Mark 14: 32-40 NLT
They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.” He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then he returned and found the disciples asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing but the body is weak.” Then Jesus left them again and prayed the same prayer as before.
I have seen many paintings of this scene, but it would be impossible for any artist to capture the extreme agony Jesus suffered at Gethsemane. These verses in Mark are filled with symbolism. Let us deconstruct this passage for today’s reflection.
Let’s first look at the condition of Jesus’ well being. He was deeply troubled and distressed. Troubled is defined as struck with terror or amazement or astounded (1). Distressed tells us that Jesus was in extreme anxiety, sorrow, and/or pain (2).
In His weakness, Jesus begged His Father to remove the cup of suffering, the cup of redemption. Jesus struggled with His calling in this garden. He wrestled with His very destiny and purpose. He was even tempted just like we are (Luke 4:13; 22:28). His choice to resist temptation and sacrifice Himself would alter the course of history and the destiny of every living being.
Hebrews 4:15 NLT, “This High Priest of ours (Jesus) understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.” (parentheses added)
The very name of the olive grove, Gethsemane, is revealing. Gethsemane is translated ‘oil press’ (3). An olive press extracts beads of oil by applying pressure and compressing the flesh of the olive. Like the olive press, Jesus allowed the Holy Spirit to apply pressure on Him and compress His weakness. How did Jesus allow His spirit to dominate His own wants and emotions when His soul and body were in such paralyzing fear, pain, and anguish?
1) By moving forward in God’s will
The word ‘went’ in Mark 14:32 is the same word as ‘come’ used in Matthew 6:10, ‘Thy kingdom come’. It can be interpreted as to come with the distinct purpose of appearing, to be established (4). Jesus led his disciples to the garden of Gethsemane directly after the Seder meal. He did not run away from his destiny. He did not encourage His men to run away from God’s will, either. Jesus firmly planted Himself at Gethsemane fully knowing that His betrayer would soon meet Him.
2) By guarding Himself from falling into temptation
This is what Jesus meant when He told the disciples to keep watch. Jesus was not keeping watch over the men who on their way there to arrest Him. He was keeping watch over His soul and the souls of the disciples. 'Watch' means to pay vigilant attention so as not to be suddenly overcome by calamity (5). Humility is key in watching or guarding the soul. Jesus humbly acknowledged that the spirit is willing, but the body was weak. That is why He asked for the cup of suffering or redemption to be removed from His life. He urged the disciples to guard themselves as well because humility is the crux of obtaining victory. Humility acknowledges and admits weakness to God so God is able to be strong in you.
3) By praying in the power of the Holy Spirit
Jesus threw Himself at His Father’s mercy three times, the number of perfection and unity. Each time Jesus prayed the more of His will aligned with the Father’s will (perfection) The Father’s will and Jesus’ will became one and the same (unity).
Romans 8:26 NLT, “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for, but the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words."
Jesus is our example
These are the three steps Jesus took to 'compress' or 'crush' His flesh. What was He teaching and demonstrating to us? Our flesh (our wants and wills) must die. Then the Holy Spirit can produce the pure oil of His anointing. It is the anointing that removes our burdens and destroy the yokes that hold us back from obeying God. This is how we are to crush our own will, be consumed with God’s will, and fulfill God’s destiny for us in this life.
Father, I can never thank You enough for all that Jesus did for me. His deep love and faithful commitment to You is a wonderful example for me to follow. I realize that my life is not my own. No matter what temptation comes my way, I pray that Your Holy Spirit will help me to continually move forward, guard me from falling into temptation, and help me to pray with accuracy and power. I give You permission to crush my flesh so that Your will and my will are one and the same. I want the pure oil of the anointing and power of the Holy Spirit to permeate my life. You may do with my life as You will. In Jesus Name, Amen.
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