Summary: Gethsemane communicates to us that there is a spiritual reality beyond what we can see and experience for now – God’s holiness, his perfect justice, the pure love between Father and Son, the horribleness of sin, our full depravity, the reality and necessi
We have all experienced moments in our lives when we felt like the weight of the world was on our shoulders. A difficult decision lay before us, and the responsibility felt as though it would crush us. Either the task was extremely difficult to accomplish, or the consequences of our actions would bring down anger upon us. So Jesus has reached that moment. In the Garden of Gethsemane we see what is the scariest sight for us – our own Lord trembling. Let’s explore what this “dark night of the soul” meant for Jesus and means for us.
27 “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written:
”‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.’
It was bad enough for the disciples to be told that one of them would betray their Master. As if to deepen the gloom of such an announcement, Jesus adds that all of them will abandon him. In the time of trial, no one will prove himself faithful to Jesus. He adds though an assuring word about his resurrection. 28 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”
It is clear that Jesus, as solemn as he may be, is not moping. He is not talking like this: “Some friends you are. As soon as I am attached you are going to run away. Nobody cares about me.”
Instead he is saying, “The time for my trial is coming, and, just at it is written in the scriptures, when I am struck, you will fall away. But, don’t despair. I will rise and will be with you again in Galilee. Everything is going according to plan.”
That is what Jesus is saying. What Peter and the disciples choose to hear is moping, and nobody is going to call him a coward! Here Jesus is again insisting on talking about dying. Okay, if he wants to talk that way, so be it. He learned the first time after Jesus’ harsh rebuke that Jesus is intent on dying. But this is going too far to include him as a cowardly runaway. Rise again? Yeah, yeah, yeah. What do you mean I will fall away!
29 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” Guess he told Jesus!
30 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”
31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.
In a way, you have to admire Peter’s zeal, even if it is filled with an unfounded, obstinate self-confidence. He is not going to give in, no matter that he is contradicting his Lord who has never once shown himself to be wrong about anything. Peter knows in his heart that he loves Jesus and would never abandon him. Not to be outdone, the others take courage and chime in as well about their loyalty.
They continue on their way to Gethsemane. This is an olive orchard outside the city on the Mount of Olives directly across from the Temple. The name means “olive press.”
32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”
35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
We have reached the scene of Jesus’ greatest agony next to the moment he calls out to his Father on the cross, “Why have you abandoned me.” Jesus has been angry before and distressed, but nothing like this.
…he began to be deeply distressed and troubled.
34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death”…
…35 he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him.
36 “Abba, Father…Take this cup from me.
Why is he so troubled? Well, duh! He’s about to be crucified! That’s true, and that certainly is a gruesome death, but still, other men have stoically faced torture and death. Jesus certainly doesn’t come across as a coward or as weak in the face of suffering. He is, after all, the Son of God. Though he feels in his human nature every bit as much as we do physical pain, nevertheless, he does have that unique relationship with his Father, which gives to him strength and peace in a way that no one else has ever experienced. Others have drawn on their relationship with God to boldly endure martyrdom; shouldn’t Jesus even so much more be able to?