32 They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.” 33 He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. 34 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
35 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. 36 “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.”
37 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? 38 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
39 Then Jesus left them again and prayed the same prayer as before. 40 When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. And they didn’t know what to say.
41 When he returned to them the third time, he said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But no—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
As I read the above passage, tears began to flow softly as I imagined how Jesus must have felt in that moment as He faced death knowing He had done nothing to deserve such a humiliating death. The separation from His Father was a pain that crushed his soul with grief, which made the ordeal seemingly impossible to face. I also thought how I would feel if my close friends I looked to for support at such a critical time in my life could not provide the support I wanted from them. It was a moment of being alone, yet not alone.
“My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.” No one asked, “Why, Jesus? Why are you overwhelmed with grief? Why are you so sad?”
Did they not care what was going on with him? Surely they’d never seen him at this low point since being with him for three years. He’d always helped others, going to and fro caring for everyone that came to him for help—opening blind eyes, healing all manner of sicknesses and diseases, raising the dead, forgiving sins, working miracles and giving hope to the hopeless. Now he’s overwhelmed with grief. His simple request to Peter, James and John, “Stay here and keep watch with me.” How difficult could it be for those you consider your closest friends? From my own experiences I know it can be difficult when others don’t understand God’s plan for your life, or the depth of your grief. Sometimes what we expect of our friends is impossible even though what we ask seems to be a simple request. I’ve learned that surrendering totally to God’s will means releasing my family and friends from my expectations.
But when I read verse 35, I was immediately strengthened. Why? It reminded me of the power of prayer…crying out to the Father in my times of distress, when I’m overwhelmed by grief. Within Jesus’ prayer his relationship with the Father leaps off the page…”Abba, Father…everything is possible for you.” Although he makes his request known, he wants the will of his Father above his. This says to me that whatever I must face as a part of God’s plan for my life, regardless of how painful it is, God’s purpose for allowing me to go through it will supersede my understanding of that purpose. Therefore, I must trust Him to do the impossible and complete the work began.
After I’ve prayed, prayed and prayed again expressing my honest feelings to my Father, He sends the help I need to strengthen me to endure (Luke 22:43). When I’m strengthen and empowered to suffer the will of my Father, I can’t be upset with my family and friends. In essence, I can’t depend on them to give me what only the Father can, or to do what’s impossible for man but possible with God.
How often have you “cried out” asking God to take away your pain…to take away what’s unpleasant and uncomfortable? Yet, your prayer ends with, “Nevertheless, not my will but Yours be done.”