“They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,’ he said to them. ‘Stay here and keep watch.’ Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’”—Mark 14:32–36 (NIV)
This passage is one of the most profound moments of Jesus’ time on earth, one of the clearest examples of what a believer’s prayer life should look like.
One of the Most Profound Moments in Jesus’ Time on Earth
Jesus prayed, “Take this cup from me.” What cup? The cup of God’s wrath. We love talking about the love of God but generally avoid talking about His wrath without realizing they go hand-in-hand. Because of His great love for us, Jesus endured the righteous wrath we deserve.
Jesus always knew this moment would come. So, why then was He in such anguish? Because He knew what He was about to endure.
Physically, He would be inhumanely tortured, beaten, and crucified. Mentally, He’d be mocked, insulted, and blasphemed against by the very people He was dying for! And spiritually, “He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross” (1 Peter 2:24 NLT). Jesus bore the weight of literally all the sins of humanity for all time upon Himself. Think about that. Every rape, murder, adultery, abuse, wicked thought, evil action, and all the worst, most depraved moments in history were put on Him to suffer and pay for, which caused a break in the eternal fellowship with the Father.
And yet, “Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2 NLT). Let that knowledge of the full suffering He endured wash over you the next time you wonder if God is done with you. Remember all Jesus endured on your behalf and be comforted in knowing you are secure in His love and grace!
A Clear Example of Prayer
In His request, “If possible,” we see the natural limits of Jesus being fully human during His time on earth. But then Jesus shows us the most important words we will ever utter, rest in, and live by as believers—the words that MUST define our prayer life: “Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
True discipleship is surrendering all things—goals, agendas, plans, comfort, convenience, safety, finances, relationships, life—to follow Him, for the sake of Christ and His kingdom. And here, Jesus shows us how that should permeate our prayer life.
In times of trouble, triumph, decision, confusion, doubt, conflict, and everything in between, the constant prayer of our hearts in everything must be that God’s will be done as we lay down our will. And know that His will is perfect, always for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28), never to harm us (Jeremiah 29:11), but to accomplish His good purposes (Psalm 138:8).
Wherever you are today in life, in ALL things pray as Jesus did—not my will, but Your will be done. And “keep watch,” for true strength, encouragement, comfort, and power are found in watching and praying.
Pause: How should Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane change us? How should it affect our everyday life?
Practice: For the next 21 days, I encourage/challenge you to pray over and over again in everything for God’s will and not yours. Ask fervently that His will be done in you and that His will be done through you, and mean it sincerely! Make this prayer a habitual outcry of your heart to the Lord.
Pray: Jesus, I am moved deeply to my core knowing the all-encompassing sorrow and suffering You endured on my behalf. And I am overcome by gratitude to You for loving me as You do, that You willing took upon the full weight of all sin in my life and all the world and history. Thank You, Jesus! Thank You for first loving me and calling me to Yourself. Thank You for satisfying the righteous wrath of God, for justifying, saving, and daily sanctifying me. I pray in all things now and forever for Your will, that it done in me and all around me, on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.