20. What is the meaning of these words: “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak”?




To understand the meaning of these words spoken by Jesus to His disciples, we need to see when they were spoken. In the Gospel according to Matthew we read: “Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.: And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:36-41). As you can see, therefore, Jesus commanded His disciples to watch with Him and went to pray, but after an hour He returned and found them sleeping. Therefore, on that night the disciples of Jesus were not able to watch with Jesus one hour. It was then that Jesus told them to watch and pray so that they might not fall into temptation and thus into sin, which is something that can happen to us very easily because our flesh is weak, that is, because our human nature is weak and exhibits a tendency toward sin unlike our spirit which has another attitude because it is ready (or willing) to do what God commands to do. Therefore, the way we can help in the weakness of our flesh (and thus avoid falling into temptation) is by watching and praying.