The night before he was crucified, and after sharing the passover meal with his disciples, Jesus took his disciples to the garden of Gethsemane where he spent hours in prayer to his father. “Please take this cup from me – not my will, but yours be done.”
He agonized over the decision to go through with the plan.
He agonized – to the point of sweating it out – we are told he sweat ‘great drops of blood’.
During this time in the garden of Gethsemane, he had withdrawn from his disciples to pray, but asked that they wait for him so that they wouldn’t be tempted. Yet … each time he went to check on them, they were asleep.
How often do we fall asleep while praying? I know for me, it is easy to ‘drop off’ – even in the middle of a sentence sometimes. If I leave praying till night time, then it becomes so easy to lie my head down … and sleep.
Yet we blame the three disciples for not holding on, during this important evening. They knew it was somewhat special, but didn’t know how special. They didn’t have the gift of hindsight that we have. Even Jesus asked them ‘Couldn’t you stay awake for one hour?”
The garden was where Jesus fought it out emotionally. He was drained. He let go of self, to do what his Father wanted him to do. He needed to withdraw for a time – yet he wanted the familiar company of those who had been closest to him in ministry. Close beside him, but not so close that he couldn’t have the private time to speak with his father.
All of his 30 years of life were to lead him to this place, he knew that. But like all of us, when we know something difficult is coming up, it doesn’t make it any easier to go through with it. For some its a sleepless night, others talk incessantly, others wring their hands with worry. Each of us have our own way of dealing with the inevitable.
For Jesus, his way of coping was through prayer. Not the usual meek and mild prayers, but prayers from the heart, from deep within his spirit.
After the prayer, he rejoined his disciples, and this was also the time of betrayal – when Judas Iscariot brought his army of officials and handed Jesus over to them.
The garden of Gethsemane was where Jesus took the stand against evil – and won in prayer.
The cross was where the ultimate victory was accomplished.