The hour of darkness had come. The Lord Jesus was betrayed into the hands of wicked men to be tried and sentenced to death. The sinless Son of God stood in trial before sinners. What bitter irony! But He gave Himself willingly because of love. In His final moment before the arrest, He prayed alone in the garden, being in extreme sorrow. But He did not shrink back in fear. He overcame and left the garden to meet His captors.
Did You Know...?
- Gethsemane (26:36): …means “an oil press.” In a field covered with olive trees, oil presses were used to extract oil from the fruit. An olive grove was in that place (John 18:1). 12/83 A garden, east of Jerusalem beyond the Kidron valley and near the Mount of Olives…. [ref]
- Legions (26:53): A Roman legion numbered about 6,000 soldiers. Such angelic protection (of about 72,000 angels!) could easily have defended Jesus from any opposition. [ref]
- “Your speech betrays you” (26:73): Peter had a decidedly Galilean accent that was conspicuous in Jerusalem. [ref]
Record your observation on how Jesus was most lonely during these painful hours.Hide Answer
The disciples could not keep watch with Him in the garden (40,43,45). All the disciples forsook Him and fled (56). Peter followed at a distance (58). The entire council was against Him and no one spoke for Him (59). Peter utterly denied Him three times (69-74).
Compare the Lord Jesus and the disciples (You need to look at the whole passage, starting with 31).Hide Answer
The disciples were all confident at first (33, 35). When Jesus was praying, they fell asleep. Jesus faced His captors calmly and peacefully, but one of the followers fought them with the sword (50, 51). Jesus stayed, but all the disciples fled (56). Jesus, on the other hand, remained silent while being tried and tortured. But Peter, who was the loudest of the disciples in declaring his loyalty, openly denied his master in the face of danger and even swore that he did not know Jesus (74).
Observe the Lord Jesus before, during, and after the prayer and record your observation. What change took place in Him?Hide Answer
Before the prayer, He was sorrowful and deeply distressed, even to death (37,38). He went into the depth of the garden, fell on His face and prayed. In His prayer, He asked to let the cup pass from Him if it were possible. But He still asked that the Father’s will be done. Thus He prayed three times. The book of Hebrews describes His prayer as one with “vehement cries and tears” (Heb 5:7). After the prayer, He said with courage and determination, “Rise, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand” (46). He was no longer in distress or sorrow.
If the prayer in Gethsemane was a decisive struggle, what was the Lord struggling with and how did He overcome?Hide Answer
His struggle was with the weakness of His flesh (cf 41). According to His will, He wished that the cup be passed from Him, but in His spirit He wanted to submit to the Father’s will. Through His three prayers, He had completely denied His will. Then He received strength from above, which enabled Him to face the sufferings ahead (Lk 22:43).
What can we learn from the Lord’s prayer in our prayers to God?Hide Answer
Our prayer should not be limited to telling God what we want. Instead of insisting on our wishes and desires, we need to learn submission through prayer. Because submission is a difficult lesson, we need to pray persistently and earnestly the way Jesus prayed. If we pray fervently with the purpose to conform our will to God’s, God will strengthen us to accomplish His will.
What did the Lord expect from the disciples? Why?Hide Answer
To keep watch with Him. The Lord brought along his three closest disciples probably to train them to know how crucial prayer is. Not only so, the disciples’ watchfulness would have been a great encouragement to Him in the hour of trial.
Why do you think the disciples could not do what the Lord asked?Hide Answer
They were probably very tired (43). But the fact that they couldn’t keep awake when critical danger was ahead of them showed that they did not know how urgent the situation was. Perhaps their over-confidence also had a part in their slumber. They thought they were ready for anything. But just as the Lord had said, their spirit was indeed willing, but their flesh was weak. Without the courage that comes from prayer, they all forsook their master and fled.
What does it mean to “watch and pray” (41)?Hide Answer
Peter, who had learned his lesson through failure, told us that to watch means to be clear-minded and self-controlled (1Pet 4:7 NIV). Rather than be drunken with pleasure or blinded by our ambitions, we need to always be aware of where we are spiritually and on the look out for temptation (1Pet 2:11). This kind of spiritual awareness comes about through an attitude to suffer (1Pet 4:1, 2) and humble self-examination (1Cor 10:11, 12).
How does watchful prayer guard us against temptation?
Why did the Lord add the words to His command “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak?”Hide Answer
Without watchful prayer, we would not be able to do what we know is right. Our hearts would be “weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life” (Lk 21:34). So we should never be confident with just knowing right from wrong or with a strong determination. We need God to strengthen our inner being (Eph 3:16).
Have you ever had the experience of prayer in Gethsemane? Describe the experience and its effect.
The chief priests and elders sent a great multitude with swords and clubs to look for and arrest Jesus (47,55). What does this tell us about these religious leaders and about the multitudes?Hide Answer
The multitudes expected Jesus to defend Himself with sword and thought that they could capture Him with swords and clubs. They did not know that He was a king of peace and would not resort to earthly weapons. Their large number also showed their timidity. Why did they need all these people and weapons when Jesus had only a few followers? Why did they not seize Him when He was teaching in public?
Have you ever been “betrayed with a kiss”?
How do we sometimes feel compelled to defend a good cause with a “sword” the way the Lord’s follower did? Why is this wrong?Hide Answer
The follower who used the sword seemed to be helping the Lord. But the Lord rebuked him because he was using his own ways to try to please God. In our relationship with others, including fellow Christians, we may sometimes feel justified to rebuke or punish those who are against us because we feel that we are on God’s side. But James tells us that our anger cannot accomplish God’s will (Jas 1:19, 20). When we do things out of indignation, we are actually led by our selfish desires. Such motive and ungodly deeds cannot please God.
How did the Lord’s words in 53-54 show His greatness?Hide Answer
Being helpless is one thing, but having the power to destroy the enemies without choosing to do so is quite another. Jesus, the Lord of hosts, could have easily crushed His captors. But He had self-control. He had decided to submit to the Father when He prayed in the garden. He resisted the temptation of exercising His authority and humbly bowed to God’s will.
Have you ever followed the Lord “at a distance” the way Peter did? What made you do that?
How was Jesus’ trial grossly unfair and how did it show the hypocrisy of the religious leaders?Hide Answer
Both the council and the witnesses already had the intention to kill Jesus (cf 27:1; Lk 22:67, 68). Having a court session and calling upon witnesses was no more than a formality, if not an attempt to appear fair to the public. They also seemed to be zealous by putting Jesus to death with the charge of blasphemy. But they never pondered whether Jesus’ claim was indeed true.
How did these leaders show their bitter hatred towards Jesus?Hide Answer
Their violent behavior and mocking (67,68).
What can we learn from Jesus’ silence?
How do the suffering and humiliations Jesus endured serve as encouragement for you in your sufferings?
Have you ever been compelled by adverse situation to deny your faith?
Why did Peter weep bitterly? If you were Peter, how would you have felt?Hide Answer
He must have loved his master so much that he felt great remorse for his failure.