And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
What an amazing glimpse at the struggle Jesus endured as He faced the final chapter of His life and ministry on earth. All of His teaching, all of His miracles, all of His actions, would be in vain without this final act in the unfolding drama of the redemption of fallen man. What was the source of the tension that Jesus experienced in His prayer in the garden of Gethsemane? Was He just recoiling at the physical suffering that goes along with crucifixion or was it more than that? Actually, others have died a martyr’s death without the intense trauma that Jesus experienced. What exactly transpired that dark night as Jesus yielded His will to His heavenly Father? It seems as if Jesus was given the full awareness of what He was about to endure by His sacrificial death on the cross. There was more than physical suffering involved, much more. Christ was about to endure the wrath of God, the judgement of God on the sins of mankind. The spotless lamb of God was about to experience the horrors of God’s justice as the sins of humanity were judged at the cross. The significance of this is infinite, far beyond our ability to comprehend. The years of sin against a holy God were about to fall upon Jesus at the cross, this was the struggle that He faced. He willingly agreed to endure the horrors of God’s wrath so that I could go free. This is the demonstration of the greatest of all loves, the love of God for sinners displayed in the death of His Son.
This glimpse of mercy and justice revealed at the cross is the greatest of all mysteries. Natural man thinks that mercy is just overlooking sin, that is not the kind of mercy God offers. His mercy is the fruit of the justice of God being upheld at the cross. It pleased the Father to bruise His Son (Isa. 53:10). Christ’s death was not in vain, it was essential. Without this display of God’s justice, His mercy would have not been available to us. My idea of Gethsemane has changed, it was more than the physical pain, as horrific as that was, that was facing Jesus at the cross, it was the satisfaction of God’s justice, something only His spotless Son could perform. This passion season, take time to remember that special night in the garden, decisions were made that effected the rest of our lives. Glory to God!!!