He (Jesus) came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him. He came a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.” Mark 14:37-42 (NRSV)
Jesus had to have had some level of frustration with Peter and the rest of the disciples. All He wanted was for these guys to stay awake and pray with Him as He anguished in the Garden of Gethsemane. Instead all of the disciples had found some way to abandon Jesus- if not by nodding off then it was by trotting off and selling Him to the authorities for today’s equivalent of enough money to buy a few gallons of gasoline.
Sometimes we just plain know our loved ones are going to let us down. Whether it is something simple as forgetting to set out meat to defrost for the evening meal, or something more serious such as taking the car through the garage door, our friends and loved ones are not perfect. Our spouses don’t anticipate our needs, they spend money on things we might think are wasteful, or sometimes they are emotionally cold. Our kids fail to follow instructions, tend to sass back, fail to do their chores, and break things. Our friends don’t always show up when we need them.
Jesus had to be heartbroken being abandoned and betrayed by His friends. Betrayal, as much as it stings, is part of the human experience. All of us have both been betrayed by other people and we have all betrayed other people in various ways. Hopefully none of us succumbs to the temptation to sell one of our friends to the executioner for less than what it takes to fill up a Toyota Camry, but before we judge Judas too harshly, we should remember, we share the same root of sin with Judas. We are sinners and we live with sinners. Our spirits are indeed willing, but our flesh screws up.
The good news is that unlike our loved ones and those around us, Jesus is faithful. He does not betray us even when we are imperfect and in our sin and error, we betray others, and we betray Him.
We are like those friends of Jesus so much of the time. We try and we fail. We can’t stay awake to pray with Jesus or stand by Him in His anguish. It is too much for us to bear. Even so, Jesus is faithful to us. He forgives us. He walks with us through the valleys of shadow. He pulls us out of our weakness and comforts us when we have been betrayed.