God in the Garden – A Holy Week Reflection

Last night at church I shared some comments to set up a time of corporate prayer. Below is an adapted version of these comments. I hope this challenges you to reflect on Christ’s life in a new way this Easter season.

Matthew 26:36-46 (NASB)

 36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. 38 Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.” 39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” 40 And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? 41 Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” 43Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. 45 Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand.

Just days earlier the crowds had welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem singing hosanna in the highest. It was a greeting fit for a king, and Jesus was a King. But these praises were merely the momentary expressions of an ever fickle public. Soon these same crowds would be crying for his crucifixion. Jesus knew what was coming, and this knowledge was a crushing weight. You see for Jesus, Gethsemane was the ground between exaltation and execution. Here in this garden He calls out to his Father and asks for a way out. In his words we hear the deepest human pain and the fullest Divine submission.

As Jesus wrestled with his destiny, he also experienced abandonment. Even his closest friends couldn’t stay awake to walk through this time with him. He would soon be betrayed by someone who he had shared his life with for three years. It was Christ’s darkest hour, and he had to face it alone.

This portrayal of Christ may not be the image we are most familiar with or most comfortable with, but it is real. Our hero and healer is also our suffering servant, and to forget this fact is to forget something about our Savior. We must not rush to the resurrection. We must pause in Gethsemane to remember the pain of Christ and to remember the weakness of our own flesh.

During this time Jesus asked his followers stay, to watch, to pray. This week, make it your goal to do just that. Please set aside a time of prayer this week to acknowledge the sufferings of Christ and to confess to God your weakness. Written below is Isaiah 53. This is an Old Testament prophecy of the sufferings that Christ would endure. Please allow this passage to shape your time in prayer.

Isaiah 53 (NASB)

1 Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
3 He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
6 All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.

7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
9 His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

10 But the LORD was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.
11 As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.

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