21 Jan Gethsemane Part 1: The Road to the Garden
Matthew 26:36-46 – Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
What someone does in the final moments of their life reveals who or what they care most about. As Jesus approached the end of His last day, He stopped to spend an entire night in prayer. Jesus’ actions reveal that meeting with the Father in prayer was His highest priority.
Reading Jesus’ Gethsemane Prayer is spiritually overwhelming, just as it was physically overwhelming for Jesus. Gethsemane means an oil press, and an oil press stood amid a field of olive trees where it was used to press the oil from the fruit by crushing it. John 18:1 reveals that an olive grove, or garden, was in this place where Jesus prayed. There, Jesus’ soul would be pressed until it was crushed, and heartfelt prayer poured forth.
The night road to the Garden of Gethsemane was dark. Foreboding, it was littered with the heartbreak of betrayal and abandonment. The air was thick with pain and angst. At that moment, the weight of the world came on Jesus. He carried the sin of humanity to the cross, to the Place of the Skull looming on the horizon.
Jesus was fully aware of where His ministry was going, foretelling the manner of His murder. The only thing worse than marching into a deadly assault is knowing the outcome well in advance and marching forward anyway.
From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. —Matthew 16:21
Maybe you know what it’s like to see that devastating moment just hanging over you. Have you had your Gethsemane moment? Were you overwhelmed by what was happening to you, feeling lonely because of abandonment and betrayal, helpless to change your fate, and sensing there was no way you were going to make it?
When your spouse says, “I’m leaving,” when the doctor says, “It’s cancer,” when the nurse says, “You’ve miscarried,” when your sibling says, “Dad died, and he didn’t know Jesus,” what do you do? What you don’t need to do on those days is pretend. Don’t pretend that life is easy, and life is good. It’s okay to say life is complicated and sometimes very, very painful.
In His moment of dying, Jesus didn’t distrust, doubt, deny, or disregard God. Instead, He desired God. So, He prayed. Even Jesus needed to pray!
When you are sick, lonely, hurting, and in need, you need to talk to God. Even sinless, perfect Jesus needed to talk to the Father. If Jesus needed to pray in His Gethsemane moment, you need to pray in yours.
- Do you pray to get from God or to get God?
- In your life, what has been your Gethsemane moment(s)? How did you respond?
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