Upon arriving He took three of his disciples, those closest to Him, and went farther in. The Gospel account informs us that Jesus was deeply sorrowful and troubled, and He told the disciples he felt like He was dying. Then he told them to stay awake with him. He went a little further and fell on his face and prayed.
Jesus knew His crucifixion was near and his prayer reflected his struggle about what would happen the next day. He was torn by the knowledge of His Father’s will and all that it involved.
Three of the Gospels recording the events in the Garden of Gethsemane provide further insights into His prayer. Two of the Gospels tell us He prayed three separate times. One Gospel tells us an Angel visited with and strengthened Him. One of the Gospels tells us he was in such agony that He sweat drops of blood.
Books are filled with explanations of what took place that night, and we know that if Gethsemane had not taken place, there would not have been His crucifixion.
Jesus’ struggle in the Garden was whether or not to accept His Father’s will for His life. His own words describe the depth of His struggle. “Yet not my will, but as you will.” “…your will be done.” (Matthew 26:39, 42 CSV)
These glimpses into His struggle bring comfort to us. For sure, there may never have been as much agony and we don’t usually sweat drops of blood. We do, however, struggle with yielding our will to that of our Heavenly Father.
This happens every day. Every single day people make significant decisions to yield their will to others and to do incredibly sacrificial things.
Think for a moment on the split second decisions Law Enforcement Officers must make, putting their lives on the line to protect and defend others. The same is true of members of the military who leave family and friends behind. They enter the battlefield and often make the ultimate sacrifice, dying in service to their country. And then there are the just as real and just as agonizing struggles that the rest of us make every day, torn by a crisis of faith to yield our wills to that of our Heavenly Father. It is during moments like these that we can need to reflect upon the time Jesus spent in the Garden in agonizing prayer with His Father.
There are moments in life when God brings you to a point of crisis, a moment in time so difficult and so painful that you are almost paralyzed. You don’t know what to do and you don’t know which way to turn. You have two choices before you. One leads to the death of something you love. The other leads to death to self. Choosing the latter, however, may ultimately lead to resurrection and something far better.
Questions for Reflection:
1. Have you ever faced a moment of crisis similar to what is described above? If so, what that was like for you?
2. What helped you through that moment? What resources did you call upon to help with your decision?
3. Have you ever witnessed someone who faced a similar moment of crisis and chose the hard decision even though it may have cost them everything?
4. Did that decision lead to some type of resurrection and something far better? If so, please describe it.
5. Feel free to comment on anything else about these opening thoughts that you think may be helpful.