“And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and He saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray. 33 And He taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; 34 And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. 35 And He went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 And He said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt. 37 And He cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour? 38 Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak. 39 And again He went away, and prayed, and spake the same words. 40 And when He returned, He found them asleep again, (for their eyes were heavy,) neither wist they what to answer Him. 41 And He cometh the third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise up, let us go; lo, he that betrayeth Me is at hand.” Mark14:32-42 (KJV)
This is the place called, “Gethsemane” which means “Oil press”. It must have been the place where the harvested olives were pressed for the oil. There probably can be no better representation of the “Press” Jesus Himself must have been in at this moment in time. Of course, Jesus’s press was a spiritual one; affecting Him physically; which was pressing on Him to fulfill the will and work of God in His life, and that was His will and choice as well. He came to do His Father’s will.
Jesus tells the disciples to sit in a certain place while He goes to pray. He takes with Him Peter, James, and John to stay a little closer with Him and to pray while He goes to be alone with the Father. The weight, agony, passion weighs heavily upon Jesus as this is being done, and he commands the three with Him to “Watch”; that is “Be vigilant”, “Be watchful” (v. 34).
At least from the time of the beginning of His ministry at the age of thirty the heart and mind of Jesus was on the cross; dying there for the sins of mankind. As the only blood atonement for all our sin. That was, afterall, the plan of the Father. That was His plan too. Having that as His heart and mind; is the old idea we have heard the right one, or could it be that He thought He could possibly die before He reached the cross due to His physically weakened condition; due to His grief and sorrow – His agony?
Could He truly have been praying that this time of passion “Might pass from Him”? If indeed that had been His heart and mind for many years? If so it would not be that He was questioning the Father’s will, it was the agony of His coming separation from the Father that was causing Him so much pain and agony. He is the Son of God in flesh, never away from the presence of God, and to take away the sin of the world would require separtion to provide justification, cleansing, and in the end our glorification. His death for sin was the only means by which a holy God could save mankind from their sins, and still remain just and holy. Jesus knew that, and thus prayed, “…Not what I will, but what Thou wilt” (v. 36).
Remember Jesus had told Peter, James, and John to be vigilant, watchful and pray, but He finds them sleeping. In the time of His own personal crisis His disciples – the three closest to Him at that – seem unaware at what is happening to Jesus. It may also be that they are so troubled that they are overwhelmed, and they are emotionally exhausted. It was a very trying time for them, but especially for their Master. That was the time for them to pray, not to sleep.
He went back to pray and returned again only to find them sleeping again. It happened again a third time and this time He tells them, “Sleep on”. The time of His betrayal was at hand. There was nothing more that they could do. Judas was coming with the mob to take Him and lead Him to trial for His murder.
One thing we can learn from this event is that we need to be diligent, alert, and aware in our praying. Sadly, there are far too many Christians asleep at spiritual living; especially in prayer. At the darkest points of our lives we must be praying. Maybe we are not even aware of those “darkest points”. We need to be. When we see the dark points of friends and family; we need to pray diligently. Lord help us to pray as we ought.
Lord, When we are in Gethsemane [the press] help us to pray, “Thy will be done”.
-Tim A. Blankenship