32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”
35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba,[f] Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
39 Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.
41 Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
43 Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.
44 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” 45 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46 The men seized Jesus and arrested him. 47 Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
48 “Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” 50 Then everyone deserted him and fled.
51 A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, 52 he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.
I picture Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane with his soul overwhelmed. How does God have a soul that is overwhelmed? The soul that what overwhelmed is an aspect of being human. Jesus was not infinite at that moment. His soul was limited and it was pushed to its limits. We all have a capacity for grief, anxiety, stress and anger. We use phrases like, “I have had about as much as I can take!” Jesus had developed the human soul as much as is humanly possible, but even he is saying, “This is as much as I can take.” He does not lose his wits, but he is at his wits’ end. He asks whether he can get relief from his Father, but the heavens seem silent. Jesus is at the end of his rope, he has no-one on his side. He is writhing in the dust. His soul is in anguish. However, he takes steps forward and resolutely hands himself over to his betrayer.
As our model, it is reassuring that Jesus was pushed to his limits. He had developed an immense capacity to handle abuse and suffering by cultivating his relationship with the Father. However, the source of his strength was about to be stripped away so that for us it would never have to be. His shoulders would be broad enough to carry the sin of the world and his love for us would be strong enough that he would endure estrangement from the Father. In the light of such an example, we must develop our capacity and enter into stressful and anxiety inducing situations in order to minister to those who are lost and to one another. In this way spiritual growth happens and true community is formed.
I hear another friend of mine has cancer. We are made of glass and we shatter. I wish we were made of stronger stuff. Jesus, you endured the limitations of what it means to be human. How do we thrive in a world so full of darkness? We throw ourselves into the dust. We would like cups to be taken away from those who have to drink bitterness. We remember how you struggled with moving forward in the Garden. Help us to push forward with each other and develop a life that shows your grace in the midst of the darkest places.
- How many times does Jesus withdraw to pray?
- Describe Jesus’ condition.
- Why did 1st Century believers need to remember their saviour this way?
- How do you feel seeing Jesus struggle?
- How does the combination of Jesus’ struggle and resolve change how we should live today?
Jesus goes off to pray twice, and each time the disciples fell asleep. Jesus is in a state of frustration at his disciples, anguish over his impending brutalization and murder, and resignation to his fate. Early Christians, as well as modern Christians need to realize that our Savior suffered with emotions and will, though He ultimately willingly submitted to the Father’s will in obedience. I feel almost vulnerable knowing this about Jesus. If this were the end of the story, I would have no hope; i would have no reason to trust in Jesus, but the great consolation is that we know the end. Jesus also knew the end and that gave him great mettle. Seeing these in Jesus should allow us to trust God and submit to His will, even when we do not like what that means. Whether it has to do with vocation, or being wrongly accused, or any other sort of predicament, we know that we can trust God and keep moving in spite of our circumstances. Jesus trusts the Father in the hardest moments of His life, and so can we, by faith in Christ.
Jesus withdraws to pray three times before He was seized and arrested. Jesus is distressed and troubled. His soul is completely overwhelmed. The actions of the disciples, falling asleep on Him, are not helping the situation either. First century believers are reminded that Jesus understands their suffering and persecution not only because He is God but also by His personal experience. As I read Jesus struggle, I am reminded that having struggles does not mean that I am lacking or failing as a Christian. It was in the will of God for Jesus to go through this. It amazes me that Jesus’ prayer for the cup of wrath to be removed from Him was not answered. Ultimately, Jesus was willing to do whatever the Father’s will was… and that’s how we as believers need to respond as well. We can make our requests known to God, but be willing to endure whatever His will requires.
Jesus went off to pray 3 times. He was deeply and profoundly troubled. The synoptics help illustrate this by pointing to the fact that Jesus was sweating blood, a condition which occurs only in extremely stressful and draining circumstances.
As the writer of Hebrews points out, Jesus is a compassionate and understanding high priest because He experienced real life as a real human. The depiction in the garden is a crazy and beautiful picture of Jesus in his humanity. It also would help 1st century (and all for that matter) Christians in living out the Father’s will as apposed to their own, no matter the cost and emotional conflict.
This scene always blows me away. It helps me see Jesus as a real, three dimensional person. It is also comforting to me. Jesus, the Son of God, was emotionally done and wanting other that what the Father had proscribed but ultimately wanted His Father’s will above His own. We live real life as Christians. It is not removal from hardship or putting on a plastic smile during pain. We should feel pain, hardship, and the weight of sin. Indeed, perhaps we should experience life’s hardships in a more honest way as Christ did. Yet as Christ, we must always want our Father’s perfect will above our own. What a challenge, and yet a beautiful prayer for our lives and testimony to others.
Jesus went away and prayed 3 times. Jesus was distraught to the point of death it says in the text. He seemed to be frustrated with His disciples as he found them sleeping multiple times. 1st century believers needed to remember the savior this way because they could see understand that Jesus was human and that He had emotions and relied on the strength of the Lord. It helps me feel that it is ok to have struggles sometimes. There are times that we feel hopeless and lost in our struggle, but that is when truth needs to kick and push those lies away.