By Colleen Donahue

After sharing the Passover Feast in Jerusalem with his disciples and telling them many last minute things, Jesus "went as usual to the Mount of Olives." His disciples followed after him. He knew the agony that was only hours away and desperately wanted time with His Father.

His disciples would all scatter within hours but he was glad to have their company a short while longer. Jesus immediately asked them to "stay here and pray" upon reaching the garden.

Gethsemane was the first step to freeing Christ's Spirit to return to God. We have said many times that Jesus was "born to die". What makes Jesus human is that his spirit (the part of man that communicates with God) is wrapped in a soul (his mind, will and emotions) and his soul has been put into a body.

In the garden, Jesus' soul was opened to accept and embrace God's will. His mind already knew the plan but now that it was coming close it recoiled at the thought of such a gruesome death. His emotions could already feel the excruciating pain. It says he felt "sorrowful unto death" and he "sweat great drops of blood." His will now asked -- "if it is possible, is there any other way?"

The soul is part of man's weak flesh that Jesus spoke of when he said, "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." He too as a human had this weak flesh. God knows this weakness and sends help when we need it. For Jesus, it was an angel that strengthened him to face what he actually knew was God's will.

Jesus settled things at Gethsemane. He walked through all that was to come in his mind and emotions so that when he physically had to face them he was ready.

"Our Gethsemane" is where our minds face the facts about something. Our emotions settled down to a calm that enables our will to choose what God wants rather than what we want.

My cousin Margie was only 55 years old at her death. She had almost finished five years of being cancer free when it suddenly reappeared. Being a nurse didn't help in that she knew the likelihood of how things would take their course. After some fear and panic, I watched Margie face her situation "head on". She did not resign herself to die but rather to be a part of God's big plan whatever that meant for her. She faced her last days with courage and bravery, working to help others (in her job) until the very end. She often used this phrase -- "let go and let God". Her soul became free in her Gethsemane and she was saying to God in her own way.......


Gethsemane -- A Place of Agony

Physical torture did not begin until after Jesus was arrested but great emotional agony began here at the Garden of Gethsemane. This Garden was a secluded place near Jerusalem on the western slope of the Mount of Olives. The name means "oil press". It was here that olives would be crushed so that men could have the valuable oil. It was a fitting place for the Son of God who was about to be crushed with the grief and burden of sin so that the oil of healing and forgiveness could flow for the world's wounds.

Day 1- Imagine that someone had already written down all the details of your death so that you could read about it in advance. Would you want to know it? Well, Jesus did know it. He knew clearly his mission for men that involved a terrible death. He predicted and told others about his own sufferings. From these verses list what was going to happen.
Mark 8:31 / Luke 12:50 / Luke 22:37

Day 2- Jesus knew the scriptures. He had already read the end of the story. But now, as he got closer to the actual time, it came on him like a crushing grief. What was crushing Jesus?
Isaiah 53: 4-5

Day 3- Earlier in Christ's ministry Jesus had soundly defeated Satan in the wilderness. Scripture says that Satan then left Jesus until there would be another "opportune time". (Luke 4:13)
Gethsemane was this opportune time. Satan now displayed before the Savior's eyes the awful visions of the sins of the world. From the time of Adam until the end of the world every sin -- great and small -- was falling onto the Lord's shoulders.
Genesis 6:5 / Psalm 53:3 / Isaiah 53:6 / Isaiah 64:6

All we have to do is let our minds dwell on the worst atrocities we can think of and we get a tiny sense of what Jesus was beginning to face. The holier the man the greater his abhorrence to evil.

Jesus saw the wounds inflicted on him by the church -- his own people. He saw their ingratitude, heresies, schisms, pride and disobedience. Wayward sheep always break a shepherd's heart and he grieved at the apostates and pretend reformers that deceive men by their appearance of holiness.

He saw the wounds by those who would refuse his love completely and go their own way. He felt every act of rebellion and independence against His Father's will.

He felt deeply the betrayal of Judas who had been a close associate for three years. The wounds of a friend are the hardest to bear.

Here we see the sinless Christ beginning to be smothered by murder, rape, pride, torture, lies, ingratitude, stealing, contempt, selfishness and cruelties of every sort.

Picture Jesus kneeling in his white robe when suddenly big blobs of manure begin to drop on him from all sides. It gives us a small sense of the filth and shame he was starting to feel.

Day 4- This grief actually came close to killing him in the garden.
Matthew 26:38 (also Mark 14:34) / Luke 22:44

Day 5- By one act of treason, (the betrayal by Judas) all the sins of the world were brought together into one man -- the sinless Christ.
Isaiah 53:8-9 / 2 Corinthians 5:21 / 1 Peter 2:22-24

Day 6- Often Judas has more followers than Christ. There are so many who call themselves Christian today but who disregard him, sell him, and grieve him by their words. Thus they crucify him again. Our sins may not be as glaring as Judas's sin but we betray the same master.
1 John 1:6,8

What is true for all men no matter how good they appear?
Romans 3:23

We ALL need a Savior.

Gethsemane -- A Place of Prayer and Watching

Day 7- Upon entering the garden Jesus planned to be alone with his Father in prayer. What did he tell his disciples to do?
Luke 22:39-40

Day 8- Notice he is not asking them to pray for him but for themselves. Jesus knew all that they would face this night because of him and that only in prayer and watchfulness could any of them stand their ground. It's the same for us today.
Ephesians 6:13 / 2 Peter 3:17

Day 9- Matthew and Mark record that Jesus took his three closest disciples, Peter, James and John, further into the garden with him. While Jesus wanted companionship with his Father he also wanted the companionship of those who loved him on earth. What did he tell them to do?
Matthew 26:37-38 / (Also: Mark 14:33-34)

This idea of "keeping watch" was one Jesus had brought up before. It applies as much to us today as to his disciples then.

Day 10- Why are we called to "keep watch"?
Matthew 25:13 / Mark 13:32-33 / Revelations 3:11

Day 11- Write out the phrases in these verses that describe what being watchful means.
Acts 20:31a / 1 Corinthians 16:13 / Colossians 4:2 / 1 Thessalonians 5:6 / Revelations 16:15

Day 12- Why is watchfulness and prayer a necessity against sin and temptation?
Matthew 26:41 / 1 Corinthians 10:12 / 1 Peter 5:8

Day 13- Sadly the disciples could not keep watch either for Jesus or themselves. Later in the night they would ALL abandon him physically but here in the garden they abandoned their Lord emotionally.
Matthew 26:40-41, 43,45 - (Also: Mark 14: 37-38, 40-41)

Day 14- The disciples did not mean to abandon the Lord. They did not want to abandon him. But they were facing their own grief as Luke records.
Luke 22:45

Was Jesus sympathetic to them? Did he encourage them to sleep peacefully?
Luke 22:46

NO! There are times when no matter how we feel we must keep alert because danger is near. You can feel the urgency in the Lord's voice as he says, "get up and pray!"

Day 15- It says that Jesus went about a stone's throw from the disciples to be alone with his Father in prayer but because he cried out in agony he could be heard by others. The prayer is recorded in three of the four gospels. Matthew records the Lord's first prayer:
Matthew 26:39

How does it differ from the second time he went away to pray?
Matthew 26:42

Finally it says he went away a third time and prayed the same thing.
Matthew 26:44

"Thy will be done". It's the prayer that never fails and Jesus in repeating it had fixed it in his soul and spirit. He wanted his Father's will to be done more than his own.

Day 16- Mark adds in his gospel an important word. How does Jesus address his Father?
Mark 14:36

"Abba" is a word used by a young child to his father -- it's an everyday family word and not usually one to address God. Jesus spoke in a childlike intimate way with his father. Although he did not want to die, he took by faith what he didn't see or understand at the moment. If we can call God "Father" everything becomes bearable.

Day 17- The gospel of Luke adds another detail to the time of prayer.
Luke 22:43

This is not the first time an angel had been sent to tend to the Lord. After Christ had been through the time of temptation in the wilderness, angels had been sent to strengthen him.
Matthew 4:11

The difference now is that the coming to minister and strengthen is happening before the torture and death. God knows when we need help and will provide it all at the right moments.

Day 18- In reading the simple prayer of Jesus in the garden do not miss the fact that this was a time of choosing. Read again the last phrase from each of these verses.
Matthew 26:39, 42 -- (Also: Mark 14:36 & Luke 22:42)

Jesus set his mind, will and emotions (i.e. his soul) to say "yes" to God. It made everything that would follow possible.

Day 19- AFTER this time of prayer and strengthening we notice a new courage and fresh resolve in the Lord's voice and work. Can you see it in these verses?
Matthew 26:46 / Mark 14:41-42 / Luke 22:46

Rise, let us go, enough, get up and pray -- all words spoken by a determined man as he walks straight towards his betrayer.

Gethsemane -- A Place of Betrayal, Arrest and Trust

Day 20- Jesus and his disciples were already on their way to meet the arresting crowd led by Judas when they appeared. What was the arranged sign of betrayal?
Matthew 26:48 -- (Also: Mark 14:44)

Matthew and Luke record Christ's last words to Judas -- a statement and a question.
Matthew 26:50 / Luke 22:48

Day 21- Who made up the crowd that was with Judas?
Matthew 26:47 -- (Also: Mark 14:43)

While Matthew and Mark record an armed crowd sent from the Jewish leadership, Luke and John make it clear that some of these leaders were in that crowd. No doubt they would make sure everything was done according to plan.
Luke 22:52 / John 18:3

Day 22- Jesus was now strengthened and ready for all that was going to happen to him. He looked his accusers straight in the face and spoke with courage.
John 18: 4-8a

Christ's death was his own choice. There would have been many ways to avoid capture and keep out of harm's way but Jesus had made his final decision, "Thy will be done." He could say defiantly, "Friend do what you came for."

Day 23- His disciples were another matter. They were not meant to die with him and Jesus now made a plea for their safety. As always He was thinking of others first.
John 18: 8-9

Day 24- All of a sudden in one burst of protective energy the disciples asked Jesus for their orders.
Luke 22:49

(Remember at the last supper it was discovered that they had at least two swords among them).

But before Jesus could even answer the impetuous Peter had already drawn his sword. No doubt he meant to send a death blow to someone but missed.
John 18:10

(It's interesting that Matthew, Mark and Luke simply record that "one of them" did it. Only John clearly states that it was Peter and the name of the man who was hurt).

Day 25- While I am secretly glad someone was willing to take action on the Lord's behalf, the Lord quickly and decisively dealt with this display of violence. He did so first to his disciples.
Matthew 26:52-54 / Luke 22:51a / John 18:11

Day 26 - In a few moments dealing with this violent incident Jesus left his disciples and us with three important principles. The first principle is that retaliation is never to be the way to deal with trouble.

Retaliation had been forbidden within the Jewish culture from the beginning.
Leviticus 19:18 / Proverbs 24:29

Jesus had clearly taught that retaliation was wrong.
Matthew 5:39

If anyone is to retaliate who should do it?
Proverbs 20:22

If we aren't to retaliate what should we do?
Romans 12:17 / 1 Thessalonians 5:15 / 1 Peter 3:9

Day 27- The second principle is that we don't need to deliver ourselves.
Matthew 26:53 / 2 Corinthians 1:10

Notice in 2 Corinthians 1:10 the three tenses in this verse:
A- He had delivered us -- God has a track record of deliverance
B- He will deliver us -- God will be there for us in the future
C-He will continue to deliver us -- God will be here for us today!

Day 28- The third principle is that while God does not cause evil, even those events and situations that appear evil will be used by God for good. Jesus was destined from before the beginning of time to be the means of salvation for any man in any generation who would choose to take it.
2 Timothy 1:9

Hence for the eternal plan to be put into place Christ's arrest and death would be allowed to happen just as the prophets had said.
Matthew 26:53-56

Day 29- Jesus now turns to address the crowd. Matthew, Mark and Luke all record Christ saying the same thing but Luke adds an important bit of information at the end of verse 53.
Luke 22: 52-53

Jesus is telling us in advance -- "yes, this will be a time when evil appears to reign but it is only for an 'hour'." He knows that Resurrection is coming. It's a reminder to us when all seems black that God is still in control and He'll have the last word. Jesus trusts his Father that all will go according to plan and so must we.

One Final Miracle

Day 30 - Only Luke -- a medical doctor -- records that Jesus touched the ear of Malchus, the high priest's servant whose ear was cut off by Peter.
Luke 22:51

Even though it was dark there had to have been many in the crowd that were spectators to what was surely a bloody mess. A man's ear had been completely severed. But our Lord who had healed throughout his ministry quietly picked up the ear and put it back in place without a word. Surely at least Malchus' heart was moved? But the power of the mob and evil was too strong by this time to allow for even one or two men in the crowd to speak up for Jesus.

Day 31- For the disciples this was one final example to witness Jesus practicing what he had preached.
Matthew 5:44-45 / Luke 6:27 / 1 Thessalonians 5:15

They did not yet have the power within them to do this. Jesus knew this and did it on behalf of them all. To return good for evil was to be the way of life for a Christian even in the face of death.

Day 31- And so the Lord's prediction at the last supper came to pass.
Matthew 26:31, 56b

Mark records a young man (maybe John?) tried to follow along with Jesus but soon he fled too.
Mark 14:50-52

And so the arrested Savior went on alone with the crowd.

SUMMARY - What are we to learn from Gethsemane?

I suggest there are three things we should take from this event.

1. Like the disciples we are called to WATCH . Watch for what?

A. For the Lord who is coming back - (Matthew 24:42 / Matthew 25:13)

B. For the word of satan that wants to steal our joy, our faith, and our innocence - (Matthew 24:43 / Revelations 3:11)

C. For the enemy to do harm to those we love. If we are watchful we'll also be prayerful - (Ephesians 6:18)

D. For the historical events -- to be able to interpret them in the light of God's word (Matthew 24: 36-39)

E. For the souls of those we are responsible for (Deuteronomy 4:9)

F. For our own heart -- to guard it from evil and strengthen what is good. (Proverbs 4:23 / Matthew 24:4 / Matthew 26:41)

2. Like the disciples we are called to PRAY. Pray for what?

Here in Gethsemane and earlier when Jesus taught them "the Lord's prayer" we are told to pray that we will not fall into temptation. This will especially be the case when everything seems to be going right and we are off our guard. (1 Corinthians 10:12)

3. Finally we must never take things into our own hands and make them happen by the "strength of our right arm".

Instead we are taught to pray for "God's kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven." We are called to love our enemies, and do good to those who hate us.

Do we have the power for these three things today? Yes, if we are Christians. We have been given the Holy Spirit of Jesus to reside in us and through His power we can do all that is needed.

Next Study: MPGC#14

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