36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane. He said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him. He began to be sad and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sad. I feel close to death. Stay here. Keep watch with me.” 39 He went a little farther. Then he fell with his face to the ground. He prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering away from me. But let what you want be done, not what I want.” 40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray. Then you won’t fall into sin when you are tempted. The spirit is willing. But the body is weak.” 42 Jesus went away a second time. He prayed, “My Father, is it possible for this cup to be taken away? But if I must drink it, may what you want be done.” 43 Then he came back. Again he found them sleeping. They couldn’t keep their eyes open. 44 So he left them and went away once more. For the third time he prayed the same thing. 45 Then he returned to the disciples. He said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look! The hour is near. The Son of Man is about to be handed over to sinners. 46 Get up! Let us go! Here comes the one who is handing me over to them!”
Jesus time of suffering is imminent, his betrayer Judas waits in the garden. Jesus tells his friends his soul is crushed with grief to the point of death, and he asks them to pray vigilantly over him. He desperately needs them in his human agony. But they fall asleep after their meal and the lateness of the night. Three times Jesus returns to them, I imagine his disappointment and hurt. I imagine the disciples’ shame and regret. Despite their failings, and ours, Jesus knows that “this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it” v.42. Humanity could not be saved from the cup of suffering if Jesus did not drink from it that weekend. He went through with His promise and fulfilled His destiny. And I am so grateful and so undeserving.
This passage is so poignant, it speaks to the part of me that knows I would have slept too. That I have slept through times when I could have been praying for someone in distress. That Jesus has been in the background of my days.
Heavenly Father please help me to watch and pray, to help ease the cup of suffering for my brothers and sisters. Amen
Written by Dimity Milne