JESUS IN THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE
HIS SWEAT IS AS DROPS OF BLOOD
Jesus finishes praying with his faithful apostles. Then, ‘after singing praises, they go out to the Mount of Olives.’ (Mark 14:26) They head eastward to a garden called Gethsemane, where Jesus is accustomed to going.
Once they arrive at this pleasant spot among the olive trees, Jesus leaves eight of the apostles behind. Perhaps they remain near the garden’s entrance, for he tells them: “Sit down here while I go over there and pray.” Taking along three apostles
Going some distance away from them, Jesus ‘falls to the ground and begins praying.’ What is he praying to God about at this intense moment? He prays: “Father, all things are possible for you; remove this cup from me. Yet, not what I want, but what you want.” (Mark 14:35, 36) What does he mean? Is he backing away from his role as Ransomer? No!
Jesus has observed from heaven the extreme suffering of others put to death by the Romans. Now as a human, who has tender feelings and who can feel pain, Jesus is not looking forward to what awaits him. More important, though, he is in agony because he senses that his dying like a despicable criminal might bring reproach on his Father’s name. In a few hours, he will be hanged on a stake as if he were a blasphemer against God.
After praying at length, Jesus returns and finds the three apostles sleeping. He says to Peter: “Could you not so much as keep on the watch for one hour with me? Keep on the watch and pray continually, so that you may not enter into temptation.” Jesus realizes that the apostles too have been under stress, and it is late. He adds: “The spirit, of course, is eager, but the flesh is weak.”
Then Jesus goes off a second time and asks that God remove from him “this cup.” On returning, he once again finds the three apostles asleep, when they should have been praying that they not enter into temptation. When Jesus speaks to them, they do “not know what to answer him.” (Mark 14:40) A third time Jesus goes off, and he bends down on his knees to pray.
Jesus is deeply concerned about the reproach that his death as a criminal will bring on his Father’s name. Jehovah is hearing his Son’s prayers, though, and at one point God sends an angel to strengthen him. Even so, Jesus does not stop supplicating his Father, but he keeps “praying more earnestly.” The emotional stress is enormous. What a weight is on Jesus’ shoulders! His own eternal life and that of believing humans is at stake. In fact, his ‘sweat becomes as drops of blood falling to the ground.’
When Jesus returns the third time to his apostles, he again finds them sleeping. “At such a time as this,” he says, “you are sleeping and resting! Look! The hour has drawn near for the Son of man to be betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us go. Look! My betrayer has drawn near.”