Easter Devotion - Day 418-04-2019 | Matthew Campbell | YOUTH
Garden of Gethsemane
Read Luke 22:39-46
I'm sure that, for many of you, the thought of exams in the next number of weeks takes a little shine off the Easter holidays (sorry for mentioning it). Isn't it strange how, even when you know that a big exam is extremely close, you still do everything in your power to shut it out of your mind, just so you don't feel bad about not revising? In fact, maybe the very reason you're reading this devotion is because you needed something to help you procrastinate!
I remember frantically revising the night before a big test at University. Feeling drastically unprepared as I studied at the kitchen table, I genuinely remember looking at a whole uncooked chicken on the counter and thinking to myself, 'I could eat that right now, get food poisoning, and genuinely be too ill to take this test tomorrow.' I was prepared to do almost anything to avoid the test.
In this morning's passage, Jesus knows that a test is coming and, because of his love for humanity, there is no avoiding it. When reading this account, you will quickly become aware that this test makes any other test we have faced pale into insignificance. As Jesus sits in the Garden of Gethsemane, he knows that, in just a few hours, he is about to bear the weight of human sinfulness!
Notice 3 things about this episode
- The Pressure Jesus felt
What is so interesting about this passage is that we see, perhaps more poignantly than ever before, Jesus' human nature. As Jesus prays in the garden, he experiences the full depths of human emotion. Mark's Gospel tells us that his soul was sorrowful unto death and that Jesus fell flat on the ground. Here is a man who, quite literally, has the weight of the world on his shoulders. Luke, as a medical doctor, includes another very graphic detail which illustrates the intense magnitude of the pressure Jesus felt. Look at verse 44, 'And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.'
This experience of sweating drops of blood is a known medical condition called 'Hermatidrosis.' It is a condition experienced only by those who feel pressure to such a degree that the blood vessels which feed your sweat glands burst, causing blood to seep through the skin. This is the level of intense emotional stress that Jesus was under. No doubt, at some point in your life, you have felt serious stress. Even at that point, however, you probably didn't think that your blood vessels were about to burst! This is the severity of Jesus' pain. And we haven't even got to the cross….
- The Prayer Jesus Offers
It is in the context of this extreme pressure, Jesus offers his prayer to God the Father. Read verse 42, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Here we see Christ's human nature, not only experienced, but spoken. However, as Calvin says,
'Christ’s humanity is different than ours in that His grief and weakness is never mixed with sin. Jesus is not questioning His Father’s wisdom when He asks the cup (that is, God’s wrath; see Jer. 25:15; Zech. 12:2) to pass from Him (Matt. 26:39, 42, 44). Instead, while bowing to the Almighty’s will, He admits honestly His dread of what is to come upon Him — divine affliction for the sins of His people'
Jesus shows us how our prayers should be heartfelt and honest, whilst modelling full submission to whatever God the Father has in his divine will, regardless of the cost!
- The Price Jesus' Pays
Ultimately, as we read this text with the perspective of the whole Gospel account, we know what would happen. Jesus, in spite of the fear and anxiety he felt regarding his crucifixion, would willingly submit to the will of God the Father by dying a horrific death. Isn't it interesting that, while Jesus spends this entire night on his knees, his final combat with Satan before the cross; the disciples are asleep (v45-46). They were supposed to be praying aswell, albeit in a different place (v40-41). As Rory Shiner says,' Jesus stayed awake all night to do his work of salvation. The people of God did nothing.'
This episode is a good picture of the work of Salvation itself. Jesus did everything. The people did nothing. Personalize that last statement for your own reflection. With regards to the forgiving of sins and the hope of eternal life, the Garden of Gethsemane reminds us that Jesus did everything and you did nothing. The only thing you contributed to your Salvation was the sin that made it necessary! Your Salvation was bought with a price, and it was a price that you didn't pay. Gethsemane reminds us that it would be a painful, excruciating price which Jesus himself would rather avoid. But praise God for those precious words in the Garden - the words upon which your eternity depends - 'not my will but yours be done.'
Questions for Reflection
As you read Luke's description of the intense pressure Jesus faced in Gethsemane, how does it help you appreciate the cross this morning?
In spite of the excruciating spiritual and physical pain, Jesus willingly submitted to the Father's will! What does this tell you about the trinity?
Jesus was praying, the disciples were sleeping. With regards to Salvation, Jesus did everything, man did nothing. How does this truth make you more thankful for Jesus' today?