PRAYER IN GETHSEMANE
Leslie M. John
“And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39)
Just before Jesus was arrested He went to a place called “Gethsemane”, in the Mount of Olives, along with His disciples. He took three disciples, namely, Peter, James and John, who were very close to Him, to pray. He was very sorrowful about the impending death, wherein He had to bear the sin of the world, and lay His life for our sake. His sorrow was not because He was going to be arrested, or face a trial, which of course, proved to be an illegal one, but because the sin of mankind that He was going to bear was very heavy.
It pleased the Father to bruise Him and pay the penalty for our sake and the very purpose of Jesus coming into this world, was to lay His life for our sake, taking upon Him, the curse of man and redeem us from perishing (cf. Isaiah 53:10).
His love for us was so great that He relinquished His glory in heaven, emptied Himself, and came in the form of servant, and in the likeness of man. It is so amazing that God, who was so un-approachable during the Old Testament period, humbled Himself so much so that He became man for our sake, and was in this world. He was fully divine and fully man on this earth.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. (John 1:1)
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14)
Jesus taught repentance and said the “kingdom of heaven” was at hand. He was born Jew and was their Messiah; yet they did not understand the truth. He healed the sick, cast away evil spirits from those who were afflicted by them. “When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples”. (John 18:1)
While He was in the Garden of Gethsemane, He said to His disciples to pray, and went little further and fell on His face and prayed to the Father saying, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt”. Notice Jesus prayed to the Father that if it were possible the death that He was going to face may pass; yet He said everything may be done, not according to His will, but according the will of the Father. If He prayed that the cup may pass without laying any condition, the Father would have, perhaps, agreed, and the purpose for which He came into this world would have been defeated.
It was not the purpose of Jesus either to set aside that cup of suffering, but because He saw that the sin of mankind was so grave that He thought, for a while, it may pass away from Him; yet very quickly He added to His prayer the words “nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt”. Jesus surrendered Himself to the will of the Father and prayed with much intense that being in agony His “sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground”.
“And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground”. (Luke 22:44). After praying Jesus went back to the disciples, and saw that they were sleeping and He said to Peter, “sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour? Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation”.
How often, we also sleep when God gives us great responsibility! Jesus admonished them to pray that they may not enter into temptation. True, prayer keeps us away from temptations. Prayer brings relief to our problems, trials, and temptations. God knows that we are made out of dust and, that is the reason, why He forgives us. His disciples were so dear to Him, and therefore, He consoled them saying “The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak”.
Jesus went again and repeated the same prayer because bearing of sin of man was so heavy on Him and He returned to see His disciples sleeping again. They were not in a mood to answer Jesus because their eyes were so heavy. Jesus went the third time to the same place, where He went twice before, and repeated the same prayer. He came back and saw His disciples were sleeping again. He said to them “Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners”.
How sad it is that we sleep when God gives us some responsibility and then we may have to hear from Him “Sleep on now, and take your rest”. When Elijah said to the LORD that He was the only one to serve Him, God said to Him that He reserved seven thousand who did not bow their heads to Baal. God’s work will never stop if we withdraw from serving Him.
Jesus suffered for our sake on the cross. After His death, He was buried and His body did not see corruption. He was triumphant over death, and rose from the dead on the third day. He appeared to many for forty days after resurrection, before ascending into Heaven. He is seated on the right hand of the Majesty and pleading on our behalf. He will come again soon to judge the quick and the dead.
No matter how grave is your sin, Lord Jesus Christ will forgive your sins, provided you confess them to Him and accept Him as Lord and believe that od raised from the dead. He gives everlasting life.