What Was Jesus's need in the Garden of Gethsemane?
"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding." Proverbs 3:5
Have you ever wondered what the disciples would have said to Jesus when He was going to the garden of Gethsemane to pray? They just finished a unique and amazing Passover meal that focused on a new concept of thought they had never heard before. "While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." (Matthew 26:27-29).
There was inspiration and hope as they completed the Passover with singing Psalms of David in praise and thanksgiving to God. As they left in the night, walking to the Garden of Gethsemane at the Mount of Olives, the atmosphere changed from a lively party to a serious concern as they listened to what Jesus shared, "This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:" 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.' But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee" (Matthew 26:31-32). Jesus is quoting an Old Testament prophet, Zechariah 13:7.
This scripture found in Zechariah doesn't leave an encouraging thought. It ends saying God will turn His hand against the little ones in all the land. The disciples would have been familiar with Zechariah's teachings. Going from eating an amazing Passover meal, singing Psalms of praise, to a stroll in the night towards a garden. It all sounds beautiful and romantic until Jesus prepares them for something else.
When Jesus quotes Zechariah, He stops the quote with "the flock will be scattered." In Zechariah's prophecy, the flock are told that after they scatter, they will go through the refiner's fire. That's not a very exciting way to end a party. Jesus simply states that after He has risen, He will go ahead of them into the Galilee. Can you see the questions of confusion the disciples must have had?
Risen from what? The idea of Jesus hanging on a cross was not a thought any of the disciples would have had. Probably the best idea of Jesus saying, "after He had risen" would be the idea that they are all going to the garden to sleep, which is exactly what they all did." It wouldn't have been unusual for Jesus to separate Himself to rest. They probably had no idea that their lives were soon going to be changed forever, and that they were the sheep that would be scattered and taken through the refiner's fire.
Go to the Galilee? That's a 3-4 days journey from Jerusalem. They were required to stay in Jerusalem during the Feast Days of the Lord (Deuteronomy 16:16). This would have been a pondering statement to the disciples. The custom of the day was for all men to stay in the Jerusalem area from Passover to Shavuot (Pentecost). When was Jesus planning on going to the Galilee? Is this what He meant when He said the sheep will scatter? The disciples would not have considered venturing to Galilee for at least fifty days, or after Shavuot.
In the Gospel of Luke, we find a clue to how to address this question:
"Jesus asked them, "When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?"
"Nothing," they answered.
He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: 'And he was numbered with the transgressors'; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment." (Luke 22:35-37)
This is an indication of an experience the disciples had earlier in the ministry of Jesus found in Matthew 10.
"These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: 'The kingdom of heaven has come near.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
"Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts—no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
"I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time, you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
"Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
"The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!
"So, do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father's care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So, don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows". (Matthew 10:5-31).
After the disciples came back from being sent out, they told Jesus of the miracles, signs, and wonders that had taken place. The message they shared of the good news of the Gospel was not about the cross and resurrection of Jesus, because they knew nothing of this coming event, but about what Jesus had told them to share: THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS AT HAND – HERE NOW!
Jesus is now approaching the Garden of Gethsemane in the dark of the night stating they will all scatter with the same assignment as they had before, but this time they are to take a purse, a bag, and a sword. When their mission is complete Jesus would see them again in the Galilee.
What they probably weren't considering is Jesus's statement He made a short time earlier as He was dispersing the Passover drink, "For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes" (Luke 22:8).
This is where the scene gets challenging:
"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." He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me."
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."
Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Couldn't you men keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked Peter. "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."
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."
When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So, he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
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. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!" (Matthew 26:36-45).
This is a scene we can all envision not just from what we've seen in media but from our own imagination too. It is a vision that sees us as one of the disciples trying to please Jesus, be a support for Jesus, yet in our humanity we all get tired, falling into the realm of our soul's emotions with our physical body dominating our response.
How often do we try to be a support system to others going through a life and death crisis, saying words we think will bring comfort like, "You need to just trust Jesus," "Trust the Lord with all your heart," "Let go and let God," "All things work together for your good and God's glory." These are all true statements, yet I find it challenging that this is what Jesus needed to hear from His disciples when He was going through a life/death sorrowful time, drinking the cup of separation of the Son of God and the Son of Man.
What were the disciples supposed to stay awake, watch, and pray about? They had no clue that Jesus was getting ready to unveil the greatest story ever to occur in history. Is this story only about Jesus dying on a cross as an innocent man, going through death, hell, and the grave to be risen three days later as Christ Jesus? What is the cup He couldn't drink of at Passover until He entered the Kingdom of God, yet He gave it to the disciples? What was the cup He was willing to drink in the Garden of Gethsemane that was filled with sorrow?
I would like to introduce several thought-provoking ideas I would hope you would consider:
- The cup that Jesus gave the disciples at the Passover was His life-giving blood to the flesh of humanity, which He will unite with His blood within these twelve at the Galilee.
- The cup He would drink in the garden was the cup of death as the first Adam partook of in the Garden of Eden. "For He had made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we be made the righteousness of God in him" (2 Corinthians 5:21).
- For anyone going through the refiner's fire where death of the flesh has a stronghold on a person's soul, the most religious thing people can say or do to support that person is tell them to trust Jesus. This is exactly what the enemy of God wants the church to say. The reason is because it shifts the resurrection power the believer has within them because of what Jesus did, to saying in a subtle way that Jesus needs to come do more work on the earth.
- Jesus told the disciples that they would be doing greater works than He did because He was going to the Father. Sin has been done away with, and we now have the anointing power of Christ Jesus within us that has the authority of the Kingdom of God to bring Heaven into the earth.
- Next time God calls you to "come along side" someone going through a major life/death event, don't expect them to climb out of the pit of "hell" by you telling them to just have faith and trust in Jesus. Instead, BE the manifested Christ that goes into "their hell" as part of the one body of Christ with the WORD decreeing the blessings of God upon them to carry them out from death.
- It is not the expectation of the one dealing with death that needs to have faith to believe, but the LOVE connection of the body of Christ that says, "You are bone of MY bone, and flesh of MY flesh." Let your faith BE the channel Life-giving blood for Christ to flow through setting that person free. Don't expect them to believe, but have faith in your BELIEF of the WORD in You to carry them out of death, hell, and the grave just as Jesus did for you.
- The Kingdom of God is at Hand NOW. This is the GOOD NEWS of the GOSPEL of Christ Jesus. Jesus said, "Behold, the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21). Paul stated, "The glory of God is Christ in you" (Col. 1:27). John stated, "As He is, so are we today in this world" (1 John 4:17).
- Paul shares a beautiful understanding to the Corinthians in chapter ten and eleven of the Passover meal (when we take today as believers in Christ of the bread and cup in communion setting). The coming of the Lord is a daily occurrence within each of us. The body of Christ is one body with many members, but all one body inclusive of ALL humanity -past, present, and future. The blood of Christ Jesus redeemed ALL humanity at the resurrection, removing ALL the separation of death, hell, and the grave that the first Adam brought into the world. Those before the cross have ALL been redeemed and justified because of what Jesus Christ finished. All born after the cross came into the world through His body and Life-giving blood, not the first Adam, but the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15).
- The message of the Good News is that the Kingdom of God is here NOW because of the finished work of Jesus Christ, and Him imparting His DNA of HIS SPIRIT found in His blood to continue doing the greater works on earth that He did as one being, can now be accomplished through millions unveiling all the blessings of Heaven into the earth, and filling the earth with the glory of God.
Next time you have a calling by the Father to come alongside someone going through a major life/death ordeal where their soul is filled with sorrow, don't tell them to trust Jesus, but BE the Christ LIFE they need. Ask God to help you with your doubt and fear so that you can rise up with the resurrection power of empathy, grace, compassion, and love to raise them from the dead.
DO YOU BELIEVE?