The Gospel of Mark, the shortest of the four, nonetheless provides a very complete account of Christ’s passion.
14 32They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”
It becomes immediately clear that the ordeal ahead is both all too well known and all too real. This is no “just for show” event.
35Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
The mystery of the incarnation is that Jesus Christ is simultaneously all human and all God. But this mystery leaves open how these two natures interacted with one another. These opening verses in Gethsemane appear to show us a very human response to what was bearing down upon Him, yet within the context of an inexorable divine purpose.
37Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? 38Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
How often have we confirmed the truth of this statement! Our spirits thrill to the truth of God’s Word, and we decide to make this big change or accomplish that great goal, only to have this feeble anchor of flesh sink them. Our tongue speaks a harsh word or our chasing after thrills depletes our strength and deadens our souls.
God in His infinite wisdom has chosen to encase our eternal souls for a time within these fleshly bodies. We simply don’t know why. We only know that He wouldn’t have done it without a good reason. We also know that His own Son has joined us in this experience.
We would do well when we look upon one another, and upon ourselves, to think first of the beloved soul that God has entrusted within. Doing so would go far to heal many of the evils that mar our interactions.
39Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.
41Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
These are not the words of a man meekly resigned to his fate. They are fighting words. They are the words of a Savior who has faced down fear, faced down doubt, and is ready to ride into battle. But there will be no great army to back Him up. He will go into this conflict abandoned, naked and defiled. How then dare He speak thus? “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you, not what I will, but what you will.”