I read Matthew 26:40 during my morning study: And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?
It’s easy to do while reading but I refrained from judging Peter and the others. Instead I thought of what I would have done in that instance. There have been times when I wanted or needed to stay awake and physically couldn’t. The phrase “could ye not watch with me one hour” stayed with me as I dressed for the day and if I would have been able to watch one hour with the Savior that night.
It was a Saturday in January and I had decided if the weather permitted me I was going to make my monthly trip to the temple that day. Our weather in January had been very winter-like most of the month so far causing our roads out of town to be closed. But if I could just make it the 100 miles on that Saturday I could relax the rest of the month.
The roads were clear but fog obscured the view almost the whole way there. There was a point or two when the fog had become so thick I considered turning back. I persevered and made it with a half-an-hour to spare.
Inside the temple I waited in the chapel. I read scriptures and pondered until it was time to begin.
About half-way through my visit, my mind began to wander. I thought of lunch. Not just lunch but what I would have for lunch and how I would obtain it. When I came back to my senses I realized I hadn’t been paying attention to what I should have been paying attention to. What I had traveled 100 miles through fog to do. Again the question, “What, could ye not watch with me one hour?” came to my mind. I realized I didn’t need to be there on that night so long ago to answer the question.
I think of what the Savior told Peter before He suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane. Luke 22: 31-32 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:
“But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”
The Lord is already aware of our physical limitations and weaknesses. He warned Peter that Peter would deny knowing him three times before morning. Peter didn’t believe Him but, to borrow the scripture way of phrasing the fulfillment of prophecy, it came to pass. Peter indeed denied knowing Jesus three times.
I think this is why verse 31-32 are so important. The Savior knew how Peter would react and how he’d feel when he realized what he had done. The prayer was already in place to help Peter overcome his weakness and his own feeling of failure. Perhaps the prayer helped him collect himself, pick himself up, and continue on with the great work that was about to begin.
Later, when the resurrected Lord appeared to his disciples, he asked Peter if he loved Him. In John 21:17 Peter responds after the third time of repeating it “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.” I believe he was allowed to make restitution for his weakness in succumbing to the fear of man. After this, Peter went on to lead the church and usher in the age of Christianity to the world.
Going back to the original question, “What, could ye not watch with me one hour?” I believe the Savior is fully aware of the answer. He knows my physical limitations when it comes to focusing. But He also knows my intent and effort better than I do. I am certain He has already put into place certain things that will help me with my watch if I’ll allow them to. This is another depth and level of the Atonement that I need to trust in and quit feeling guilty about not achieving. It’s all about improvement after all. So, my answer may be “I probably can’t watch one hour with you today but I can give you my all and see how far that gets us.”