Spirit Willing

Question: 

What does this mean? "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." -- Matthew 26:41

Answer: 

I can only answer this in practical terms from what the Greek actually says. Translating literally from the Greek, it means something like:

Wake up! And make vows to the Divine. Because you might not want to get into a problem. On one hand the spirit: ready and willing. On the other hand, the meat: weak and sickly.

The Greek word translated as “watch” (γρηγορεῖτεgregoreo) primarily means “to wake up”. Jesus saw that most of us spend a lot of our time only half-aware of our situations.

We need to “pray” (προσεύχεσθεproseuchomai), which means to make a vow to the divine. Most of us cannot keep promises that we make to ourselves. It is much easier to keep promises if we make them to others. And it is even easier if we make them to a higher power because the consequences of our failure become much more serious. In exchange for the promise, it feels like we get strength in return.

Why do we make promises to God? To keep ourselves out of trouble. The Greek translated as “temptation” (πειρασμόνpeirasmos) means a “trial” or “worry”. In English, we would use the term “problem” to describe it. It is something we want to avoid. The Greek negative used indicates something we don’t want.

It would take too much time to discuss what Jesus means by the “spirit” (πνεῦμαpneuma). Christ’s view of the components of a human being is complex. I will refer you to this article.

However, you should know that the word used by Jesus here for “flesh” (σὰρξ , sarx) is not the word usually used to refer to the physical aspect of being human. Its meaning is closer to “meat”. It is a disparaging term to use to refer to our bodies,

The word for “weak” (ἀσθενήςasthenes,) means something more like “feeble” and “sick”.

For more, I refer you to this article that explains all the Greek in more detail.