Summary: Jesus is overwhelmed, yet is able to move forward. At the same time the disciples fail in the face of small challenges. How can we move forward without failure?


Matthew 26:36-46

Jesus Prays the Disciples Sleep

Let me ask you a question:-

How is Jesus like you? What are some of the things that Jesus does that we do as humans?

(weeps, gets angry, sleeps, eats, loves, was tempted etc).

So we see similarities don’t we. Let’s push it a little further.

Are there times when Jesus was overwhelmed?

Are there times when Jesus was struggling?

Was He ever in despair?

Did He ever ask God for a different life?

It is good to think about these questions because the Scripture says this:-

We do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.

Hebrews 4:15

In other words Jesus went through the difficult stuff.

Jesus isn’t like the company CEO in undercover boss. You know that tv show were the boss of the company disguises themself and works in the company for a week or two. They get a bit of a taste of what the workers go through, but not really that much.

Jesus is more like an identical twin. He looks like us. He knows exactly what we feel. He experiences life as we do. He understands the challenges, temptations, difficulties, joys sorrows and everything else. He knows what it is like to have doubts, to second guess, to want life to be different, to be overwhelmed, to struggle, to despair.

Which makes Him a Saviour who is able to help us get through every aspect of life.

Let’s see how it works by turning to Matthew 26:36-46 (read)

Do you think Jesus is feeling a little overwhelmed? Absolutely. Let me show you what several different Bible translations do with verse 38.

My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. (NIV)

I am so sad that I feel as if I am dying. (CEV)

My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. (ESV)

The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me. (GNT)

This sorrow is crushing my life out. (MSG)

No matter how you look at it Jesus is really struggling. Definitely He is overwhelmed. The language used here is language used by those in despair … even those who are depressed. Jesus is facing a situation which is almost killing Him emotionally.

Let me ask you. Have you had times when you felt like this? You relate 100% with the emotions being expressed here.

I’m overwhelmed by the pressures of life.

I’m an emotional wreck.

I feel like life is crushing me.

Everything is just too difficult.

Can you relate?

Now let me ask you this.

How many times in those situations have you thought, “Christians shouldn’t feel this way?”

How many times have you been told by others, “Christians shouldn’t feel this way?”

Really? Christians should feel this way. So why is Jesus allowed to?

If it was wrong to feel like this then Jesus wouldn’t feel it … would He?

But Jesus does … he does feel this way.

Which makes what happens here very significant – because it is helping us to know how we can keep in connection with God, even when we are feeling in despair, or depressed, or overwhelmed.

So here is Jesus, expressing that He is overwhelmed to the point of death. What is the cause?

It could be that He is overwhelmed by the thought of the torture, and beating, and physical pain, and ultimate brutality that comes with being crucified.

It could be that. But there are many people throughout history – we call them martyrs – who have faced pain, death, torture … and even crucifixion … and they have had a very different response.

The early church father Ignatius who lived from in 67-110AD was thrown to the wild animals in a Roman stadium. “May the wild beasts be eager to rush upon me. If they be unwilling, I will compel them. Come, crowds of wild beasts, come, tearings and manglings, wracking of bones and hacking of limbs, come, cruel tortures of the devil, only let me attain unto Christ"

Ignatius is basically saying, “Bring it on” and if it doesn’t happen he will pray for it to happen. He certainly isn’t overwhelmed and crushed. And many martyrs have done that. They were able to do it because Jesus strengthened them through it. Which means that Jesus here is not worried about the pain and torture, or even about the crucifixion. There is something else that is far more overwhelming. 2 Corinthians 5:21 and Galatians 3:13 tell us what that something is.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

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