The account of Christ in the garden of Gethsemane is quite telling of His humanity. Luke 22:43 tells us that while in the garden, Christ was in agony. We see the severity of his agony in the third part of this verse, “…and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Sweating blood is a very rare medical phenomenon called Hemotohidrosis caused by severe mental stress. It’s notable that Luke, the writer of this gospel account, was a physician. It was not mentioned in the other gospel accounts.
His extreme anxiety was knowing He was about to take upon Himself the sin of all mankind, suffering our shame and punishment. Isaiah 53:6b prophesies, “And the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” And Paul stated, “God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). We often say “Oh, Joe has the weight of the world on his shoulders.” But only Jesus Christ had the weight of the world, the weight of the sin of mankind, on His shoulders. What’s more, He would be separated from the Father for six hours. The thought of going to the cross with our sin upon Him, and being separated from God, caused unimaginable anxiety.
Interestingly, the word Gethsemane means olive press. Jesus was being pressed, crushed. Isaiah 53:10 says “And it pleased the Lord to crush Him…” As mothers and fathers we cannot fathom being pleased to crush our children. But God’s plan was perfect, as Jesus agonized in the garden on that lonely night.
Matthew and Mark use the word sorrow rather than agony, “Then He said to them, My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death, stay here and watch.” Isaiah prophesied of this sorrow in Isaiah 53:3, “He is…A Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief…” The next verse goes on to say, “He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” In other words, He was a man of sorrows because He bore ours in the garden and on the cross.
Christ battled the deep distress and fear he was under through prayer. He prayed, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me, nevertheless, not My will but Yours be done.” After pleading that God would take this terrible cup of impending suffering away, He was willing to pray, “Not mine, but Your will be done.” This submission to God’s will revealed His humility, trust in the Father, and His love for us.
The Hebrew writer tells us Jesus, “…who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the Father,” (12:2b). The joy that was set before Him wasn’t the joy of finally being out of physical pain and suffering, it was the joy of knowing that the redemption of mankind would finally be accomplished.
Charles Spurgeon’s said,” It was a terrible battle that was waged in Gethsemane—we shall never be able to pronounce that word without thinking of our Lord’s grief and agony—but it was a battle that He won, a conflict that ended in complete victory for Him!” What was the victory? His surrender, His finished work on the cross and His subsequent resurrection where He accomplished victory over sin death. “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55).
God wants us to watch and pray, to pray without ceasing, to battle in prayer. Trials and sorrows will come. And then they will come again. We can run to others, we can run to our beds and pull the covers over our heads, or we can run to the Lord and find strength, hope, and victory. It’s really a simple message. Joseph Scriven (1820-1886) understood the simplicity of prayer when he wrote the simple, beloved hymn, What a Friend We Have in Jesus.
“What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer. Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer. Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge; take it to the Lord in prayer. Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer! In his arms he’ll take and shield thee; thou wilt find a solace there.”