No Point Debating the Issue Further
Text: Matthew 26 : 31 - 56
Jesus did not want to debate the issue of denying Him further. He had cited the Scriptures. He had given His own word on the matter. His disciples on the other hand also had their say. They were very sure that they would not deny their beloved Teacher, even if that meant contradicting the Scriptures and Jesus. They felt that they knew themselves better than Jesus Himself. Only time would tell who was right!
IN THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE
Jesus and His disciples had now reached the quiet Garden of Gethsemane. He was quite familiar with this place. It must have been a favourite place for Jesus to retreat to in the evenings when He had completed His work for the day. Gethsemane was quiet enough to afford Him some respite from His daily work, so that He could spend time with His Father in meaningful communion and prayer.
“Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane,
and said to the disciples, ‘Sit here while I go and pray over there.’
And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee,
and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed.”
1. The Separation of the Apostolic Band
Though all His disciples had studied together, Jesus knew that the faith-level of the disciples were different. Though He noted the differences, He still loved all of them dearly. It was just a question of realism and wisdom when He divided the group into two. The first group was merely informed that He would be going a little further way from them. He did not ask much from them. He also did not share with them the depth of his feelings.
2. The Inner Circle of Three
Jesus then took Peter, James and John with Him. These three had become His “inner circle”. They were the ones who were privileged to witness His Transfiguration (Cf. Matthew 17:1-9). The three were a little stronger than the other disciples, though they too would end up denying Jesus as well.
To these three, Jesus allowed them to feel with Him the terrific spiritual struggle that had to be battled and overcome. If ever the powers of darkness attacked and threatened to overwhelm, this was their hour. Did they understand the sorrow and distress that Jesus felt as He braced Himself to enter into deep prayer?
A GLIMPSE OF THE HEART OF JESUS
The disciples had never seen Jesus under so much stress before. No, they did not see Jesus breaking down under the pressure – but certainly the pressure was almost palpable!
“Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly
sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.'”
Jesus would regularly go away and spend time with His Father alone. He had never brought any of His disciples on those occasions. What did Jesus do each time He sought out His Father’s Presence? Did He always feel this kind of stress after each day’s work?
The disciples did not know how to respond to what Jesus had just shared with them. How does one feel with or attempt to comfort a Person like Jesus?
“My soul is exceedingly sorrowful even to death”
1. The language of the soul
What did Jesus mean when He spoke about how His soul felt? What was this language that Jesus used to describe the depth of what He felt? The disciples must have felt awkward because they did not know how to respond to Jesus.
2. The language of sorrow
Sorrow was not something easily comprehended. How does one enter into the feelings of sorrow for another? How does one understand the kind of sorrow that Jesus felt? What was that sorrow? It is doubtful that the disciples understood fully what Jesus actually meant.
3. “Stay here and watch with Me”
Peter had said that he would never deny Jesus! So did all the other disciples. Now was a good opportunity to prove the worth of what they had declared with such bravado. They were entrusted with a special task. They were asked to “watch with Jesus”.
a) The concept of “watching”
When Jesus said “watch with Me”, of course He meant that the disciples would pray alongside with Him. It does not mean that they must necessarily pray with Him… just alongside Him.
b) A deeper understanding of watching with Jesus
There was another level of meaning behind the words of Jesus. The disciples would find out soon enough what He meant by “watching”. It called for a sense of special spiritual alertness to discern the following things:-
i) The Presence of God
ii) The Will of God as it was revealed
iii) The Will of God as it was confirmed
iv) The discovery of the commensurate strength that must be found
How well would the disciples fare as they watched and prayed with Jesus?