Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
Yesterday we looked at Jesus’ prayer for his disciples. Today we look at his shorter but far more intense prayer in the garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. Unlike Matthew and Mark, Luke does not mention the names of disciples whom Jesus took with him into the garden, nor does he mention the three times Jesus urged them to wake up and pray. On the other hand, only Luke mentions the angel who came to strengthen Jesus, and the incredible intensity of his anguish. Luke thus focuses our attention entirely on Jesus.
Jesus goes to his usual place, knowing full well that Judas will find him there (John 18:2). He moves away from his disciples, kneels down, and pours out his heart to his Father, asking that the cup of the Father’s wrath and judgment would be taken from him, but that the Father’s will be done. His agony and intensity in prayer is such that his sweat is like drops of blood. The intensity and depth of his anguish is so great that the Father sends an angel to strengthen him. See the love the Son has for the Father that he will submit even to this greatest of sufferings! See the love the Father has for the Son that he will send an angel to care for him! See the agony and anguish that Jesus undergoes for those whom he loves, for those for whom he will endure the cross and death! Was there ever love like this?
All three gospel accounts record that Jesus asked the Father’s—not his—will be done. Jesus prayed this knowing what it would mean for him: tremendous physical suffering, and worse, the agony of separation from the Father for a time. All this Jesus did for you and for me, for all his children. May we fall on our knees and pour out our hearts in gratitude to our dear Savior and Lord!
Gethsemane can I forget?
Or there thy conflict see,
thine agony and bloody sweat,
and not remember thee? (James Montgomery)