After the Passover supper, Jesus and his band of disciples arrived at the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus’ human conversations were coming to an end and everything else to be understood would be later, much of it falling to the able and trustworthy role of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus had visited this garden often. He liked to pray there. Deep into the garden he took Peter, John and James, while he went further to pray. He became sorrowful, distressed, horrified, the Bible says. Three times he returned to them, three times he implored them to stay awake and pray – pray that they not enter into temptation. Jesus finally asked, Couldn’t you stay awake with me one hour? Why are you sleeping? The disciples did not know what to say to him and they could not keep their eyes open. Luke says they were exhausted from their grief.
Grief is so exhausting, and so is suffering of every kind. How many times have I felt the weight of that question, Couldn’t you stay awake?, when desperately needing to pray but caving in to sleep? Why couldn’t I stay awake even one hour? Why couldn’t I get up one hour earlier for prayer? When I know I am in a precarious place, why don’t I pray to withstand temptation?
So the disciples were sleeping while Jesus was anguishing over the decision of his life. I don’t know what Jesus would have told his disciples if they had been awake, but it seemed he desired some human support in his greatest trial. Jesus was not blindsided by what was ahead; he fully knew. It was the disciples who would be blindsided for they were sleeping when they should have been praying.
Jesus knew the cross was facing him, yet there comes a point in every earthly life when, even if we know what’s coming, it calls for a decision.
In a garden, the place where sin was born, Jesus made the final decision to save man from his sin.
Three times Jesus asked the Father if there was any way possible to be spared from drinking the cup – the full cup containing all sin. Two cups are mentioned in Scripture – one is the cup of salvation, and here, Jesus was referring to the second cup, the cup of God’s wrath. The cup of God’s wrath is the cup of righteous judgment to be poured out on man’s sin. Three times Jesus said, Take this cup away from me, each time followed by, Nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will.
Luke tells us Jesus was in great anguish, so much so that His sweat became drops of blood. Physicians today say this is indeed possible. Under great and extreme duress, human capillaries can rupture, causing blood to mix with sweat and seep through the pores. An angel came and strengthened Jesus, and the third time He arose from prayer, Jesus was resolute. His time had come.
Jesus’ resolution, decision, and unswerving commitment was made at Gethsemane.
Gethsemane was where the decision of the cross was made final. The horror of sin, the devastation of sin, of every sin – Jesus drank the cup to its dregs.
Question: Are you and I sleeping through the biggest decision of our lives?
Prayer: Lord,don’t let me sleep through my life avoiding or refusing to face the greatest decision I will ever make – the decision of what to do with my sin. Wake me up this Lent season and draw me close to your Son, so close I can hear his voice and see the droplets of bloodsweat on his face. Open my heart and mind to what Jesus did for me on the cross. Amen.
The Story of Gethsemane: Matthew 26: 36-46; Mark 14: 32-42; Luke 22: 39-46