Beautiful gardens have always captured my attention. There is something peaceful in shaded gardens of trees and flower lined paths where a person can find renewal from the hustle and bustle of the world. Jesus and his followers regularly got away to the Mount of Olives. It is there we enter the Garden of Gethsemane.
And [Jesus] came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him.Luke 22:39, NASB
But this exercise on this evening, The Day the Lord Made (Psalm 118:24), was not for relaxation and enjoying the peaceful scenery. No, the Scriptures tell us –
. . . (He) began to be grieved and distressed.Matthew 26:37b
I think sometimes we forget that Jesus was fully God AND fully man. He felt as we do but without sin. And He has much on his mind!
In his book, Almost Empty, An Inside Look at the Passion Week, Stephen Davey conveys the tremendous load that Jesus felt in coming to terms with all that He would suffer –
- The coming desertion of the eleven
- The denial of Peter
- The rejection by the nation Israel
- The injustice of His coming trials
- The loss of fellowship and intimacy with the Father when he takes on the sin of the world
- The physical and emotional brutality of the cross
- The fact that He, who knew no sin, would become sin for us
And He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.” And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground, and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by.Mark 14:34-35
“The words, ‘. . . [He] fell to the ground, and began to pray . . .’ are in the imperfect tense which denotes action in progress. It could be read, “He fell to the ground and prayed; got up, went a little further, and fell down and prayed; picked Himself back up, staggered a few more steps, and fell again and prayed. Hebrews 5:7 adds that He did this ‘. . . with loud crying and tears . . .’”– Davey
And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.Luke 22:44
Davey explains this with the medical term – hematidrosis, or “sweat of blood.” He describes it as “a rare condition and can be produced by extreme stress. It is caused when the capillaries underneath the surface of the skin burst and blood mingles with sweat. It seems that the shedding of Jesus’ blood began in the garden.”
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 Thou wilt.”Matthew 26:39
He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Thy will be done.”26:42
Davey’s instructive word is this:
“Throughout this lonely experience, Christ the man never lost His sense of utter dependence upon His Father.”
I especially appreciate what He includes next in this valuable book:
“Christ’s moments in the garden did not drive Him to ask, ‘Where are You, God?’ or to say, ‘You must not love Me anymore!’ Our Gethsemanes tend to bring us to the wrong conclusion about God – that He is absent, or angry, or punishing us. The mark of Christlike maturity during a Gethsemane experience is the ability to pray, ‘My Father! I know You’re mine and I am [Y]ours! I still trust You. I know You haven’t abandoned me!”
Christ’s honest struggle – to bear the penalty of the sins of humanity!
Jesus Christ found His strength to do the Father’s Will by turning to the Father in prayer! How much more should we?!