A segment of the BBC series Human Planet depicts two fishermen harvesting rare goose barnacles from dangerous rocks along Spain’s northern coast. The men are attached to one another by ropes and take turns descending to the base of the rocks between onslaughts of violent waves. As one man gathers barnacles, he depends on the other to shout a warning when a particularly large breaker approaches and to pull him to safety if necessary.
Our calling as Christians often brings us into potentially dangerous situations. We struggle not against flesh and blood—or waves and rocks—but against spiritual forces of evil that seek to destroy our souls (see Eph. 6:12). To survive unhurt, we too must be constantly vigilant, both for ourselves and for others.
Jesus knew the vulnerabilities of His disciples. Earlier He had taught them to pray, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matt. 6:13). Now, on the Mount of Olives hours before His death on the cross, He reminded them that they would face a renewed onslaught of spiritual danger for which they must be prayerfully alert.
They failed at watchfulness, however. The evening advanced, and fatigue won. Thankfully, they were not alone. While their prayerful vigilance faltered, Christ’s never does. He is so alert and earnest in His prayers that His anguished sweat was “like drops of blood” as it fell (v. 44). While Peter failed to consider his danger, Jesus was praying for his spiritual safety (vv. 31–32). While the disciples snored, their intercessor was pleading for them.
Temptation presses us, but today’s passage strengthens us. We have been given warning of danger and help to escape it. We have someone who joins us in prayer.