The Lord’s agonizing prayer in the garden of Gethsemane is recorded in the gospel of Matthew, Mark and Luke. The gospel of John however did not record the Lord’s travail during prayers to His Father in heaven. In fact even the name of the garden was omitted. The other three gospel accounts vividly described the Lord’s agony and travail when He prayed before heading to the cross of Calvary.
This was the end stage where Lord was dealing with His calling and mission to come into this world for the express purpose to save sinners from their sins. As the drama for the redemption of fallen men was heading into its epilogue, the intensity of the Lord’s conflict and sorrows became manifest just prior to His arrest and subsequent road to Golgotha Hill for His eventual crucifixion.
Matthew 26:36: Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
Matthew 26:37: And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
Matthew 26:38: Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
Matthew 26:39: And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
Matthew 26:40: And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?
Matthew 26:41: Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Matthew 26:42: He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.
Matthew 26:43: And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.
Matthew 26:44: And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
Matthew 26:45: Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
Throughout the Lord’s earthly ministry, He had never been exposed to be weak other than prior to entering the ministry during the forty days fasting tempted by Satan. The heart wrenching episode here before the Lord went to the cross fully manifested the severe burden with regard to the Lord’s mission to save lost sinners. Never had the Lord asked His disciples to keep Him company and share His burden and sorrows other than during this occasion.
The Lord’s request was reasonable and even very simple. It was not something requiring enormous resources or exceptional effort. It was simply just to watch the Lord while He prayed. Yet they failed Him!
The disciples failure was really tragic. In fact, they failed the Lord on three consecutive occasions in that short time span. Whatever happened to their empty boasting just prior to this incident in the garden of Gethsemane?
Matthew 26:30: And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.
Matthew 26:31: Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.
Matthew 26:32: But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.
Matthew 26:33: Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.
Matthew 26:34: Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
Matthew 26:35: Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.
Peter boasted he would be the last man standing even when everyone else denied the Lord. He went as far as claiming he would give up his life for the Lord. But he could not even stay awake to watch over the Lord during His time of need.
So when the Lord found them asleep, He spoke to Peter who boasted earlier and still Peter could not rise to the occasion. He was asleep again when the Lord returned the second time after pouring His heart out to His Father in heaven.
The Lord already told Peter he would deny Him three times before the cock crow. Right here Peter had already failed the Lord three times. Of course the rest was history when he denied he knew the Lord three times after the Lord was arrested and being judged by the religious authority of the day.
Likewise the other disciples who also boasted they would not deny the Lord and would die for Him also failed completely. This illustrated how weak human flesh is! Hence the Psalmist advice is always current.
Psalms 118:8: It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.
Even before the Lord began praying, He already told His disciples He was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. Didn’t they get the message? Did they empathize with the Lord? That was before they fell asleep. Continue reading The Agonizing Saviour