Last week as I was doing my study of Matthew 26 & 27 we were prompted to think about Jesus as he pray in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46). As I read the notes over the passage I was drawn to these statements:
The Lord Jesus was far lonelier than you will ever be. Jesus endured loneliness so you could enjoy unbroken fellowship with Him and His Father forever. – Bible Study Fellowship (Lesson 26 notes)
The thought had never crossed my mind about just how alone Jesus was that last day of his life. As he goes into the garden to pray, he takes with him his 3 closest friends: Peter, James & John. He tells them to watch and pray while he goes just a few feet further to pray alone. While Jesus prays he is filled with grief over what is about to take place. Later that night he would be betrayed, put on trial, condemned, confess to his deity, beaten, mocked, scourged, and in the morning crucified. He knew what was coming but the worst part was the separation and punishment he was about to endure from His Father.
Imagine yourself alone. Maybe you are. Maybe you are surrounded by ‘friends’ but inwardly you feel thousands of miles away. Maybe you have prayed to a God you don’t really know. Maybe you know Him closer than you think. In those moments at Gethsemane Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Jesus asks for God’s mercy if it is possible for there to be any other way for people to be given salvation. When he returns to where the disciples are he finds them sleeping. In that moment God answers Jesus’ prayer. These men who loved Jesus could not keep awake. They could not force themselves to stay awake and pray. They could not save themselves.
Again Jesus goes away to pray, this time knowing that there is no other way, and now beseeching his Father for comfort, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” Then again he goes back to his disciples and again is given an answer to his prayer. As he looks upon the disciples, who had just been warned to stay awake, he receives confirmation again that God’s will must happen. It is not only impossible for these men to save themselves, it is impossible for them to pray for their salvation.
Once more Jesus goes a few feet away and prays to his Father in heaven for confirmation to himself of what is about to take place, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” Again Jesus receives an answer from God as the betrayer (Judas Iscariot) comes up to kiss him. The answer is that there is no time left to make a decision. God has made it and it will stand. Now as the mob grows angry with Jesus, he tells them to let the disciples go and then willingly let’s them bind him and take him away. The Creator of the universe allows his hands to be bound by his creation. He goes alone as his friends scatter.
As an onlooker a choice has to be made: are you Peter, or are you Judas? Peter initially was bold to fight for Jesus (26:51) while Judas willingly handed him over (26:48). Later Peter denies Jesus 3 times (26:69-74) while Judas realizes he has given over an innocent man and tries to make amends (27:3-4). However, when Peter realized he had sinned he goes out and weeps bitterly; the Greek term used is lament (26:75). Judas on the other hand feels remorse and instead of giving himself over to God, takes matters into his own hands and kills himself (27:5).
If you are like Peter and you have felt sincere grief and anguish over your sin, you have something in those moments of prayer that Jesus did not – you have Him. Jesus is our Comforter and our High Priest. He goes into the presence of God on our behalf to pray for and redeem us from God’s judgement that is coming. Repentance for sin is the beginning of the beautiful life of forgiveness.
If you are like Judas then you have made your decision and it doesn’t matter whether or not you die today or tomorrow, the comfort will never come. We can either take things into our own hands or give them over to Christ who suffered and died – who became a willing prisoner to your sins, fears, and circumstances – who was denied favor from God as he took on His full wrath for sins past, present, and future of those who are His. Jesus was truly alone so that you never will be.
You must make your choice.
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