Matthew 26:30, 36-46
30 After singing psalms, they went out to the Mount of Olives… 36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He told the disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. 38 Then He said to them, “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow—to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with Me.” 39 Going a little farther, He fell facedown and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” 40 Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping. He asked Peter, “So, couldn’t you stay awake with Me one hour? 41 Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, Your will be done.” 43 And He came again and found them sleeping, because they could not keep their eyes open. 44 After leaving them, He went away again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. 45 Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the time is near. The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up; let’s go! See, My betrayer is near.”
Mark 14:26, 32-42
26 After singing psalms, they went out to the Mount of Olives…32 Then they came to a place named Gethsemane, and He told His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be deeply distressed and horrified. 34 Then He said to them, “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow—to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake.” 35 Then He went a little farther, fell to the ground, and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. 36 And He said, “Abba , Father! All things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” 37 Then He came and found them sleeping. “Simon, are you sleeping?” He asked Peter. “Couldn’t you stay awake one hour? 38 Stay awake and pray so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 Once again He went away and prayed, saying the same thing. 40 And He came again and found them sleeping, because they could not keep their eyes open. They did not know what to say to Him. 41 Then He came a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The time has come. Look, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Get up; let’s go! See—My betrayer is near.”
39 He went out and made His way as usual to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed Him. 40 When He reached the place, He told them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 Then He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and began to pray, 42 “Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from Me—nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.” [43 Then an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. 44 Being in anguish, He prayed more fervently, and His sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground.] 45 When He got up from prayer and came to the disciples, He found them sleeping, exhausted from their grief. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” He asked them. “Get up and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation.”
1 After Jesus had said these things, He went out with His disciples across the Kidron Valley, where there was a garden, and He and His disciples went into it.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
And He said, “Abba , Father! All things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”
There is an old saying, “Scripture is shallow enough for a baby to wade in but deep enough for an elephant to drown in.” Whether you are young and reading scripture for the first time or a tenured professor of Biblical Studies at a seminary, the Bible offers a wealth of wisdom and knowledge about God and his relentless pursuit of humankind. There are so many gems that can be mined from the pages of scripture, and it can never be exhausted.
God, in His grace, surrounded me with a family who were believers, and so I grew up hearing Bible stories. Noah’s Ark, Moses and the plagues of Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, Joshua and the Battle of Jericho, David and Goliath were all familiar stories that I heard sitting on my parent’s and grandparent’s lap before I could walk. David and Goliath was probably my favorite as a child. Could there be a more quintessential hero in the Old Testament other than David, the underdog who defeated the giant Goliath?
There is a danger with familiarity though. Sometimes a story can become so familiar that the person reading it or hearing it can miss things, not least of which are the impact and the profundity of the passage. Take John 3:16, for instance. It is easily the most famous verse in the Bible and the most memorized. But how often do I pause and really think about that verse, the weight of what is being said when I hear it or recite it?
Our passage today might be similar in the same way. The story of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane is put between the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry and the beginning of his passion. Like the birth narratives, the passion of Jesus Christ is typically focused on once a year. But if we rush too quickly past this episode that takes place right before those events, then we might miss the marvelous depiction of Jesus’ humanity.
What we find in this quiet garden is a Jesus who is very human. There was a struggle that went on in the garden that night. Jesus was facing, in those moments, the full weight of what He was about to do and why He was about to do it. There is no way that we can know exactly what weighed on Jesus’ heart and mind, but the words “greatly distressed” in Mark 14:33 hardly do it justice.
Jesus leaves his closest friends, who cannot seem to stay awake and are clearly unaware that the fate of humanity comes down to these moments. Jesus finds a place of quiet seclusion and wants there to be some other way for His task to be accomplished. He didn’t want to face the betrayal of Judas, the scorn of the high priests or the whips of the Roman soldiers. And he certainly didn’t want to face, what history tells us is, the most gruesome and torturous form of capital punishment ever devised.
His cry, “Abba, Father” is a gut wrenching cry. In those two words we are given a picture of a man who is all but broken by the weight of the world. But even though he would like there to be another way, a way that isn’t so hard and painful, in that very moment he says, “Not what I will, but what you will.” These words are perhaps the most important words ever spoken. It is there and then that Jesus resolves to submit himself to death, even death on the cross, for our sake. These verses give us a heartbreaking but beautiful picture of the greatest man who ever lived.
- We often don’t think of Jesus in terms of his humanity, that he had wants, that he was hungry and thirsty, that he felt sad, rejected, betrayed. In His humanity he was, in every way except sin, just like you and I. How do these verses show you Jesus’ humanity?
- Do these verses change your perception of Jesus’ humanity?
- Does this story of Jesus help you relate to Him more?
- Jesus is fully God, but, as Hebrews 4:15 states, He is not unable to empathize with our weaknesses and has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. What encouragement can you take from these passages for the trials and temptations that you are facing?