Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32, 33, 36, 37; Luke 22:39-45; John 18:1.

Jesus and the disciples, all twelve, have spent hours fellowshipping together over the meal--the Last Supper.. Jesus dips the morsel into the sop and hands it to Judus. Judas accepts it. Christ declares Judas the traitor. Judas leaves the upper room. John 13:26

The group now heads out into the night, where here and there in the village lights from flickering candles can be seen, as people partake of the paschal lamb.... And the Lamb of God is moving moment-by-moment closer to His sacrificial death, of which the Passover lamb is a symbol.... They walk through the eastern gate and down the hill, Jesus and the eleven disciples--who love Him, but cannot comprehend the meaning of the work He had come to do, nor of the hours which lie imminently ahead. The full moon, its lights shimmering on the waters of the brook Kidron, shines on the group as they pass over the bridge.

Now they are nearing Olivet. Christ turns aside into a garden, the thick branches of olive trees casting heavy shadows on the path. Christ has been to this Gethsemane Garden on many previous occasions, for prayer and for rest. But this time it is different. This time His heart is very heavy. This time His thoughts turn upon Himself, and upon the awful hours that are coming up so soon. He does not want His disciples to witness His agonizing ordeal; so He tells them to wait at a certain spot while He goes further to pray.

However, we have to remember that even though He is God, He also is man. He feels the desperate urge for human companionship, so He takes with Him the disciples who were the closest to Him, Peter, James and John. These were the three, alone, who had witnessed the times of His greatest power and glory when He raised Jarius' daughter, and when He was transfigured. Further the four of them went, into the darkest part of the garden. It is a comfort for Him to have His friends near, but here He stops. He knows He must face this last part alone. He says to them, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here and watch with Me." He goes forward a short distance to a spot where the moonlight cannot penetrate, blocked out by the interlaced branches overhead. Here He kneels in prayer.

Here He feels the awful quietness all around Him. He feels a terrible heaviness upon Him. He pours His soul out to His Father. Matthew 26:39: "Oh My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as you wilt."

Here we see the human (versus the divine) nature of Christ demonstrated. He asks His Father in heaven if there is any other way to accomplish what He was sent to earth for, other than the ordeal He is about to face. Mark 14:36 & Matthew 26:39 The burden seems almost greater than He can bear. The cup is too bitter for Him to drink. It is not only from the death which He shrinks; it is not only that

He feels that His life on earth has not accomplished what He had wanted it to accomplish; but it is for the sins of the people that he suffers. It is for betrayal of Judas that He grieves; He loved Judas as much as He loves the other disciples. It is because the people of Jerusalem, His own people, have rejected Him, and are about to condemn Him to death--Him, the Son of God. And it is for the sins of the whole world that will be laid on Him. These are the things that overwhelm Him. It is because of these agonies that He sweats drops of blood as He prays.

He can bear the agony no longer. He staggers to His feet and seeks the comfort of His friends. But they are asleep. They have failed Him in His hour of need. It is as though He is all alone. God had made it clear to Him that there was no other way to redeem man from death, but by His death; so for the time being, even God has deserted Him. And his human friends have failed Him; His countrymen have condemned Him; one of His associates has betrayed Him. With an even heavier heart He goes away again. He repeats the prayer, submitting Himself to the will of God. He again encounters the Powers of Darkness, who do their best to weaken His will, to make Him abort His mission of salvation. He could. He has the power. He is God. But because He is God, He will not. He has thrown off Satan's power. He has conquered death. Yes. He has conquered death!

He leaves the Garden. His greatest ordeal is over. He knows that in just a few hours His travail will be over. The darkest hours were yet to come, but the hardest hours are over. Totally exhausted, He is at the point of death. Here in the Garden, as at the beginning of His ministry, on the mountain when Satan had tempted Him so sorely, an angel comes. Although His earthly friends have failed Him, God has not. He has sent an angel from Heaven to strengthen Him. He returns to His sleeping disciples, but He no longer needs their help. His human weakness is finished.

During the following hours of suffering, the Savior never again shows a trace of weakness. With perfect majestic self-control, He meets His enemies.

© Helen Dowd

Helen's Bio.

I am a happily married homemaker and a graduate of Prairie Bible College (Three Hills, Alberta). I am thankful to the Lord for my Christian parents who brought me up to love the Lord, and who taught me that there are no second-generation Christians, and that each person must accept Christ's gift of salvation--the shedding of His blood on Calvary. I gave my heart to the Lord at the age of eight. .... Now that I am in my retirement years, I am enjoying spending time at my computer, writing poetry, stories, inspirational articles, and Bible stories.

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