Probably one of the most difficult questions Christians are asked is: If God is sovereign, why bother to pray? Why pray, since it won’t change anything? This question gives a really good start on understanding it.
26And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 27And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 29Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” 30And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same. – Mark 14:26-31
- Jesus had a clear picture of what was going to happen to him.
- Before the Passover meal, they typically sang Psalms 113-114. Following the meal, they sang Psalms 115-118.
- The story of the Passover in Exodus involved sacrifice. The story of the New Covenant involves sacrifice and Jesus knew that sacrifice was required of the Messiah (note Psalm 118:26-27).
- Jesus responds to Peter’s boast with the painful revelation of his denial.
- The Romans gave the term ‘cock-crow’ to the watch from midnight to 3:00 am.
- Jesus quotes Zechariah 13:7.
- With all the disciples declaring their faithfulness no matter what happens, consider what happens next.
32And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. 34And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” 35And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” 37And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? 38Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. 40And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. 41And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.” – Mark 14:32-42
- The garden of Gethsemane was located on the lower slopes of the Mount of Olives, was planted with groves of olive trees and had numerous olive presses. John records that this was one of Jesus’ favorite spots (John 18:2).
- Jesus left eight of his disciples at the entrance, instructing them to remain there until he finished praying. Taking Peter, James and John, the three closest to him, he entered the deeper recesses of the garden.
- The disciples are not required to do anything courageous or heroic at this point, merely keep vigil while Jesus prays.
- Jesus chose to endure what was necessary that we might be saved.
- In the Old Testament, the cup often described the wrath of God, which was about to be poured out on the nations in judgment (e.g. Psalm 75:8; Isaiah 51:22; Isaiah 53:10).
- The sleepers for whom he would die have lost their opportunity to gain strength though prayer.
- Jesus wanted to avoid the cross if possible, but he chose voluntarily to go through it.
- Even when we want to obey and we can’t. But Jesus — even when he doesn’t want to obey — does obey.
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