We started this Hard Sayings of Jesus series with what I speculated as
- Satan’s favorite verse: Matthew 7:1 “judge not”
- Scariest verse: Matt 7:21 “not everyone who says Lord will enter heaven”
- Follow Me (Mt 8) / Get Behind Me Satan (Mt 16:23)
- Today’s passage is perhaps one of the most sacred. It appears to be one of the actions the angels long to look into (1Pet 1:12). Scholars and religions propose different perspectives about Jesus praying while feeling abandoned and asking for options. Something is happening at Gethsemane with the Son of God that should cause us to remain in humble awe at what Jesus endures for us.
The Gospels show us Jesus as a man of conviction and strength under control. He’s focused and purposeful in all His words and actions. Yet, at Gethsemane, Jesus was vulnerable.
Illus: What do you do when someone is strong in your life suddenly becomes weak?
- Students when teacher has emotional day and acts out of character with negative or harmful words.
- Athletes who rely on coach’s wise strategy but in a heated moment the coach is kicked out and the team unravels.
- Children experience helplessness when their admired parents experience conflict or divorce.
- Adult children experience this when their parents become ill or reach a status, they’re unable to live independently.
Jesus was the consistent shepherd leader to His disciples. He taught them when they lacked understanding. He listened and counseled them when they had problems or conflicts. If there was a storm, Jesus calmed it. If there was a sickness, Jesus healed it. If there were critics or demons, Jesus silenced them. And now the time approached for Jesus to face His darkest moment and we see how Jesus responds to crisis.
Side note: This is how we can know the biblical authors’ veracity in that they show the frequent failures of the disciples, and in this case, the vulnerability of the Son of God.
We can know the biblical authors’ veracity in that they show the frequent failures of the disciples, and the vulnerability of the Son of God at Gethsemane and Calvary.Tweet
EXAMINE Mark 14:32-42 (cf. Luke 22:39-46)
32 And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”
33 And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled.
34 And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.”
35 And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.
36 And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
37 And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour?
38 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
39 And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words.
40 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him.
41 And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
42 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
We know Jesus has concluded His last meal with the disciples and they enter a place called Gethsemane. Gethsemane was a secluded valley along a mountain range with an enclosed area of significant tree coverage with olive trees. It was a place Jesus frequented for solitude and prayer (Lk 22:39; Jn 18:2), and the name Gethsemane means “oil press,” which in some sense mirrors the pressing forces in Jesus’ life. Likewise, Jesus mirrors for us how to respond when crisis circumstances enter our life.
When faced with crisis, gather your companions.
At this point, there are only 11 disciples and not 12. Judas has left the group to conspire with the religious leaders to arrest Jesus in the cloak of night.
Jesus knows a betrayal and an agonizing burden is on the horizon.
- Mk 14:18 Jesus said, “One of you will betray me”
- Mk 14:27 Jesus said, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered.’”
- Mk 14:30 Jesus said to Peter, “Truly, I tell you, you will deny me three times.”
Yet, Jesus still gathers the disciples for prayer. Specifically, Jesus took three disciples: Peter, James, and John to share more openly and ask for their prayer support. It was these three disciples who formed an inner circle and closeness with Jesus. They are featured prominently in Mark
- 5:37 These follow Jesus inside Jairus’ home to minister to his dying daughter. They see the outside funeral ceremony preparations, the weeping and panic-struck parents at the sight of a comatose child. Yet, they also heard Jesus speak “Talitha cumi, little girl, arise,” and she did!
- 9:2 These traveled with Jesus up a high mountain and saw Jesus’ body transfigure with radiant glory and intense glow. They heard the divine voice say, “This is my beloved Son, listen to him.” These disciples wanted to pitch tents and stay on the mountain top.
- 13:3 These sit and listen to Jesus teach about the end times.
So, in an overwhelming moment and perilous circumstance, Jesus, wants His closest friends near. He asked, and perhaps needed, these friends to be present and comfort Him.
- Eccl 4:10 “woe to one who is alone when they fall and has not another to lift them up.”
Yet, Jesus was not just asking for a shoulder to lean upon but was also seeking to model for the disciples how they could face crisis circumstances of their own. He was demonstrating vulnerability as well as hope in the faithfulness of God.
At Gethsemane, Jesus was not just asking for a shoulder to lean upon but was also seeking to model for the disciples how they could face crisis circumstances of their own.Tweet
- Who are your midnight friends? We need not just people that we could call to be present but those who would also pray for/with you. I think many have social acquaintances, but they don’t have deep friendships.
– Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times, and a brother
is born for adversity.”
- Are you in a spiritual community? Not just a Bible study but a tighter knit group where vulnerability is displayed; where people see your pressures and pains; and where friends help you carry burdens. If you are not in spiritual community, then you are not just depriving yourself but robbing others.
- If you’re not in a group, aim for a “High 5.” Beyond yourself, select 4+ others to join you. Determine frequency & location of your group meetings, and be open to the Spirit for others who may want to join.
- Relate fully but release freely. We see Jesus related fully to the three disciples, but unfortunately, they did not meet His expectations. They disappointed Jesus. While Jesus needed them to stay awake and pray, they fell asleep 3x.
37 And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? 40 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. 41 And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come.
When our friends let us down, we need to extend grace, realizing they have their own limitations & tribulations.
When faced with crisis, intensify your faith.
Jesus prayed many times on His own and with others. The opening chapter of Mark describes Jesus getting up early, while it was still dark to travel to a secluded place to pray (Mk 1:35). Prayer was not crisis control for Jesus but was His chief focus; it wasn’t His last resort but first priority.
If Jesus, the Son of God, valued and needed prayer as a necessary component of life, then how much more do we who are limited beings? Yet, we push onward and press through so many pressures and problems without taking time to pray for the Father’s wisdom, strength, peace, and resolution.
Prayer was not crisis control for Jesus but was His chief focus; it wasn’t His last resort but first priority. If Jesus, the Son of God, valued and needed prayer as a necessary component of life, then how much more do we who are limited beings?Tweet
Jesus’ prayer during extraordinary circumstances was a direct result of His prayer during ordinary moments. What we see at Gethsemane is astonishing, if not alarming adversity in Jesus’ life.
Jesus’ prayer during extraordinary circumstances was a direct result of His prayer during ordinary moments.Tweet
V.33 Jesus began to be greatly distressed and troubled. The language suggests sudden occurrence, like an emotional trigger of trauma all at a single moment. V.34 My soul is very sorrowful [περίλυπος = all around, encompassing sadness]. We know by studying Jesus’ life that He was not one to dramatize circumstances or exaggerate emotions. In fact, Luke’s Gospel describes Jesus’ prayer intensity resulting in physical sweat becoming like drops of blood falling to the ground (Lk 22:44). Remember, Luke was a doctor and was providing this medical detail, which we know today as hematidrosis where a person is under such distress that the blood vessels rupture and squeeze out your sweat glands.
V.35 And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. Jesus fell and faced the ground in humble prayer. Notice what Jesus calls God – “Abba, Father” (v.36). This would have been blasphemous to claim direct closeness with Almighty God. Jesus needed to hear the loving response of His Father. Yet, in this moment there is no dove hovering over Jesus; no booming voice testifying “This is my beloved Son”; no comforting reassurance from the Holy Spirit… just plain cold and incomprehensible silence. Before the beating fists of Roman soldiers touch His face; before the pulsating shards of metal and sting of leather touch His back; before the thorns pierce His brow; and before the nail spikes impale His hands and feet, Jesus feels the lowly depths of separation and loneliness from God the Father.
Echoes of Psalm 22 are on display from this moment throughout the crucifixion. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me from the words of my groaning. O my God, I cry by day but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. Yet you are holy and enthroned on the praises of Israel.”
If you are not resonating with this forsaken feeling, then perhaps in time you will. Our world is shackled with sin choices of multitudes, not to mention natural tragedies and catastrophes. Creation groans and grief surrounds us. While Jesus prayed and, in some sense, experienced silence, His hope did not waiver. He had persevered in prayer throughout His life knowing that God always answered prayer, regardless if there were immediate earthly results. To quote again from Psalm 22, “For he has not despised the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him… The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD” (22:24, 26)
Hebrews 5:7 “In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence.”
When faced with crisis, we must intensify an already existing faith. And if it does not already exist, there is no time like the present to seek the Father’s perspective and comforting presence.
- Pray 3-5x day. Set an alarm. Use Scriptures as your guide (recommend the Psalms / Lord’s Prayer). Consider fasting moments each day or entire days to replace eating with prayer. Something happens in our body when we are yearning for our Creator to provide for us what we often seek in other lesser sources that do not satisfy.
- Listen for God’s voice through other Christians. This was what Jesus needed from the disciples, and why He kept asking them, “Could you not stay awake one hour?” In moments of heavy transition and crisis, we need the wise counsel from godly saints.
When faced with crisis, we must intensify an already existing faith. And if it does not already exist, there is no time like the present to seek the Father’s perspective and comforting presence.Tweet
When faced with crisis, surrender your will.
This passage is remarkable, and it is here we discover our “hard saying” of Jesus.
36 And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” 39 And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words.
Jesus knew God’s sovereign plan had the realm of possibilities to atone for sin and provide salvation for all of humanity. And, if it were so, God would have undoubtedly done so. Yet, before the foundations of the earth, and according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead (cf. Ac 2:23; Rom 9:33; 1 Cor 15:3-4; Eph 1:4).
Jesus not only knew God’s sovereign plan but He knew God’s gracious character. He knew God was trustworthy. Therefore, Jesus could pray, “now what I will but what you will.” Jesus was willing to drink the cup of God’s wrath (cf. Isa 51:17).
Jesus drank the cup of wrath that we will never have to sip or taste. He swallowed the full sentence of sin and became our substitution for death. Jesus endured an unquenchable thirst so that we can be satisfied with the wells of living water He offers to us by grace through faith.
Further, Luke’s Gospel records that an angel from heaven appeared to Jesus to strengthen Him (Lk 22:43). God sent an angel to do what the disciples did not do. And don’t you wonder how the angel strengthened Jesus?
- Did angel spray some essential oils and light a Yankee candle to change Jesus’ mood?
- Did angel bring a horn to play Rocky soundtrack?
- Did angel pre-incarnate Ray Lewis to give a peptalk?
- It is more likely the angel spoke something like this:
- Romans 8:18 “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed.”
- Heb 12:2 “for the joy that was set before Jesus, that He endured he cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God…
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”
But what was the glory revealed to Jesus that wasn’t already obtained? And what was the joy set before Jesus that He didn’t already have?
- The Father’s approval? Jesus was already the beloved Son.
- The universe’s throne? Jesus was already King of kings and Lord of lords.
- The one glory, and crown, and joy that Jesus would receive after the cross would be our heart. Jesus endured the cross to save you and spend eternity with you.
- Isa 49:16 “Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.”
- Knowing God’s grace is wide, His love is deep, and His plan is good, what are the areas that you are telling God “Not your will but my own”?
Today you need to come to terms with God before God moves forward and allows the consequences of your choices to become a permanent fixture in your life. And if you think you have more time, just look at Judas. Jesus extended gracious opportunities until Judas drifted away from the disciples, marginalized Jesus, and ignored God’s Spirit.
41 [Jesus said:] It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
The garden of Gethsemane reminds us of the garden of Eden.
- In Eden, the first Adam heard God’s call but failed to listen.
- Adam chose the will of the flesh rather than faith in God.
- Thus, God cursed Adam with exhausting work and by the sweat of his brow to receive reward and salvation.
Yet, Gethsemane shows us
- The second Adam heard and heeded God’s call.
- Jesus chose to sacrifice His life and serve others rather than fulfill selfish desires.
- Thus, by the sweat blood and brow of Jesus, salvation’s work is complete. The inexhaustible grace of Jesus calls us to rest in Him.
- Come to Jesus.
- Trust Jesus with “not my will but Thy will”
- Pray for #WhosYour1. Easter is 4/9. So, set an alarm to pray for #WhosYour1 at 4 and/or 9 – you decide if AM/PM.
 Wayne Dehoney, “Gethsemane,” ed. Chad Brand et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 644.
 James R. Edwards, The Gospel according to Mark, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos, 2002), 432.
 This thought was inspired and adapted from J.D. Greear sermon: Gethsemane, Mark 14:32-44.