Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” (Matthew 26:36-46, NIV)
As Jesus ate the Passover with His disciples, we sensed His burden. Now it seems to be almost crushing Him. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (v.38). Physically, He is facing extended torture and an excruciating death. Emotionally, He is already under tremendous pressure, and soon complete isolation and humiliation will be added. Spiritually, He is about to experience a sense of separation from the Father Who has been His constant companion and strength.
It is Jesus’ final hour or hours before his arrest. How does He spend them? He prays. His life has been filled with prayer. He has seemed in almost constant communication with His Father. He came to Gethsemane to pray so regularly that Judas knew where to find Him, even though he had left during the meal.
What can we learn about Jesus from His prayer in Gethsemane?
- When burdened or pressured, pray. Jesus didn’t resort to recreation or diversion or bodily rest. He prayed.
- He was honest with God about His feelings. “Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me” (v.39).
- It’s OK to struggle, IF we keep our eyes on the Father and continue to trust Him and stay committed to Him.
- You may have heard people say that we’re supposed to give our concerns to God in prayer, then leave them there; don’t ever go back to them. But here Jesus kept coming back, repeating the same prayer. Some burdens are so heavy that we can’t just pray about them once and forget them. They keep pressing on our minds and emotions. Jesus’ example teaches us to keep bringing our concerns to God whenever they come to mind. That’s not doubt. It’s faith. Jesus didn’t have anything new to communicate, but He kept bringing His burden to His Father.
- “Your will be done” in v.42 is the exact same Greek phrase used in the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:10. Jesus modeled and lived out the Lord’s Prayer. The Lord’s Prayer isn’t just words. It is an attitude toward God, a relationship with Him, a lifestyle. If you want to understand its meaning for life, look at the example of Jesus.
- “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (v.41). When Jesus’ hour of great trial came, He was ready. The disciples, who had spent the time sleeping, crumbled. They scattered in fear. Watch and pray.
- When every fiber of Jesus’ being was screaming to run the other way, He submitted because He remained focused on the Father and continued to trust Him, step by step. We can too.