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Garden of Gethsemane

By admin | March 25, 2011

After crossing the Kidron Valley, they entered into the Garden of Gethsemane, which is located at the foot of the Mount of Olives. Jesus came there for rest and prayer when He was in Jerusalem. The hour was very late, probably after midnight, and the disciples were very tired and sleepy, but Jesus’ emotions were becoming more intense. The week had been difficult, and the pressure from His pending execution on the cross was intensifying. In the darkness of the night, Satan took advantage of His weaken physical condition and attacked Him.

Jesus tells eight of the disciples to remain close to the gate and pray that they not fall into temptation. Matthew and Mark tell us that Jesus took Peter, James and John farther into the garden and began to be sorrowful and troubled. Jesus said unto them, “Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.’ He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will’” (Mark 14:34-36).

The physician, Luke, adds these details, “Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:43-44).

This is completely out of character for Jesus. Why had this man, who had been so strong and courageous all his life, become so distressed about his pending death?

We are now simultaneously seeing both the human and divine aspects of Jesus. The cup, from which Jesus must drink, refers to the things that must take place before his death. We are quick to assume that His agony was coming from His anticipation of the physical suffering of that inhuman, torturous method of execution. Yet, for Jesus, there was another reason outweighing the physical suffering. He must drink the contents of the cup – the sins of all who are alive, of all who have lived in the past, and of all who will live in the future. He was to become sin for us, and his perfect righteousness would be replaced with our righteousness, filthy rags, before the Holy God (Isa. 64:6).

Jesus, who has never sinned, and who had been in perfect unity, and harmony with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit from the beginning, is about to be separated from them for the first time. Sin is an act of independence and rebellion against God and Jesus was about to become sin. Sin is repugnant to His Holy character, and in the weakness of the flesh, He was terrified.

Dr. Luke said that Jesus pleaded with the Father on the most personable and loving terms. He used the name “Abba Father”. This would be like saying: “Daddy, please let this cup pass from me”. But the cup could not pass. However, God the Father sent an Angel to strengthen Him, just as He had done when Satan was tempting Him in the wilderness.

Jesus asked His disciple to remain behind and pray. Three times, during His agony, He returned to them and found them asleep. As the hour for this arrest approached, He returned and awakened them. ”And Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with His disciples. Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, ‘Whom are you seeking?’ They answered Him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am He.’ And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Now when He said to them, ‘I am He,’ they drew back and fell to the ground” (John 18:2-6).

Some have estimated that there may have been as many as five or six hundred people who came to the garden to arrest Jesus. In the darkness, they did not recognize him. When Jesus confronted them they fell to the ground. Did they fall because of fear of this man who had taught with authority, and had demonstrated so much power or was it because of their surprise that He had come forth to meet them, or were they just knocked down by His glory. We are not told why they fell, but it was obvious that Jesus was clearly in control of the situation. He was laying His life down. No one was taking it from Him.

Mark, Matthew, and Luke tell us that Judas came forward and with a kiss confirmed His identity. With a kiss, a badge of love, he betrayed his Master. Peter drew a sword and was ready to fight, but Jesus rebuked him. The time had come for Jesus to lay His life down. “Then the detachment of troops and the captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound Him. And they led Him away to Annas first, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas who was high priest that year” (John 18:12-13).

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