Summary: Focusing on the power of prayer and what the disciples may have missed out on in the Garden of Gethsemane.
LUKE 22:39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40On reaching the place,
Luke assumes his readers knew that “the place” was the garden of Gethsemane. Why is that? Probably the same reason he added “as usual” to the fact that Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Jesus had a spot.
This spot was a place to connect with his father. Especially in tough times. We know he went to this spot just before he picked the 12 disciples. This is where Jesus was transfigured before the eyes of Peter, James and John, Jesus’ inner circle. This is where Jesus eventually ascended to be with the father as he left this earth. I would venture to say that Jesus actually felt closest to God when he was around this place.
Where’s your spot? Is it your custom to go?
...he said to them, "Pray that you will not fall into temptation."
By this time, it’s pretty late. It’s been an eventful day. It seems like things might be winding down. Jesus knows this is just the beginning of the longest night of his and his disciple’s lives.
Most of us don’t have the privilege of knowing when trying times are just around the corner. (MACU) Jesus warns these guys that they are about to face some difficult and tempting times.
41He withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed,
I’ve always wondered why Jesus isolated himself in this way here. He was far enough to be seen, but not necessarily heard. Maybe it was because what Jesus was facing was just unexplainable to his disciples. They’re so ready to pick up swords and fight, they will never understand why Jesus is struggling with the fact that he’s about to die.
At the same time that Jesus is about to accomplish the culmination of his mission, he is facing the most severe temptation of his eternal life. How was he supposed to explain this to the disciples?
Ever been in a life or death situation with your kid right there with you? How do you explain it in such a way as to not make the situation worse?
Even today we have a hard time truly grasping the extent of Jesus’ surrender to God’s will through this crucifixion. This is why the bible is full of analogies to help us put a frame of reference around it.
Jesus uses one of those analogies next…
42"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."
To the untrained ear this just seems like the job of a waiter, to carry a cup. It meant far more than that in the OT.
The cup was a symbol of God’s wrath in the Old Testament. The only way to describe the unleashing of God’s wrath on people was by using the imagery of pouring or drinking. It covered or completely consumed a person.
Isaiah 51:17 Awake, awake! Rise up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the LORD the cup of his wrath, you who have drained to its dregs the goblet that makes men stagger.
Jeremiah 25:15 This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me: "Take from my hand this cup filled with the wine of my wrath and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it.
I think it’s safe to say that we are looking a moment in Jesus’ life where he would rather not do what he’s about to have to do. For at least a moment, Jesus would rather have done something other than absorbing the wrath of God in our place. Had Jesus followed through with that desire, we would be without hope, because only Jesus could accomplish what he did on the cross.
Jesus is the only one to ever live without sin. Had he sinned once, he would have rightfully had to die for his own sin, leaving no room for him to die for ours.
Even after living a sinless life, Jesus could not have died on the cross for our sins unless he was eternal God. The temporary death of an eternal God meets the requirements of an eternal death for mortal men.
Only Jesus could be our great Prophet, Priest and King.
If all that sounded really confusing, read Hebrews, it will confuse you even more, but every bit of it is true. Had Jesus given in during this split instance of temptation, we would be in some deep trouble.
Praise God he resisted. It clearly wasn’t easy for him to do so…
Hence the next verse back in Luke 22,
43An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.