April 1 – The Garden of Gethsemane

As you read the verses for today, I want you to read them slowly and read them twice.  It’s easy to miss what God is saying to us when we’ve heard the story many times.   The first time, I want you to think about what Jesus is feeling and thinking.  Try as best you can to put yourself in His shoes.  The second time, concentrate on what the disciples were thinking and doing.  Do you identify with them in any way?

Mark 14:32-42      (NLT)

“They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.” 33 He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. 34 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

35 He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by.36 “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

37 Then he returned and found the disciples asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? 38 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

39 Then Jesus left them again and prayed the same prayer as before.40 When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. And they didn’t know what to say.

41 When he returned to them the third time, he said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But no—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”

Luke 22:39-46     (NLT)

“Then, accompanied by the disciples, Jesus left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives. 40 There he told them, “Pray that you will not give in to temptation.”

41 He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” 43 Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. 44 He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.

45 At last he stood up again and returned to the disciples, only to find them asleep, exhausted from grief. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation.”

These two accounts of Jesus and the disciples going to the Garden of Gethsemane after the Passover Supper are slightly different, so that’s why I chose to use both of them today.

The description of the emotional and physical agony that Jesus was going through is so hard to think about.  He knows what is ahead, and He dreads it completely.  His plea for the disciples to stay near and pray for Him is so heart wrenching.  Can you imagine how you would feel if you were going through some horrendous trauma, and the friends you asked to support you fell asleep?

But what really strikes me is that Jesus didn’t get angry with them and tell them to get lost.  He just reminds them that they need to keep praying because it’s easy to give in to temptation.  How patient Jesus is!  To be that upset that one actually sweats drops of blood, and then to stay kind and loving with the friends that let Him down?  That is just incredibly amazing!  It’s one more piece of evidence that God loves us so much.  And it is one more piece of evidence that we are pathetic when it comes to living up to God’s standards.  Jesus understands their weakness.  He mentions in Luke that they are “exhausted from grief”.  And Jesus knows that they are going to run away when He is arrested – scared out of their minds.

That God loves us when we fail Him so much is just the most wonderful story ever!  So if you ever look at your life and feel that God must not love you because you know how many times you’ve messed up – stop and realize that forgiveness is right there.  God wants that relationship with you. He may gently remind you about what you should do next, but He won’t forsake you even if you run away from Him. 

Our song for today is Our God Is Love by Hillsong

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