Jesus in Gethsemane
Matthew 26 36-46–Blog Through the Bible Project
36 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.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
I love these depictions of Jesus as fully human. Longing for friendship. Longing to lean on his friends.
That is why Jesus is such a great friend to us, and knowing him is such a great experience. Because Jesus knows what it is to be really, really sad and to experience great sorrow.
Gethsemane means “oil press.” A garden area among the olive groves on the Mount of Olives.
39 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.”
All through his life, Jesus has been modelling various types of prayer–in the prayer he taught his disciples, in his own prayers at the Last Supper, in his modelling of prayer for healing…
Here he models prayer during an excruciatingly difficult time.
He asks his Father that if possible, the cup of suffering may be removed from him.
But then he says that it’s okay if things happen not as he himself wishes, but as his Father wishes.
Whereas, through God’s mercy, the cup of extreme suffering presents itself to us only rarely, every day of our Christian life requires this “death” : “Not as I will, but as you will.”
Sometimes, God calls us to small tweaks. Sometimes, what he calls us to feels like death.
Perhaps this prayer of the Lord’s should be incorporated into our daily devotions. “Lord, today, not as I will but as you will.”
What would it involve for me? Spending more time with people rather than on work? Getting back on track a bit with my house, which tells the tale of Easter holidays? Not being so insistent on my own way in family life?
ESV Jesus falls on his face in a typical posture of abject humility in prayer and lays his life before his Father in complete honesty and surrender. Jesus faces the most agonizing struggle of his life to date at the moment when he is ready to accomplish the culmination of his life’s mission–to bear the sins of the world, which is what this cup signifies.
Jesus was the Lamb of God bearing the penalty for the sins of the entire human race. The wrath of God was turned loose upon him. This partly explains the agony of Gethsemane.
40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Temptation surrounds us. Temptations to unhealthy food. To laziness. Selfishness. Untruthfulness. Bad temper. Dishonesty.
One is not to be blase about temptation, but watch and pray that one does not succumb. Because while our spirits are willing, parts of our human nature are very weak indeed.
42 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.”
At first, he asks his Father to remove the cup from him, if it is possible. But then, as he hears his Father’s voice more clearly, he modulates his prayer.
What he now says is, “If it is not possible that this suffering be taken away, may your will be done.”
43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
Even in extremis, he has compassion on his disciples. And allows them to sleep.
45 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. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
And he get up from his prayer, from his struggle unto death, fortified and resolved to face the bitter onrushing anguish with fortitude.
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