And so Jesus departs from the Upper Room . . . and begins the quiet march toward his arrest. He returns again this night to the Mount of Olives, and stops in the garden that we hold so dear, the Garden of Gethsemane. We watch as Jesus prays to his Father, about the agony that is soon to come upon him … Luke 22.39-46 - http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke%2022:39-46&version=NIV1984
Think for a moment what it must have been like that night . . . The disciples are with Jesus, forewarned about the urgency of that evening--they even see it in the Upper Room, and know Judas is somewhere putting his plot into motion. Jesus turns and looks at the men, and asks them to 'watch and pray--to wait for him'. Walking a little way off, Jesus enters into the most desperate prayer of his lifetime. He knows he is in this alone . . . how he loves the disciples, but they just do not get it! In fact, as Jesus looks over his shoulder, he sees that they are asleep.
Oh, the anguish our Lord feels . . . but we cannot be too hard on the disciples; remember, they have just had the Passover meal, which includes four cups of wine, and it has already been a very long day.
Jesus kneels down to pray, "Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine." It is not just the horror of the crucifixion that awaits Jesus, but the moment when God the Father would turn his back on him as all of our sins are upon him--it was the total separation from God. So, "being in agony, he was praying very fervently; and his sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground." (Luke 22.44)
Luke, a physician, was the only gospel writer who wrote of this condition; the clinical term is “hematohidrosis.“ Around the sweat glands, there are multiple blood vessels in a net-like form. Under the pressure of great stress, the vessels constrict. Then as the anxiety passes, “the blood vessels dilate to the point of rupture. The blood goes into the sweat glands.” As the sweat glands are producing a lot of sweat, it pushes the blood to the surface - coming out as droplets of blood mixed with sweat. [Mel Gibson did a masterful job recreating this Garden scene, including the hematohidrosis Jesus experienced in "The Passion of the Christ,".]
Now today . . . what are we to take from that Garden, where our Lord prayed, crying out to the Father? It occurs to me that every time God’s Word notes people 'crying out to God', he hears their prayers, and comes and answers. Friends, when we cry out to God in prayer, he hears us too.
The Garden is still there, at the foot of the Mt. of Olives, in Jerusalem, right next to the Church of All Nations. There are a few olive trees within a fenced area that date over 2000 years, which serve as silent witnesses to that night so long ago. Oh, if only those trees could speak!
Some thoughts of application to ponder: We know from the gospel narratives, that Jesus regularly retreated to pray, and be alone with his Father; so, on this the night of his greatest trial, it was natural that Jesus would pray. He sought the Father’s will, and accepted the Father’s will. I am wondering if it is just as natural for you . . . just as natural for me . . . hmm.
You and I cannot go back in time and take the disciples' place that night—yet we often find ourselves certain that we could have stayed awake, don’t we? WE would have prayed for Jesus as he had asked—and for ourselves as well. While Jesus has not asked you and me to watch and pray in the Garden with him, he has set before us a course to take. We can do what he has asked us to do—we can be ready to respond to his leading, and with his help, we can remain faithful. “…let us lay aside every weight, and sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross…” Hebrews 12:1-2
Get alone with your Father this week—seek his will for your life. Sit in his presence, and bask in his love. Thank him for his good gifts to you.
Grace and peace,
Homework assignment: find a garden and spend a set-apart time of prayer.
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