JESUS' GETHSEMANE PRAYER
Key Verse: 22:42
"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will,
but yours be done."
1. Why did Jesus usually go to the Mount of Olives? What can we learn
from him? What instructions did he give his disciples? Why? What was
Jesus' attitude in prayer?
2. What was his prayer topic? What did he mean by "this cup"? What was
God's will? (Lk 9:22) Why and how did he struggle? Describe his
struggle. What can we learn here about decision-making? Why did the
disciples sleep? What does this reveal about them?
3. Who led the arresters? How did Jesus warn Judas? (Why "Son of
Man"?) (69; 9:26) What is the irony of the kiss? How did the other
disciples react? Why did Jesus restrain them? What did he do and
teach his arresters?
4. What did Peter do while Jesus was on trial? Describe Peter's three
denials. Why did Peter deny Jesus? (40,46,50,54,55) When did Peter
remember Jesus' words? (34) How did Jesus encourage Peter? What did
his look mean? (61; 31-34; Mt 16:18)
Today's passage deals with three events which happened in
Jerusalem: First, Jesus' prayer on the Mount of Olives (39-46);
second, Jesus was arrested (47-53); third, Peter's denial of Jesus
(54-62). May God help us learn Jesus' prayer on the Mount of Olives.
May God use us as servants of prayer in this generation.
First, Jesus prays before the cup of suffering (39-46)
Look at verse 39. "Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives,
and his disciples followed him." This verse manifests that Jesus prayed
while he was in Jerusalem. The phrase, "went out as usual," tells us
that he prayed regularly. Jesus is the Son of God, yet he prayed, not
one or two times in emergency situations, but regularly. From the
beginning to the end, the life of Jesus was a life of prayer. Jesus was
in Jerusalem. His day of crucifixion was approaching. But Jesus did
what he should do. During the daytime Jesus taught the word of God to
the lost souls. Luke does not mention that Jesus ate dinner. But during
the nighttime he went to the Mount of Olives and prayed for himself,
especially for his disciples. What a beautiful life Jesus led before
his upcoming crucifixion. Luke 21:37 says, "Each day Jesus was teaching
at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the
hill called the Mount of Olives," which was also called the Garden of
Gethsemane in the other Gospels (Mt 26:36; Mk 14:32). May God bless us
that we can also be servants of prayer. Prayer is total dependence on
God. Prayer is asking God's saving grace. Prayer is the expression of
total obedience to God. Prayer is renewing God's holy mission. Jesus
was supposed to be nailed down on the cross for the sin of the world.
It was not easy for Jesus to be crucified as the Lamb of God. Jesus was
in great anguish; still he prayed. Look at verse 42. "Father, if you
are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be
Jesus also urged his disciples to pray so that they would not fall
into temptation, because it was an opportune time for Satan to cause
the disciples to stumble (40). Jesus also needed their prayer support.
After this Jesus withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down
and prayed (41). Let's read 42. "Father, if you are willing, take
this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." Jesus' prayer
was very short. But he prayed until God gave him victory.
Jesus prayed to overcome his human desires. In verse 42, "cup" did
not mean a championship cup; it was the cup of suffering and death. We
know that Socrates was sentenced to drink a cup of poison. God laid the
cup of suffering and death before Jesus. So Jesus had to decide whether
to drink the cup of suffering and death or not. His humanness compelled
him not to take the cup. So Jesus prayed, "Father, if you are willing,
take this cup from me." As we know well, human beings are clumps of
desires. Of all the desires, the desire for long life might be the
strongest. The people of old times blessed their king, saying, "Long
live the king!" "Long live the king!" No one wants to die in his
thirties. Though Jesus was God, in his manhood he must have hoped to
live, as others do. Jesus also knew that death on the cross was capital
punishment and it was the symbol of shame. Even drug dealers hide their
faces before TV cameras so as not to expose their shameful faces. But
Jesus had to take the cup of suffering on the cross in order to bear
all our shame.
The cross was also the most painful punishment. Surely the impending
sufferings were pictured before his mind's eye. The keen anticipation
or apprehension of pain, which makes up so large a part of so many
human sorrows, overwhelmed him. In his manhood, he was afraid and did
not want to take the cup. But Jesus prayed. He prayed so that he could
overcome his desires, and obey his Father's will for world salvation.
When we pray like Jesus to obey God's will for world salvation, surely
God will bless this nation as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation
Look at verse 42 again. "Father, if you are willing, take this cup
from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." Jesus knew, in his
prayer, who he was before God. This realization made it possible for
him to pray. Jesus knew that he was the Chosen One (Lk 9:35), the
Suffering Servant as was prophesied in Isaiah (Isa 53:5). Jesus knew
that he had to be the Paschal Lamb for the sin of the world (Jn 1:29).
This is the reason Jesus frequently told his disciples about his
rejection, suffering and death. In Luke 9:22 he said, "The Son of Man
must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests
and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be
raised to life." Still, it was not easy for Jesus to die.
We can see the beautiful example of Jesus in making a decision to
obey the will of God. Jesus said, "...yet not my will, but yours be
done." Jesus was not willing to use his freedom of choice, to please
himself, but to please God. However, decision-making is not easy at
all. So there is a line in Shakespeare's work, "To be or not to be,
that is the question." There are so many people who did not marry
because they were not able to make a decision about marriage. They have
no decision power. But Jesus decided to die on the cross. It was
prayer that empowered Jesus to make a decision of faith to take the cup
of suffering and death.
Jesus fought a spiritual battle in prayer. Jesus prayed intensely,
so intensely that he was completely exhausted. Jesus had no more
strength left to fight in prayer. Then what happened to Jesus? God sent
an angel from heaven to help restore him from exhaustion (43). When
Jesus was restored from his exhaustion, what did Jesus do? Again Jesus
kept on praying. Jesus' prayer was literally a spiritual battle. Jesus
fought the battle in prayer to submit himself to the will of God.
Jesus fought a spiritual battle in prayer to overcome the sting of
death. Luke, a medical doctor only, describes how Jesus fought the
spiritual battle in prayer. Verse 44 says, "And being in anguish, he
prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to
the ground." Thank and praise Jesus who prayed until his sweat was like
drops of blood falling to the ground.
When Jesus rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found
them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. They were apprehensive of Jesus'
suffering and cried until they were exhausted and fell asleep. They
were still very immature in spiritual power. They did not know how to
overcome sorrow and hardships through prayer. What did Jesus do for
them? Look at verse 46. "'Why are you sleeping?' he asked them. 'Get
up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.'" Here Jesus
taught them that prayer is the way to overcome the temptation of Satan.
We must believe that prayer is the most potent weapon for the children
Second, Jesus was arrested (47-53)
Jesus had already won the battle before fighting. After prayer,
Jesus looked like a triumphant general. While he was still speaking, a
crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was
leading them. Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, was a guide for the
temple police in arresting Jesus. He approached Jesus to kiss him as a
signal to those he brought.
What did Jesus say to him? Look at verse 48. "Judas, are you
betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?" Jesus knew what Judas was doing.
So Jesus exposed Judas' secret attempt to kiss Jesus as a signal to the
enemies of God. It is totally unbelievable that one of the twelve
disciples betrayed Jesus to get some money. There was a problem; Judas
did not know who the Son of Man really was. So he was selling Jesus for
a certain amount of money. In verse 69 Jesus explains who he really is:
"But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of
the mighty God." This verse implies that Judas is accountable for his
evildoing at the time of judgment. Luke 9:26 says, "If anyone is
ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when
he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy
angels." Jesus, the Son of Man, is the Son of God. Judas betrayed the
Son of Man for 30 pieces of silver. But in fact, he betrayed himself.
Out of anger, one of the disciples struck the servant of the high
priest, cutting off his right ear (49,50). According to John 18:10, it
was Peter who cut off the ear of the high priest's servant, whose name
was Malchus. Jesus said, "No more of this!" Jesus told Peter to resist
no more. Jesus told Peter to persevere even in this. And he touched the
man's ear and healed him. Those who came to arrest Jesus were the chief
priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders. They were
supposed to be the faces and consciences of the nation, and the prayer
servants and Bible teachers for God's flock. But they were not. Jesus
rebuked their evildoing, saying, "Am I leading a rebellion, that you
have come with swords and clubs? Every day I was with you in the temple
courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour--when
darkness reigns." Jesus taught the Bible to the people in the light,
openly, before the eyes of all people (21:37,38). But the religious
leaders did not lay their hands on Jesus then. When the time of
darkness came, they came to arrest Jesus. Jesus was arrested by evil
men. How stunning it is that the religious leaders came to arrest
Third, Peter denies Jesus three times (54-62)
Let's see how Peter denies Jesus three times (54-60). Judas'
betrayal was a heart-breaking event. Another scratch on the broken
heart of Jesus was Peter's triple denial. Peter was the top disciple,
and he was loyal to Jesus (22:33). He was overconfident; but he was not
prayerful. So in his human limitation he denied his Master three
Look at verse 54. "Then seizing him, they led him away and took him
into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance." Jesus
was cross-examined, while hangers-on huddled around the fire. While
Jesus was on trial, the darkness of night hung over the dawn, and the
morning air was sharp. Peter, exhausted, sat near the firelight in
great fear. He crept near the blaze of the fire. A servant girl saw him
seated in the firelight. "This man was with him," she said. "But he
denied it, 'Woman, I don't know him,' he said. A little later someone
else saw him and said, 'You also are one of them.' 'Man, I am not!'
Peter replied. About an hour later another asserted, 'Certainly this
fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.'" He must have been Malchus,
whose right ear Peter had cut off with his sword. Peter replied, "Man,
I don't know what you're talking about!" Just as he was speaking, the
rooster crowed. With his human loyalty he could not follow Jesus to the
end. He denied Jesus three times.
Nevertheless, Jesus deeply cared for Peter. (61,62) Jesus was coming
out of the courtroom and saw that Peter was there. Verse 61a says, "The
Lord turned and looked straight at Peter." We owe the knowledge of this
look of Christ to Luke only. Jesus was tired after enduring the
all-night trial of the priests and false accusations. But when Jesus
saw Peter, Jesus looked straight at him. Why did Jesus look straight at
him? Jesus looked straight at him mainly to remind him of his promises
to Peter. Luke 22:32 says, "But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your
faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your
brothers." Matthew 16:18 says, "And I tell you that you are Peter, and
on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not
overcome it." When he denied Jesus, Peter was like sand on the
seashore. When Jesus looked at him, he looked at him with the hope of
God that someday he would become Peter, a foundation stone of his
church. As Jesus hoped, after the resurrection of Jesus Christ Peter
became the foundation of the Christian church.
At the moment Peter saw Jesus he remembered the word the Lord had
spoken to him: "Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me
three times." Peter went outside and wept bitterly. This cry was the
moment that Peter opened his spiritual eyes to see the love of God.
This cry made it possible for him to meet the Risen Jesus at the
seashore where he had met him first.
Today we learn that Jesus prayed before the cup of suffering. We
also learn that Jesus depended on God absolutely through prayer and
decided to take the cup of suffering and death. May God help us not to
be slaves of emotions, but warriors of prayer. May God use each of us
as prayer servants in this generation.