Matthew 26:36-46; Jesus Struggles in Gethsemane

I approach this passage with awe. I am almost afraid to talk about it. I cannot read it without shedding tears.

In the garden Jesus battled with his own desires. In the end, he submitted to the will of God.

The Gethsemane narrative makes a significant contribution to a sound Christology by reminding us that Jesus was a genuine human being. As Nicene Christians we affirm both the divinity and the humanity of Jesus, but our reverence tends to cloud the distinction and we “divinize” the human nature. There are Christians who refuse to believe that Jesus could be anxious or fearful, “because he was God.” This docetic tendency is theologically dangerous because it deprives Jesus’ death of its saving significance. If Jesus was not fully human, the cross was an empty pantomime.

Douglas R. A. Hare, Matthew, Interpretation, a Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1993), 300.

Jesus could have rebelled against God’s plan. He could have fled to the hills. As he prayed, he knew the power of God. Wasn’t there another way this could be done? Did he really have to die the death of a despised criminal? It is chilling to imagine how things might have gone if Jesus had decided to bug out.

This is a replay of the temptations in the wilderness. This is a replay of the temptation in the garden of Eden.

The words for how Jesus felt are strong, strong words. He was truly miserable. It took three periods of intense prayer for him to come to grips with the will of God.

I guess I give up too easily. And I am too much like the disciples.

Peter, James, and John were not able to stay awake even though Jesus implored them to be watchful and to pray.

Jesus knows that it is one thing to talk about what you are going to do and quite another to actually do it. Peter, James, and John exemplify that truth. The sons of Zebedee wanted to be at Jesus’ right and left hand when he came into his kingdom. Here is their chance. But Jesus was crucified between two common criminals instead.

Jesus is resolved to please God, his Father. He goes to face his betrayer and those who will cause his death.

Jesus is our model, once again. From him we learn to stand the test by frequent, earnest prayer. In a very real sense, we learn that the battle of the wills is an important thing. Jesus’ blood and sacrifice are the results of his obedience.

Obedience is all God wants from us.

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