40 When He arrived at the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, 42 saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” 43 Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground. 45 When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, 46 and said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
This is another sacred moment and I feel a bit uncomfortable as if I am eavesdropping. The other gospels say that Jesus separated with Peter, James, and John from the other disciples and went a bit further into the Garden. He encourages them to pray and then leaves them and goes further. They overhear His prayers, but full stomachs and the wine from the meal quickly lull them to sleep.
The Lord is very human here. You can see that. This is a moment of agony for a Soul living under the shadow of tragedy and pain. He is being asked to face death and give up His life, and the humanness within Him cries out at the possibility of facing agony and mortality.
We are a damned people. We are damned to live a life of futility; a life where we are born into a world, we grow, we gain experience, we feel joy, we feel happiness, we gain wisdom, then we see time ravaging our bodies, until our bodies fail us and all that we have accomplished and all that we have done is forgotten as our bodies turn into dust and our tombstones wear away and the people who knew us likewise perish and are forgotten. And, mind you, that is the best case scenario. We could just as easily be cut down in the prime of our youth by disease, accidents, homicide, ‘acts of God’, or any other cause that would prematurely end our existence.
Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.
It is a bleak, grim reality that most of us do our best to avoid thinking about. It is a bleak, grim reality that most of us do our best to postpone for as long as possible. That’s human. We want to live.
This was our curse.
And it is a curse that this Messiah decided to share with us. It was a curse He was determined to break once and for all.
But here, in private, in a sacred moment of silence, Jesus of Nazareth cries out imploring His Father to find another way. To find some other method of freeing us from death and sin. To find some other way to bring mankind back into life.
Even as He asks, He knows there is no other way. So He submits to the will of God.
He returns to the disciples and wakes them. The other gospels say that He repeated this process two more times. Each time asking His friends to stay awake with Him. Each time, His friends failed Him.
He was alone.
So God sent an angel to encourage Him and strengthen Him. He would need all of His strength for what lay ahead.
As He returns to the disciples for the last time, lights can be seen approaching their location, and the sound of men’s voices with the clanking of armor breaks the silence of this sacred moment. He wakes them one final time.
Death was here.