Matthew 26:36 (Secret Prayer in the Garden)

At Jesus’ last Passover with His disciples to remember God’s deliverance of His people from their bondage in Egypt He established the Lord’s Supper to remember the even greater deliverance of His people from their bondage to sin, which He was about to accomplish.  After the meal He retired to a garden on the Mount of Olives to which He was accustomed to stay during the feasts, where Judas knew He would be so as to lead the authorities to arrest Him.  The name of the garden, Gethsemane, means an olive press, and is significant because it was here that the oil of the Holy Spirit was pressed from Jesus as He submitted Himself to the will of the Father to be crushed by the sins of the world; cf. Isa 53:5.  In doing so He demonstrated to His disciples and to the whole world the way to life through death.  For as sin is what separates us from the life of God, so is it by dying to sin that we can be reconciled back to God.  And just as God raised Jesus from the dead, so will He raise those who follow Him in the way of the cross, so that they need not fear death.  This is the salvation that Jesus came to bring, and this is the oil of the Holy Spirit that flowed from Jesus in the garden that anoints His followers and leads them to eternal life as sons of God; see Rom 8:12-17; cf. Phil 2:5-11, 1Pe 2:19-24, 4:1-2.

Upon arriving in the garden, what did Jesus say to His disciples?  See Mat 26:36.  How far did He withdraw from the disciples to pray?  See Luk 22:41.  Was Jesus’ desire to pray privately unique to the circumstances of that evening?  See Mar 1:35, 6:46, Luk 6:12.  Was His practice of praying in secret unique to Him as the Son of God, or also an example for us?  See Mat 6:6; cf. 2Ki 4:33, Isa 26:20, Act 9:40, 10:9.  Do we have a similar devotion to secret prayer?  Before withdrawing to pray Himself, what did He also enjoin all the disciples to pray?  See Luk 22:40.  On this occasion, who did He take along with Him, and why?  See Mat 26:37-38.  Consider the awesome privilege, and responsibility, of being asked by the Son of God to keep watch with Him through prayer, especially at that moment that turned out to be the darkest hour of our Savior’s life.  Although Peter, James and John didn’t understand and couldn’t foresee what was about to take place, isn’t that the very reason why it is so important to keep watch through prayer, especially when called to do so by Jesus?  Has He likewise called us to keep watch and pray because we don’t know what is about to take place?  See Mat 24:36-42, Luk 21:34-36.  Are we faithful to do so, or are our eyes heavy like theirs (Mat 26:40,43,45) so that we neglect to our own peril our duty to which He has called us?

On what other occasions did Jesus also single out Peter, James and John to join Him apart from the other disciples?  See Luk 8:51, 9:28.  What does this teach us about Jesus having a closer, inner circle of disciples than even the twelve?  In what way did a similar thing happen on the Mount of Transfiguration as happened in Gethsemane?  See Luk 9:28-32.  Is it possible that we too might be in danger of not seeing the glory of God because we are asleep and not awake and alert by keeping watch with Jesus through prayer?  Is it possible that we might be in even greater danger of being given over to a spiritual sleep so that we are caught unawares by the day of the Lord as if by a thief in the night?  See Jer 51:39,57, 2Th 2:9-12, Mat 24:43-44, 25:5-13, Rom 13:11, Rev 3:2-3, 16:15; cf. 1Th 5:4-6.  What indication do we have that the disciples learned from their failure that night the importance of overcoming their fleshly desires to keep watch with Jesus through a devotion to prayer?  See Act 1:14, 2:42, 3:1, 6:2-4, 10:9, 12:5,12, 13:3, 14:23, 16:25, 20:36, 21:5, etc…  Have we learned the same lesson, and are our prayers born of the same necessity and conviction, or have they like those of dead religion become perfunctory and degenerated to mere formalities?

Consider that Jesus singled out Peter, James and John to join Him on the Mount of Transfiguration where they saw His glory; why was it appropriate that they should also be singled out to join Him in Gethsemane where they were also witnesses of His suffering?  See Luk 24:26, 1Pe 1:10-11, 2Pe 1:16-18; cf. 1Pe 1:3-9, 4:12-14, 5:1,10.  Although it is our desire to be witnesses of Christ’s glory, are we as willing to be witnesses of His suffering that precedes such glory?  Recall that James and John wanted the glory of sitting at Jesus’ right and left in His kingdom (Mar 10:37); did they understand at that time the sufferings that precede such glory?  See Mar 10:38-39.  Likewise, Peter wanted the glory of being first among the disciples; but did he understand the sufferings unto humiliation his soul would endure that would fit him for that position?  See Mat 20:25-28, 26:33-35,75, Joh 21:17-19.