Then Jesus went with His disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and He said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray ”He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with Him, and He began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, He fell with His face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” Then He returned to His disciples and found them sleeping, “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” He asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may Your Will be done.” When He came back, He again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So He left them and went away once more and prayed a third time, saying the same thing. Then He returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” Mt. 26:36-46 NIV
As Ferguson, Missouri, and the turmoil that they face lay heavy on my mind and heart, this passage of scripture came to mind. In the context of the setting, Jerusalem is under the oppression of Rome’s unjust laws, which violates their human rights, civil rights, women’s rights, silences their voices, and renders them invisible. Jesus is about to endure a suffering in which no other flesh can ever imagine. He is about to be betrayed, shuffled through an unjust court system, lied on, spit on, beat, mutilated, and endure a death sentence; all for the sake of bearing man’s sin. Although, He knew His plight, understood it, and willingly accepted it; He took the time to teach His disciples a lesson.
On the surface of the scripture, in literal terms, He taught His disciples when you feel an overwhelming sorrow and your spirit is troubled, you must take time out to pray. Talk to the Father about it, in order to gain strength to endure, and to humble oneself to allow His Will to be done.
However, the symbolic lesson is what I’ve been led to focus on. Jesus gave His disciples an assignment, to watch and pray. That’s it, everything else He was willing to accept and carry out on His own. Just watch and pray. This passage of scripture relates me to Ferguson. Our brothers and sisters are in turmoil. Their rights are being violated. They’re being threatened with the oppressor’s force of militarism. They’ve been warned that their voices must remain silent when the results of the Grand Jury are announced. If your spirit has been overwhelmed with sorrow and is troubled, I bid you to watch and pray for our brothers and sisters. This is still on the surface of the scripture.
Yet, as we go a little deeper into the scripture, symbolically, we must understand that we are in a movement for justice (just as Jesus was). We have no time to sleep or struggle with heavy eyelids. We have no time to turn a blind eye to the suffering of our brothers and sisters of Ferguson, and fall into the sleep of continuing on with our busy, selfish lives. We have no time to fall into the temptation of man’s blindness, judgment, and imperialistic behavior. We have no time for weak flesh. Our assignment is to stand and watch, to stand in the gap for our brothers and sisters, and to pray that the Father’s Will be done. I don’t want the Father to find me asleep when there is work to be done.
Mostly, we must understand, the injustice that Ferguson is facing is an issue for all Americans. When rights are violated for one, they are violated for all. Yet, how many of us are willing to watch and pray? How many of us will stand and utilize our voices in the name of justice for all?
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” –Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Peace and Many Blessings,