alert, keep watching, keep praying.