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The Anguish of the Savior in the Garden of Gethsemane

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The events of Gethsemane are hard to put into words. Yes, they are recorded in the Gospel accounts. Yes, there is a way in which one can talk about them. But the anguish that Christ must have felt is difficult to comprehend. To step into Christ’s sandals as He poured out His heart to the Father and pleaded with His Father to let the cup pass from Him cannot be done.

To understand the experience of Christ can only go so far, for no one has ever truly known the Father and seen the Father except the One Who was at the Father’s side. God the Son, Jesus Christ, knew what it meant to take the full wrath of God. Some may say that, in the garden as Jesus prayed that the cup would pass from Him, He was referring to the cup of suffering. They may go on to say that Jesus was asking for the pain of the cross to be taken away.

This would have been a minor matter for Christ when placed up against bearing the wrath of the Almighty God, for there have been people down through the ages who have embraced martyrdom and death with joy and singing. Christ could not be seen as lesser than these, but He must be seen as greater.

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Christ did not fear the mockery of the people. Christ did not fear the cat of nine tails that would rip through His back. Christ did not fear the crown of thorns being imbedded in His head. Christ did not fear the excruciating pain of the cross as nails pierced His hands and His feet.

Rather, as the Savior was in the garden on the eve before Passover, He knew what it would mean to take upon Himself the sins of man and the wrath of God.

God is Gethsemane

The word Gethsemane means oil press. Gethsemane itself was an olive grove that was also used to prepare oil. It was located on the eastern side of Jerusalem, on its outskirts, and on the other side of the Kidron Valley. The garden would have had a wonderful view of the temple around 100 yards away. It was outside of the walls of Jerusalem, and therefore, it offered a sense of privacy.

Scripture says, “And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray” (Mark 14:32). As Jesus enters into Gethsemane, He does so at night. The events of the day as well as the heat of the day had most likely had been wearing the disciples down. It should come as no surprise that these men fell asleep when they should have been praying. Their flesh was weak.

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But Jesus had other plans. He brought them to the garden to pray. He knew His hour had finally come. Jesus told His disciples of deep sorrow even unto the point of death, He told them to pray, and then He left His disciples and traveled a little further into the garden.

Jesus went out to seek the face of His Father. Even for Jesus, there came a time when doing His Father’s will was hard. There will also be times of great difficulty and challenge in the life of the Christian as He submits himself to the Father’s will.

Jesus pours out His blood in Gethsemane

As Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, Luke records the following: “And being in agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:44). Throughout history, events have been recorded in which people have experienced extreme anguish that caused their sweat to be riddled with blood.

The body of Jesus would have literally been sorrowful unto death, as the Scriptures record. He would have been under such mental, emotional, and physical strain that it would have caused His capillary blood vessels to expand. This expanding would have then caused some of them to burst. The bursting of these vessels would have then mixed His blood with His sweat. The result would have been that His body would have been pouring out blood even prior to His crucifixion.

It is as though this was an event that looked forward to the cross. It was an event that marked the time of His departure. His blood was destined to be poured out for the sins of many. His blood cried out for the lost. Yes, he prayed that the cup would pass from Him, but oh, how He desired the Father’s will above all else. “Not My will,” Jesus cried, “but Thine be done.”

As Jesus went back to His disciples, Luke says the following: “And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow” (Luke 22:45). It was truly a sorrowful night. Darkness was seemingly over the face of the world, as it was when Jesus hung on the cross. God the Son poured out His blood in prayer to the Father.

But much like the blood of Abel that cried out to the Father from the ground, so did the blood of Jesus. “…Father, forgive them: for they know not what they do…” (Luke 23:34).

Application

As one looks at the events in Gethsemane, it is clear that Jesus did not side-step a life of suffering. No matter what trials you are facing today, you can know that Jesus has entered into this world of pain and suffering with you. Be moved by the love of the Savior, Who sweat drops of blood for You. Be touched by His nail-pierced hands. Look and see the blood-stained garden, and gaze upon the triumphantly-risen King of glory.

Final prayer

Father, I thank You for revealing the work of Christ to me. Help me to cherish all that Jesus has done. He is worthy of praise and honor and glory. Thank You for the ways in which He has suffered so that I could be forgiven of my sin. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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