Mark 14:32 And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray. 33 And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; 34 And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch.
Jesus was well aware of what would be happening in the next 24 hours. By this time tomorrow, He would be in the borrowed tomb of Joseph of Aramathea. Most people estimate they got to the garden shortly after midnight, and He gave up His life at 3 PM that afternoon, so really only 15 hours. In the space of that time, He would have the absolute worst day anybody has had in the history of the human race. He would go through 5 trials, be rejected by the people, be beaten, whipped, spit upon, a crown of thorns placed on His head, told to carry His cross uphill to Calvary, have nails put in His hands and feet, have the cross hoisted into the whole, and be crucified. All that in 15 hours. I can see why He would be sore amazed!
So He took His most trusted disciples a little further to watch for the coming arrest, and to pray with Him. He needed prayer. Prayer for strength to go through with it. Prayer for courage to not speak any harsh words when confronted. Pray for peace, His peace, that passes all human understanding. And also, they needed to be strong. They needed to pray so they would be able to stand the test that was coming in just a short while. Their prayer life needed to be bolstered, just as ours always does.
I feel bad for people who don;t pray until they need God to intervene in a situation. they are missing such a blessing. A full, rich prayer life will keep us in God’s hands, and we will know His peace and joy even in the midst of the struggles of life. When we have a habit of praying in the good times, things are so much easier in the bad times. We have a built in trust of God – we don’t have to get prayed up in order to believe He will move on our behalf. In Eph 6:18, Paul finishes his description of the whole armor of God by admonishing us to “pray always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit”. Our prayers are a vital part of our armor – don’t leave them out when preparing for battle! This is the one part of the armor that we should never take off!
35 And he went forward a little, and fell onthe ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.
“Is there any other way this can be done, Father?” That was what Jesus wanted to know. The utter torment He was about to face overwhelmed even Jesus. This fleshly body He was in was about to be ripped apart, piece by piece, and He really wanted no part of it. He wanted a way out. Remember that He is human here. He can feel pain just like we can. He can have fear and worry just like we can. I think sometimes we skim over this scripture because we have heard it so often, and never really given it a lot of thought. Let’s think for a minute.
Suppose you knew that tonight, a man was going to break into your house with a loaded gun in his hand. You knew he was going to tie you up and beat you with his fists as hard as he could until you were almost unconscious. Then he was going to tie you up, the ropes pulled so tight they cut into your wrists and ankles. Then he was going to cut each one of your fingers off, one at a time. Finally, he would shoot you in both knees before he left the house, leaving you in the dark. If this was me, I would do anything I could to avoid being in that house tonight, and I would let the police know to double check the neighborhood for this guy. There is no way I would stick around for him to come.
Jesus wanted another way out and He asked His Father if there was another way. he asked that the cup would pass from Him. The cup of sin that He was about to drink – a concoction that held all the sins of the world. As foul and bitter tasting as you can imagine. he did not want to drink it, but he would do whatever the Father asked. He had been doing this all along, why stop now! Whatever the Father asked Him to do, He did, right up to the today. It did not matter what he wanted.
This should be our attitude. Not my will, but thine Father. When I do these devotions every day, I ask the Lord to guide my thoughts and my fingers – not my words, but His. When I write my poetry, not my words, but His. When I put together a worship service I pray that he will guide me where He wants to go during that worship service, and that I don’t step out on my own. I want to be in His hands and hear His voice and follow His directions – always.
37 And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour? 38 Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.
I have a tendency to give Peter, James and John a hard time for falling asleep on Jesus. He did ask them to watch, after all. He told them His soul was “sorrowful unto death”. He had told them several times he was going to die in Jerusalem – hadn’t they been listening? Now the time was close, and they fell asleep in Jesus most difficult hour. How could they, knowing what they should have known?
But then I think about myself. It’s easy for me to look back and say I would not have fallen asleep. But in reality, I can’t count the times that I have begun to take my prayer time and fallen asleep, or gotten too tired to continue and just stopped praying. I have no room to criticize them at all. We will see that they fell asleep three times. Now I may not have done that! It was between 1 and 3 in the morning, so I’m sure they were plenty tired. It had been a long day the day before, listening to Jesus teach all day long in Jerusalem. They dd not realize they would need the strength of that prayer to carry them through the next few days and weeks. They didn’t know what was coming. Jesus tried to get them prepared, but they slept instead.. When the battle came, their armor was not ready.
39 And again he went away, and prayed, and spake the same words. 40 And when he returned, he found them asleep again, (for their eyes were heavy,) neither wist they what to answer him. 41 And he cometh the third time, and saith unto 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. 42 Rise up, let us go; lo, he that betrayeth me is at hand.
Jesus prayed the same prayer 3 times. All three times He gave His will over to His Father’s will. All three times the disciples slept. Now the betrayer was coming and Jesus was ready. He was prayed up! He did not try to run or make it difficult to find Him. His prayer time had given Him the strength to face what was to come. As hard and torturous as it would be, Jesus was ready to face the whole thing.
The disciples, on the other hand, were not. They had slept through their time of prayer. We would see them in disarray and disbelief when the Roman soldiers arrived with Judas. Peter would take up a sword, all of them would eventually run off in fear, leaving Jesus alone with them. None of them would be taken with Him. None. they were not prayed up. They were not ready for this battle. They slept through their opportunity to gain the strength they would need.
What about you? How is your prayer life? Are you prayed up, ready for any battle that might come your way? Are you regularly going to the Father and telling Him you will submit to His will, no matter what it is? Are you strong in the Lord and in the power of His might? I urge you, as I urge myself, to get into a good prayer habit and stay in it. It will make your life so much better!