ON DAYS WHEN it feels like I am just going through the motions of faith, I take some comfort from the example of the Big Three apostles: Peter, James, and John. I’m reminded that even they fell asleep when they were following Jesus—literally.
First there was the transfiguration. As Jesus’s innermost circle, the trio was invited up the mountain to witness a pivotal moment in history, when Christ’s full glory was revealed from heaven. There was some sort of cosmic light show and suddenly Moses and Elijah were there, chatting with Jesus. And what about the three disciples in this once-in-a-creation moment? “Peter and his companions were very sleepy” (Luke 9:33).
Fast-forward to the night of His arrest, when Jesus asked the same three guys to accompany Him as He went aside to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. They were the closest to Jesus as He wrestled in prayer about what lay ahead of Him. And His companions? Jesus returned to where He had left them, and “found them sleeping” (Matt. 26:40).
Before we get too hard on them, let’s remember that Peter, James, and John were not half-hearted adherents. They had walked away from everything to follow Jesus. And yet their own enthusiasm and own determination were not enough to carry them through.
I know how they must have felt. How about you? Ever get those days, weeks, or even seasons when you know God’s inviting you into something, but somehow you just don’t seem to have what you need? The good news is that you don’t have to. Jesus didn’t just tell His disciples where to go (into all the world: Matt. 28:19); He also gave them the wherewithal. In fact, after giving them the Great Commission ahead of His ascension, He told them not to try to fulfill it in their own strength.
Having told them they would go from Jerusalem into all the world, He then directed them to “stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). That moment came when the Holy Spirit fell on the disciples as they gathered in the Upper Room, with Peter preaching a sermon that added 3,000 to the embryonic church that day.
It was almost like the fruit of a seed planted on the Mount of Transfiguration; when the three sleepyheads “became fully awake they saw his glory” (Luke 9:32). That’s my personal prayer and for any others who may be feeling a little dozy right now, as we celebrate Pentecost this Sunday—that the Holy Spirit may bring us fully awake again, so we might better partner with God in His purposes.
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