In the Garden

Matthew 26:30–46 (NKJV, also appearing in Mark 14:26–42; Luke 22:31-34,39–46, John 13:36-38)

30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

31 Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written:

‘I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

32 But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”

33 Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.”

34 Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”

35 Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” and so said all the disciples.

Matthew 26:30-35

Jesus reiterates His contention that He will be killed, but takes His pronouncement a step further, stating that they will be scattered like sheep in fulfillment of Zechariah 13:7. He tells them that He will meet them after His resurrection in Galilee. This shocking, then comforting, message leads Peter to resist and say that He will not leave Him. Jesus then prophecies that Peter will deny Him three times before the rooster crows at sunrise. Peter again emphatically denies that He will deny Christ, and all the rest of the disciples chime in with agreement. As most readers will know, Peter does exactly as Jesus predicts, to his own horror. Do not argue with Jesus. God, in His ominiscience, knows all. Trust His word!

36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. 38 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”

39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”

Matthew 26:36-39

Jesus then leads His disciples out to Gethsemane and asked them to watch with Him while He prayed. Peter, James, and John were called a little further, and Jesus began to pray the iconic prayer of Gethsemane for His cup to pass from Him. His humility and submission, though, were on display as Jesus further said, “…nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Jesus willingness to die for us was magnificent! He knew what was to come, and the man–Jesus Christ–struggled under the weight of the suffering and shame. The man asked to be spared, but nevertheless submitted to will of the Father, and the Son of God–Jesus Christ–walked head first into the storm of horror, knowing that the will of the Father was divine and holy, and salvific for all of mankind.

40 Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” 43 And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy.

44 So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”

Matthew 26:40-46

When Jesus rose from His first round of prayer, He found the disciples sleeping. It was quite late at night, and they were tired, as human beings will become. Their humanity was on full display as Jesus struggled with an eternal conflict on the horizon. In the book of Mark, it is recorded that Jesus called out as a child to His Father, calling Him “Abba, Father.” Yet, even in His anxious time of prayer, He persevered, even taching the disciples to watch and pray, overcoming the weakness of the flesh by the willingness of the spirit. He exemplified this to poignantly, as the gospel of Luke reports that His sweat become as great drops of blood, a condition known as hematidrosis, where capillaries that feed sweat glands rupture. This is caused by extreme physical or emotional stress. This illustrates the powerful pressure Jesus must have felt in this moment.

Jesus prayed two more times, for a total of three, and came back to find His disciples asleep each time. He finally woke them and told them that the hour was at hand, that His betrayal was happening now. He knew Judas was near with the guard to arrest Jesus. This was another shift, a transition from the awareness of the Passion to the beginning of the Passion. Jesus’ work was about to get serious in a way that all the present world would witness.

Artwork from https://www.findshepherd.com/true-prayer-matthew-26-39.html

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