Markby Robert M. Solomon
Gethsemane means ″olive press,″ a place where olives were crushed for their oil. It was an appropriate name for the place where Jesus suffered intense agony as He prepared himself for the cross. A man on death row would have all kinds of thoughts running through his mind, including the agony of death and the end of his earthly journey. Crucifixion was a cruel Roman punishment, intended to strike great fear in people. Its barbarity was unimaginable. Jesus would have to go through it, but it was not just the physical violence and the public humiliation of the cross that troubled Him.
His soul was ″overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death″ (v. 34) because of the unparalleled suffering of carrying the world's sin on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21). Who else could have understood such a crushing experience? Moreover, Jesus would have to face divine wrath and worse, the full consequences of the world's sins. It was the unimaginable spiritual suffering of the cross that overwhelmed Him (v. 34; cf. Hebrews 5:7-8).
Three times, Jesus implored His Father to take the cup (cf. Isaiah 51:17; Jeremiah 25:15) from Him. But He knew there was no other way to save the world of sinners except through the cross. So three times He submitted himself to the Father's will. All His life, He had sought to do the Father's will (John 6:38; 8:28-29; Hebrews 10:7) and now He was truly ″obedient to death″ (Philippians 2:8). How much more should we give up our self-will and submit to God's will! In self-denial, we must carry the cross to follow Jesus (Luke 9:23). There is no other way.
The three disciples-Peter, James, and John-who were asked to pray with Jesus in Gethsemane failed to provide human company and comfort, letting Him down. Though He asked them to stay there and keep watch (v. 34), they fell asleep. Three times He found them sleeping. Jesus had just told Peter that he and the others would be sorely tested, yet they slept through it all. Prayerlessness is a sure recipe for falling into temptation (v. 38). ″The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak″ (v. 38). What a contrast: Jesus falling to the ground in agonising prayer, and the disciples, curled up on the ground in comfortable sleep! Who will pray with Jesus?
Why was Jesus deeply distressed in Gethsemane? How would His relationship with His Father be affected when He later had to carry the sins of the world on the cross? Take time to thank Jesus for what He went through in Gethsemane and on the cross for you.
Christians often do not have deep struggles between pursuing their will and embracing God's will. If this is true, why so? Is there any area in your life where you have to clearly abandon your will to pursue God's will? Turn your thoughts into prayer.