12 April 2022
This year, Lent begins on March 2nd. This year’s Easter is 17th April. Until then, it is time to remember Jesus’ suffering ( the cross) and spend time with repentance. Today we will look at the prayers at the “Gethsemane Garden” just before Jesus went to the cross.
36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” 40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” 43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. 45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” (Matthew 26: 36-46)
Jesus was afraid of the cross, naturally. Jesus came to the Garden of Gethsemane to prepare his heart. He said to 11 disciples except Judah, who betrayed Jesus. “Sit down” (verse 36) and then took only three (Peter, John, James) and went further (verse 37). These three were the three who saw the glory of Jesus in the Mountain of Transformation. They witnessed Jesus changing in front of them, his face shining, and his garment whitening like light. They were the three who had the privilege of seeing the glory and suffering of Jesus up close.
Jesus tells his disciples. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” (Verse 38) Human Jesus was distressed in front of the cross. Trials will come to our lives, too. Faith is tested at that time.
Jesus wanted at least these three disciples to understand his feelings, to bear the burden together, and to unite their hearts. That’s why Jesus asked. “Please wake up with me and pray.” Before that, Peter says he is ready to die with Jesus, and John ＆ Jacob also drink a cup and suffer together. Given the enthusiasm of these three, they should have been able to wake up and pray.
Where and what is Jesus doing now? Now Jesus is praying as a high priest in heaven. The Holy Spirit works on this earth, and Jesus is praying in heaven. Today, various events are happening in the world. War between Russia and Ukraine. Coronavirus infection. In these last days, Jesus is asking us, modern disciples of Jesus, to pray. “Wake up with me and pray.” We can’t pray while we’re sleeping. We must have our real eyes and our spiritual eyes open.
Jesus bowed down and prayed. “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (verse 39).
Looking at Luke 22:43,44 in parallel, an angel appeared from heaven to Jesus and empowered him. Jesus was in pain and prayed earnestly. Sweat fell to the ground like a drop of blood. For Jesus, this was a big battle. Prayer has the realm of fighting. Wrestle with God and wrestle with the reality we are facing. God sent an angel to help Jesus so that he could win such a battle. Our prayers are also helped by the Holy Spirit, our helper, and angels also help us.
“Jesus comforted by an angel” / Carl Heinrich Bloch
First of all, Jesus honestly said his wish. “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. (verse 39).” Humanly, physically, he wanted to escape the cup = the cross. There would always have been a temptation to escape the cross. It is a temptation to become a different form of savior (messiah).
In the wilderness the devil seduced Jesus (Matthew 4: 1-11). He tried to avoid the cross and take him to the path of becoming the Savior. An economical messiah that turns stones into bread. The same is true in Japan. The better the economy, the higher the approval rating of the prime minister. Especially in poor countries. It’s okay to jump off the temple, it’s unharmed, and the Messiah does such a miracle. A superhuman who is surprised by everyone. Even today, if somebody jump from a skyscraper and are unharmed, this person can become a hero. Jesus received such a temptation from the devil. He rejected those temptations by saying, “This is what the Bible says,” and was victorious.
Jesus increased the bread and performed various miracles. These are not bad, of course, but of course good. The miracles of Jesus met the needs of the people and healed and freed them from suffering. But what was the primary purpose of Jesus coming to this earth? It was to crucify for mankind, our sins.
Jesus called the angels of the army and was able to escape from the Roman soldiers. But he knew that it was not the wish of God the Father. Therefore, he prayed for your will (what God the Father wants me to do).
He practiced the “Lord’s Prayer” (May the will be) that was taught to his disciples. And it is also set as an example for us in modern times. After wrestling with God in prayer, it is the faith that is finally entrusted to the will of God. Unfortunately, prayer will not be all fulfilled as we wish. But we can believe that God is doing the best in our life. God is a dear God and does what seems to be the best in our lives. God knows each of us more than we know ourselves.
Jesus is back. Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping(verse 40).
“Agony in the Garden” / by Bellini
Jesus said to them. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” (verse 40)?” Jesus’ loneliness further increased when he saw the disciples who could not pray in unison with themselves. It must have become stronger. He has to face this challenge alone. It’s very painful to have no friends and no one understands us. The disciples would have been ashamed.
Jesus showed sympathy to his disciples. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (verse 41).” The hearts of the disciples were burning. However, they were weak. Even though our hearts are burning, our bodies are really weak. We get sleepy soon. If we want to pray, the first thing to do is to wake up before praying. So, if we want to pray, we must first think about how we can wake up. In my case, I first make coffee and drink it early in the morning and pray while walking not to sleep.
Jesus also goes to pray away from his disciples. “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” (verse 42).” I think it’s more determined than the first prayer (verse 39). He accepts the cup (the cross) and is determined to obey the will of God. Jesus returned with a second prayer, but his disciples fell asleep as before him. They couldn’t keep their eyes open and get up (verse 43).
Jesus goes to the third prayer (verse 44). The disciples fell asleep again. Jesus woke them up and said. “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. (verse 45).”
“Agony in the Garden” / by Andrea Mantegna
Are we awake and praying? This is the end of the world. Perhaps we felt it from this Russian attacked, which could happen at any time during World War III. Russia has attacked Ukraine, but the Bible prophesies that it will attack Israel in the future. I think the Second Coming of Jesus is approaching. Let us wake up and pray both spiritually and practically.
Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” (verse 46.)” Judah has arrived. It is time for Jesus to be captured and on the road to the cross. Jesus tells his disciples to “stand up,” but he feels like he is also telling himself. Through prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus accepted the will of God and won the prayer. And he stood up and went out to fight the sin of the cross.
Through prayer, we can know God’s will and be convinced of God’s plan. And we will be given the power to obey the will of God, not our own wishes. Jesus is now looking at this world from heaven and praying for intercession. I think he’s very sad to see that the war is happening because of hatred, and that people are going to perish because of their sins without believing in Jesus.
Jesus wanted his disciples to wake up and pray in the Garden of Gethsemane, but now to the disciples of Jesus (us) ,too. I hope we will pray even more. There are many things to pray for. Let’s pray that the Jews in Ukraine can return to Israel and so on. Pray about family problems and our life.
Prayer is a battle. But there is an area that opens after praying. We are empowered to stand up and face the problems we are facing. With the help of the Holy Spirit, respond to Jesus’ command to “wake up and pray.”