It is often said that people who have not yet accepted Christ are asleep at the wheel. “So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober” (1 Thes 5:6). The imagery of staying awake and keeping watch is made most obvious at the Garden of Gethsemane.
At the end of His ministry, Jesus knew His time had come. He took the disciples to the garden where He would pray to the Father “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42). Prior to this, He asked His disciples to stay there and pray (specifically that they would not fall to temptation) while He went a little further to pray alone. “And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” (Luke 22:45-46).
These men had been walking with Christ for some time now, some of them as much as three years. They were “awake” in the Lord (but wouldn’t be awake in the Spirit until after the resurrection and the arrival of the Holy Spirit). But this passage has a couple amazing points relative to the first text.
Sleeping for sorrow
Different versions change this text slightly but in any case, the point is that they were so grieved that they fell asleep. Prior to this Jesus warned them not to enter into temptation and then again, He warned them after waking them. They had no way of knowing or understanding that Christ was about to die (even though He had told them), yet they were so grieved they ‘fell asleep’. Their grief made them weak enough to enter into temptation and they fell asleep. But Christ awoke them and warned them again.
Why are you sleeping
It’s not doubt that the disciples were physically tired, but that is not mentioned in the text. Christ of course knew WHY they were sleeping and it wasn’t from exhaustion, it was from sorrow. Although Christ found them asleep, He woke them again, warned them again.
When Paul reminds the Thessalonians about Christ returning like a thief in the night, he is reminding them not to fall asleep, not to enter into temptation. We have been awakened and we are to remain so until Christ comes. We are to keep watch, we are to attempt to warn those who are sleeping, to attempt to wake them sometime between now and when He comes.
Who is on your heart that is still asleep? Who is Christ prompting you to try to wake?