Lessons from Gethsemane

Then Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written,
‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” Peter said to him, “Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.” Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter said to him, “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And so said all the disciples.

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.” He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.” And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 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. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”

While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.” At once he came up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you are here to do.” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way?” At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But all this has taken place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

Matthew 26:31-56

Two of my favorite things Jesus ever said happen in Gethsemane. First, “My father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” (verse 39) Jesus is deathly afraid of what is to come, and like any mortal would, He would prefer it not to happen. Yet, He recognizes that God’s will is more important that His own comfort. This is how we should pray too. “Lord, I pray for ____, but Your will be done.” It is one of the most important lessons Jesus ever taught us. And one that has been on my heart these last few days. My Grandfather is sick and possibly dying, and my Mom is understandably having a hard time with it. But he is old and has lived a long, happy life, and I think that it’s just God’s time for him. So my prayer has been, “God, your will be done. But please, whatever happens, let him not be in pain. And help my family through, whichever way this goes.” And that’s a hard prayer to pray, because in our selfish hearts we WANT to pray, “God, save him.” But that isn’t what Jesus prayed, and is not how we are meant to pray either.

Second, “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (verse 41) The disciples wanted to be great and loyal followers. They promised they would die before they denied Jesus. Yet in the end, they all fled. Being a disciple of Christ is hard work. None of us will ever be perfect at it, however willing our spirits might be. Peter, the Rock the Church was built on, denied Jesus three times! But Jesus forgives them all and extends His Grace to them anyway. When we sin, and we will, we need to persevere like the disciples eventually did, learn from our mistakes, and become better people. We can’t let our mistakes eat away at our soul. Jesus has forgiven us for them, so it’s okay for us to forgive ourselves.

As He is being arrested, Jesus makes one more very important statement. He tells His followers not to fight for Him. God’s will will be done, He does not need “help” from us. And in this case (as in many) violence would have actually prevented God’s will! I think Jesus would prefer us to live the kind of life He lived, so that others may see the true peace that comes with knowing God. Violence rarely wins new believers, but peace is something everybody wants in their deepest hearts. 

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One Response to Lessons from Gethsemane

  1. Pingback: Praying for Strength | Understanding the New Testament

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