It is Thursday evening, and the crucifixion will happen on Friday. Jesus is meeting with his disciples in the last meal, and in it, giving them instructions and assurances, and again predicting his death. Much of this did not register with the disciples, as indicated by their responses upon his arrest and desertion after the sham trial. But Jesus has some final lessons for his disciples, which will shape them and the early church after his resurrection and departure to heaven. After the Last Supper, Jesus withdrew to a private place, and there, disclosed his struggle with the Plan of the Cross.
They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He 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.” 35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba,[a] Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:32-36.
- Again, Jesus’ Last Hours Characterized by Prayer. Jesus now withdraws in private to pray again to the Father. His last prayer was with the disciples at the Last Supper. Now he enters back into the presence of His Father in prayer, with the candor of the text – deeply distressed, troubled, overwhelmed with sorry to the point of death. Jesus was not dreading death, but the manner of death, and to that end, he seeks the most intimate of prayers with his heavenly Father – Abba, Father.
- The Impossible Request. If it be possible, take this cup from me. In this we see the whole person of Jesus – in his human weakness, dreading the manner of his soon death, and with candor, asking again, is there another way other than the cross? The question for which he also knew the answer. The wrath of God on sin and the necessity of the death of Jesus for the redemption and reconciliation of man to God – it all was from the beginning the plan of God. The cup is the cup of suffering, again the manner of his death.
- The Gathering of Heaven to Jesus, and His Obedience to the Will of the Father. Other texts note also how much extreme anguish Jesus was in, and the ministry of an angel from heaven during His crisis. An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. Luke 22:43-44. And in and through this crisis, obedience: Yet not my will but yours be done.
Candidly, there are few words I can add to these texts. They speak for themselves, not only as to the eternal plan of redemption, the love of God for those of us made in his image, the support of the disciples during this time, and the absolute and resolute obedience of the Godhead to the necessity of the sacrifice of Jesus in his death to cover over and take on the sins of the rebellion from the garden of Eden forward, through the nation of Israel, promised in the line of David, born of the conception of Jesus who was fully God and fully man, and now finished by the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. This is the whole of the Biblical message, summarized in these last poignant hours. I trust this encourages you as it does me. Stay well.