Wednesday, January 27, 2010

“Sit here while I PRAY”


Mark 14:32-33 They came to an area called Gethsemane. Jesus told his disciples, "Sit here while I pray." (33) He took Peter, James, and John with him. He plunged into a sinkhole of dreadful agony.


In preparation for the inevitable Cross, Jesus retreats to His usual place of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. The name Gethsemane is a forewarning in itself. Synonymous with "tribulation," it means "press," connoting the stomping of the grape to squeeze out the blood of the vine.

Jesus expects Gethsemane to be a time of final communion with His Father in preparation for the Cross. Even though He has predicted that all the disciples will deny Him, He takes His inner circle of Peter, James, and John with Him to the place of prayer, hoping that their denial will be delayed until the very last moment. In other words, Jesus counts upon communion with God and fellowship with friends to sustain Him until the moment of betrayal. He does not expect His friends to continue with Him beyond that point, but His Father is different. Surely He will stay beside Him through an ordeal which no man had ever suffered before, and no one will ever suffer again.

Our experiences do not permit us to probe the depths of Jesus' emotions in the Garden of Gethsemane. His foreknowledge of suffering and His sensitivity of spirit take His anguish deeper than we have ever known. Even then, Jesus is not prepared for the shock of reality which overcomes Him in the Garden. Mark says, "He began to be troubled and deeply distressed" (Mark 14:33).

The English translation is not strong enough to carry the full impact of His feelings. A more literal translation is, "He began to be terrified and disoriented." Sheer terror strikes at His soul as He faces for the first time the reality of unbridled evil.

Robinson Crusoe found himself on a desert island. When darkness fell, he retreated to the beach, built a fire, and huddled close to it. The range of security extended only to the outer edge of his campfire's light. Beyond that, as he peered into the darkness toward the jungle, icy fingers of terror caused his soul to shudder, knowing that if he stepped beyond the flickering light of his campfire, his terror would be compounded by the distress of being out of his realm and not knowing how to cope with the situation.

In effect, Jesus stepped beyond the circle of light cast by God's presence into pitch blackness in the jungle of evil. Before this moment, He had theoretically accepted the responsibility for bearing the sins of the whole world. Now, terror tells Him what it really means. Also, before this moment, Jesus has enjoyed unbroken fellowship with His Father. Now, He realizes that He must die alone, His friends will deny Him, and His Father will have to leave Him. The combined weight of sin and loneliness is almost more than He can stand, so to His disciples He confesses, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death" (Mark 14:34).

Terror, disorientation, and depression are now so severe that death is the preferable alternative. So...He prays, continually.

The Son of God experienced terror, and distress so that we could walk THROUGH the dark, tough, fearful times knowing we could overcome just as He did:

Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin.


Was Jesus trying to get out of his task? Jesus expressed his true feelings, but he did not deny or rebel against God's will. He reaffirmed his desire to do what God wanted. Jesus' prayer highlights the terrible suffering he had to endure-an agony so much more magnified because he had to take on the sins of the whole world. This "cup" was the agony of alienation from God, his Father, at the cross (Hebrews 5:7-9). The sinless Son of God took on our sins and was separated for a while from God so that we could be eternally saved.

While praying, Jesus was aware of what doing the Father's will would cost him. He understood the suffering he was about to encounter, and he did not want to have to endure the horrible experience. But Jesus prayed, "Yet I want your will to be done, not mine." Anything worth having costs something. What does your commitment to God cost you? We must be willing to pay any price to gain what is priceless-eternal life.

I am so convicted today when I consider my prayer life, compared to Jesus'. Jesus, the Son of God, my example prayed in agony as He faced a circumstance beyond what I can even fathom. Yet, He made it through it because of His dependence upon His Father through prayer. If Jesus needed to pray, how much more do I. I heed Jesus' call to me today, "Watch and pray!"


"Lord, forgive me for the times that I think I am too busy to pray, or I have too much MINISTRY to accomplish to pray. When faced with an situation that was full of terror and agony, Jesus PRAYED. He didn't wash His disciples feet, He didn't raise the dead, heal the sick, teach to multitudes, tell parables to those who were trying to find the truth about God, He didn't rest...He PRAYED. Holy Spirit, thank You for convicting me with this truth today. I make a commitment today to PRAY BEFORE, after, and during any ministry I endeavor. It is the most important part of any ministry that you have called me to. Thank You Jesus for such a great example. In Jesus' name, amen!"