This site uses cookies to provide you with more responsive and personalized service and to collect certain information about your use of the site.  You can change your cookie settings through your browser.  If you continue without changing your settings, you agree to our use of cookies.  See our Privacy Policy for more information.

The Disciples' Foolish Rest


Many churches observe an Easter vigil. This service is usually held at night after sunset on Holy Saturday and before sunrise on Easter Sunday. In some, the mood is somber as believers reflect on Christ’s death and burial. In others, the mood is celebratory as they serve communion and practice baptism.

In today’s text the disciples observed a different kind of vigil. On the night of His betrayal, Jesus asked the disciples to “keep watch” with Him as He prayed in Gethsemane (v. 38). The mood just prior to this was unsettling, as Jesus celebrated His last Passover with them. The disciples bickered amongst themselves about which of them was the greatest (see Luke 22:24). Peter argued with Jesus when He washed his feet (John 13:8). They were deeply disturbed when Jesus told them that one of them would betray Him (Matt. 26:22). It must also have unnerved them when Jesus changed the traditional Passover liturgy and instituted the Lord’s Supper (Matt. 26:26–29).

Peter had boldly declared that he would die for Christ. But it turned out that he could not even stay awake for an hour (v. 40). Jesus had already warned Peter that he would deny Him three times (Matt. 26:34). Here was a chance for Peter to seek God’s protection from the temptation that lay before him. It was also a chance to serve the Savior he loved. Jesus had asked much of the disciples during the course of His ministry, but this was the first time He had asked for something for Himself. This was an unparalleled opportunity to comfort the One who had been their comforter. But Peter and the rest of the disciples slept on and Jesus wrestled alone. Their physical sleep reflected their spiritual stupor.

Apply the Word

There is a time to sleep and a time to remain alert. We may need a divine wake-up call from God that will help us rearrange our priorities. If you are like the disciples, you may not even be aware that you need help. Ask God to open your eyes to those areas where you are “asleep.” Pray for wisdom and the courage to change.

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

Browse Devotions by Date