75 – Garden Prayer
Where: Garden of Gethsemane, Mount of Olives, Judea
Listen to audio
Judas was off on his “errand” when Jesus and the disciples left the house in the “upper city”. They left Jerusalem through the south gate. They walked northward, up the Kidron Valley, on the east side of the City of David. But they were secretly followed by a boy called Mark [John] at whose home the “Last Supper” had been held. Then they hiked up the Mount of Olives [today] toward Gethsemane [“the olive press”].
Jesus stopped, looked back at the walls of Jerusalem, and said to the disciples, ‘tonight your courage will fail you, and you will all desert me’, and then again walked toward Gethsemane. As Jesus walked he looked Simon Peter in the eye and continued, ‘God will allow Satan to shake you all, but Peter, when all come back, you must strengthen them. I have prayed for the Father to strengthen your faith’.
Peter, true to form, immediately vowed that he would face prison and even death, but would never desert Jesus (but he did not believe that there was much chance that the Messiah would allow such things to happen). And Jesus told him that before the rooster would crow announcing the approach of sunrise, he would have three times denied knowing Jesus.
Jesus and the disciples finally arrived at the Mount of Olives [today]. Among the olive trees [today], Jesus had, for the last few days, always spent the evening teaching his disciples, before going over the hill to Bethany to sleep.
Jesus talked and listened to the disciples, but as time went by Jesus felt the need to separate himself from them in order to pray. So Jesus asked the majority of the disciples to watch while he took Peter, James, and John with him to another area of the garden. He spoke to them for a little while and they could see how troubled he was. He was in serious distress. As they pressed him to tell them, Jesus finally told them that he was full of sorrow ‘to the core of my soul’, he said. He then asked them to wait for him while he went off by himself to pray. ‘Stay alert’, he warned.
Jesus went about a stones-throw further, dropped to his knees beside an ancient olive tree [today], and began to pray. And Mark secretly watched and listened. ‘Papa’, Jesus prayed, ‘is there no other way to convince the leaders to listen and to do your will?’ Jesus prayed. ‘Their destruction is sure if they won’t listen and change their ways. If they would only listen, you would be glorified and I would not have to die this way. I really do not want to do this’. Jesus’ heart was pounding and he was sweating profusely as a result of the stress.
Jesus looked back and saw the disciples were asleep. They were so tired. Jesus again prayed for another way to bring in the kingdom. But Jesus already knew the answer and concluded that in faith he would do the Father’s will. He again looked at the disciples and saw that they still slept.
Jesus then saw that there were torches leaving the city and coming across the Kidron valley. The leaders had obviously made their decision. But a soothing spirit came over Jesus and calmed him. Jesus would continue to follow God’s guidance based on faith. Jesus would be content to follow his Father’s plan. Jesus asked the Father to strengthen him so that what he did brought glory to the Father. And finally he prayed that his Father would watch over and protect the spiritual lives of the disciples during the trouble that was coming. Jesus then got up and returned to the disciples.
Jesus found the three disciples asleep. He looked at them with pity and love. They just did not understand. Gently he woke them with a mild rebuke. ‘Could you not watch and pray for an hour?’ Looking at Peter he said, ‘the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak’, and Peter understood some of what had been troubling Jesus.
‘Let’s join the others’, said Jesus. ‘The decision has been made. The one who will hand me over, is here’. And the four of them rejoined the other nine as the torches drew near.
No questions have been asked yet.