It is with a heavy heart that I approach these next two blogs, but it is necessary to appreciate the depth of His glorious resurrection.
Jesus and the eleven leave the upper room, plod down the hill away from the city, across the Kidron Valley and part way up the Mount of Olives to a familiar garden where they often come for prayer. Jesus tells them to, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” (Matt. 26:36) and “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” (Luke 22;39)
Then He takes his inner circle (Peter, James, and John) a little farther into the garden and confesses to them:
“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Matt. 26:38
Do you hear His agony? He knows what is ahead. He has seen Roman crosses beside the road before as a warning to anyone who dares to defy Rome. I often wonder, at what time in those years of ministry did he first realize the price He was going to pay. In this garden called Gethsemane (olive press), Jesus’ very soul is being pressed into submission.
We read Jesus’ lengthy 26-verse prayer in John 17. How did John know what Jesus said? Evidently at the beginning of this prayer, John was still awake and able to overhear Jesus in his agony. We hear much repetition in this prayer as may happen in some of our most agonizing prayers when we’re trying to express ourselves as many ways as possible over one particular issue. Perhaps as He speaks, His prayer grows louder.
Jesus longs for his close friends to pray as well, but Mark records that Jesus comes three times to the disciples and finds them sleeping. The first time he speaks directly to Peter.
“Simon, are you asleep? Could you keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” Mark 14:37-38
Yes, Peter, the spirit of denial is nipping at your heels.
We know that one of the things Jesus prays is:
“Father , if you are willing take this cup from me [the cup of suffering]: yet not my will but yours be done.” Luke 22:42
Luke tells us that Jesus’ praying becomes so fervent that he begins to sweat.
An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. Luke 22:43-44
That, my friends, is more agony than I can imagine.
As you focus on the redemption plan God provided for you through Jesus’ sacrifice, meditate in these next days before Easter on what He endured for you. Move beyond your trite prayers, your pleas for all-things-me and give Him the praise and adoration He so richly deserves.
Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe.
Sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow.
~ Joyce ~