Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." Matthew 26:36
We can learn much from Jesus and His last hours before His crucifixion. In the last week of Jesus’ life on earth, He had just finished His last Passover, and had instructed His disciples to remember Him by breaking bread together, instituting the Lord’s Supper. Most of us know how the story continues: His disciples went with Him to Gethsemane, and Jesus told them to wait while He went away to pray. During this time, the disciples fall asleep, and Jesus comes and instructs them to watch and pray, so that they will not enter into temptation. But, you guessed it, they fall asleep again. It is here in the Garden of Gethsemane that Jesus prays this specific prayer three times:
"My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will." Matt. 26:39
I’ve heard some commentaries about the Garden of Gethsemane and how it would have been possible for Jesus to get away from His pursuers at this point. But He didn’t. He knew that God would not take this cup away from Him. He was in conflict, so much so, that His sweat actually turned to blood. And what did He do? He prayed.
We can learn from Him how to pray when we face the tempter’s power, when we are in conflict, and in grief. Jesus faced all of this that night, and He turned to His Father in prayer. I’ve addressed prayer before in this blog – it is our great privilege to go before our Heavenly Father in prayer – to humbly bow before Him and seek His will – notice that’s what Jesus did. “Not as I will, but as you will.” Sometimes that’s a very difficult prayer to pray. God’s will is not always our will. But God uses our time in prayer and in studying His Word to bend our hearts to His will.
Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving. Col. 4:2
The story goes on: Jesus was betrayed by Judas, arrested, taken before Caiaphas, beaten, questioned by Pilate, and mocked. He was arraigned for a crime He didn’t commit – He took our sin as His own. He suffered for us.
Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. Hebrews 5:8
Because of His suffering for us, we can learn from Him. We learn to bear the cross. Many of us suffer, in fact, it’s the only thing guaranteed in our lives. Paul encourages us:
For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. II Corinthians 1:5
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18
For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. II Timothy 1:12
We will suffer, no question about it – but our suffering is a time of being made more like Jesus. When we learn to bear the cross, we learn to obey, to be humble, to be selfless, and to trust in the One who healed our wounds through His death. Peter exhorts us that we have been called for this purpose!
For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. I Peter 2:21-24
Our story doesn’t end with Jesus betrayal and arraignment. They hung Him on the cross, and He suffered physical pain and agony for many hours before giving up His spirit. He died.
Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. Then the Jews, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first man and of the other who was crucified with Him; but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. John 19:30-34
We learn from Jesus Christ to die. Jesus physically died. And He calls us to die to our fleshly desires, and to live for Him.
Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. Romans 7:4
Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Gal. 5:24
So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh--for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. Romans 8:12-14
For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Col. 3:3
Who is He on yonder tree who dies in grief and agony? 'Tis the Lord, o wondrous story! But it's not the end of the story. There's one more very important verse in this hymn....
Who is He in Yonder Stall?
Words by Benjamin Hanby
Who is He in yonder stall
At whose feet the shepherds fall?
Who is He in deep distress,
Fasting in the wilderness?
’Tis the Lord! O wondrous story!
’Tis the Lord! the King of glory!
At His feet we humbly fall,
Crown Him! crown Him, Lord of all!
Who is He the people bless
For His words of gentleness?
Who is He to whom they bring
All the sick and sorrowing?
Who is He that stands and weeps
At the grave where Lazarus sleeps?
Who is He the gathering throng
Greet with loud triumphant song?
Lo! at midnight, who is He
Prays in dark Gethsemane?
Who is He on yonder tree
Dies in grief and agony?
Who is He that from the grave
Comes to heal and help and save?
Who is He that from His throne
Rules through all the world alone?