Entering and Leaving Our Gethsemane
Perhaps as we meditate, we should spend more time with Jesus in Gethsemane. On the night of His betrayal, that garden was filled with intense emotions. Do not just read what happened there but take time to feel the emotions: the emotions of the sleeping disciples whom Jesus rebuked; the emotions of Judas as he betrayed the Lord; the emotions of the mob; the emotions of the disciples as they fled. Above all, share in the emotions of Jesus.
They entered Gethsemane, and He left eight apostles and took Peter, James and John with Him to another place. These three men then saw something they had never seen. Their Lord had always seemed so strong and powerful, but now in their presence, “He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed” (Matt. 26:37). They saw Him in a way they had never seen Him before. They heard Him say, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”
He prayed, then He came and found them asleep. He had asked them to watch with Him, but they failed. His soul was even more burdened, and the Bible described how great this burden was. “And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the earth” (Luke 22:44). He returned to the three disciples and found them asleep. This time he did not wake them to share His grief and agony with them. He simply returned for the third time and prayed, “Not My will but Your will be done.”
There are at least two ways to look at this simple prayer. One could look at it as though the burden was so great, He was just ready to quit—the fight was not worth it. He was like a frustrated wife or teen who looks at the “master” and throws up their hands and says, “Whatever, I quit. You win.”
However, this is not where Jesus was when He prayed. It is not the prayer of one who had hopelessly fought a losing fight, nor one who had no hope and was driven by circumstances into surrender. It was a prayer of perfect trust. He was talking to His Father He had known eternally. It was a prayer from the heart of One who was loved to a God who is love. He trusted in God and this changed Him.
Notice how He then changed. The mob arrived; the arrest; the mockery of several trials. He entered Gethsemane in gloom and left this garden with calm assurance. He was a victim, but He understood He was a victorious victim. What made that difference? What changed a troubled soul in great agony to one of calm assurance? It is simple. He talked to the Father. When you are in despair and you are almost ready to quit, talk to the Father, and His peace will change you and give you the victory.