Matthew 26:36-46 and Mark 14:32-42 all record Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. In this article I would like to explain three lessons from these passages.
1. Watch and Pray (Matt. 26:41 and Mark 14:34 and 38):
Jesus repeated these commands to Peter, James, and John when he returned from his first round of praying. He said to them, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Jesus came back a second and third time, but they had still fallen asleep.
The main point is perseverance. When we are in our hardest points we need others to look after us through prayer and physical help in our grief.
2. Jesus knows grief (Matthew 26:38-39; Mark 14:34-36):
He was grieved to the point of death. At this point towards the end of his life he was walking through the valley of the shadow of death. This wasn’t the first time Jesus had felt grief, rejection, and persecution in his ministry but it was the beginning of the culmination of his experiences.
The main point is that we can look toward Jesus because he doesn’t merely sympathize with us but he empathizes with us fully in every way.
3. We each have a Garden experience
I think one of the best things about the Bible is that God invites us to live in the narrative of Scripture. For example, the Jews would celebrate the Passover to commemorate their Exodus from Egypt; Christians take part in communion to commemorate the sacrifice and death of Jesus; and baptism is a picture of participating with the Israelites in their crossing over the Red Sea.
I remember my junior year of my studies at Multnomah University at the all-school retreat where Dr. John Katsion, the communications department professor, spoke about his testimony and the Garden experience that he and his family had been through. That probably was one of the most memorable lessons that I remember because it was raw, it was real, and it was challenging to think through some of my own experiences. Now on the other side of that- over the river and through the woods of my own grief- I see that it is important, that even when we are asking God to take away our pain we can know there is deliverance and healing in very unique, individual, personal, and unexpected ways.
I hope you can remember this as you think through Good Friday until Easter Sunday!