April 14 Evening Verse of The Day

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26:41 Their temptation was to succumb to physical sleep and so fail in their responsibility to support Jesus. It may point also to the temptation to deny Jesus when he is led away to the cross (cf. vv. 31–35).[1]

26:41 the flesh is weak. The tenderness of this plea is touching. Christ Himself was well acquainted with the feeling of human infirmities (Heb 4:15)—yet without sin. At that very moment He was locked in a struggle against human passions which, while not sinful in themselves, must be subjugated to the divine will if sin was to be avoided. See note on v. 39.[2]

26:41 The disciples needed to stay awake and pray because they were about to be tested themselves. Here the word flesh emphasizes human weakness. The contrast between the weakness of the disciples and the strength of the Lord is startling. Because the flesh is weak, every child of God needs supernatural empowerment (Rom. 8:3, 4).[3]

26:41 “keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation” These are both PRESENT IMPERATIVES. There must be constant vigil! Temptation is an ongoing reality (cf. Matt. 4:11; Luke 4:13).

There have been several theories as to what “temptation” referred in this context: (1) to the disciples sleeping instead of praying, (2) to the disciples desertion of Jesus in v. 56; (3) to Peter’s denial in vv. 69–75; or (4) to governmental or religious trials (cf. Matt. 5:10–12; John 9:22; 16:2).

The term “temptation” (peirasmos) had the connotation of “to tempt or try with the goal of destruction” (cf. Matt. 6:13; Luke 11:4; James 1:13). It is often contrasted with another Greek term for test (dokimazo) which had the connotation of “to try or tempt with a view toward strengthening.” However, these connotations are not always present in every context. Theologically it can be said that God does not test or tempt His children to destroy them but He does provide opportunities for spiritual growth through trials (cf. Gen. 22:1; Ex. 16:4; 20:20; Duet. 8:2, 16; Matt. 4; Luke 4; Heb. 5:8). However, He always provides a way through (cf. 1 Cor. 10:13).

 “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” This was the self-confession of Jesus who knows fully our humanity and its weaknesses (cf. Heb. 4:15). And, knowing us, He loved us and died for us (cf. Rom. 5:8) and now intercedes for us (cf. Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25; 9:24; 1 John 2:1). Hallelujah![4]

41. Watch and pray. As the disciples were unmoved by their Master’s danger, their attention is directed to themselves, that a conviction of their own danger may arouse them. Christ therefore threatens that, if they do not watch and pray, they may be soon overwhelmed by temptation. As if he had said, “Though you take no concern about me, do not fail, at least, to think of yourselves; for your own interests are involved in it, and if you do not take care, temptation will immediately swallow you up.” For to enter into temptation means to yield to it. And let us observe, that the manner of resistance which is here enjoined is, not to draw courage from reliance on our own strength and perseverance, but, on the contrary, from a conviction of our weakness, to ask arms and strength from the Lord. Our watching, therefore, will be of no avail without prayer.

The spirit indeed is willing. That he may not terrify and discourage his disciples, he gently reproves their slothfulness, and adds consolation and good ground of hope. And, first, he reminds them, that though they are earnestly desirous to do what is right, still they must contend with the weakness of the flesh, and, therefore, that prayer is never unnecessary. We see, then, that he gives them the praise of willingness, in order that their weakness may not throw them into despair, and yet urges them to prayer, because they are not sufficiently endued with the power of the Spirit. Wherefore, this admonition relates properly to believers, who, being regenerated by the Spirit of God, are desirous to do what is right, but still labour under the weakness of the flesh; for though the grace of the Spirit is vigorous in them, they are weak according to the flesh. And though the disciples alone have their weakness here pointed out to them, yet, since what Christ says of them applies equally to all, we ought to draw from it a general rule, that it is our duty to keep diligent watch by praying; for we do not yet possess the power of the Spirit in such a measure as not to fall frequently through the weakness of the flesh, unless the Lord grant his assistance to raise up and uphold us. But there is no reason why we should tremble with excessive anxiety; for an undoubted remedy is held out to us, which we will neither have far to seek nor to seek in vain; for Christ promises that all who, being earnest in prayer, shall perseveringly oppose the slothfulness of the flesh, will be victorious.[5]

41 If the ἵνα (hina, “that”) clause is dependent only on the verb “pray,” then it is probably not final (as in 5:29) and gives the content of the prayer. If it depends on “watch and pray” together, it may have telic force.[6]

[1] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1882). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Mt 26:41). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1195). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[4] Utley, R. J. (2000). The First Christian Primer: Matthew (Vol. Volume 9, pp. 218–219). Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International.

[5] Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Vol. 3, pp. 235–236). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[6] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, p. 611). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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