After eating His last Passover with His disciples Jesus retired with them to a garden called Gethsemane. There, according to its name, which means an olive press, He was pressed for the oil of the Spirit that would be poured out upon us richly through Him, so that by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit we might be saved; see Tit 3:5-7. For in this way Jesus showed us the way to life through the way of the cross unto death, and bids us follow Him, that where He is, there we also might be; Joh 12:24-26, cf. Luk 9:23-24. After describing the distressed state of Jesus’ soul and His plea for Peter, James and John to keep watch with Him (Mat 26:38), what does Matthew record that Jesus did then? See Mat 26:39. Recall that Jesus had already retired with His inner circle a stone’s throw away from the other disciples to pray (Luk 22:41); what does His now going a little beyond them remind us about the intimate nature of personal prayer, that like the intimacy between a man and his wife, is a private communion between just God and us personally as individuals? Do we realize what an incredible privilege and opportunity a personal time of prayer is because it allows us to enter into a private, secret communion with God Himself apart from any others to bare our souls and plead our cause without fear of interruption, or ridicule, or naysaying, or contradiction, or accusation from anyone? Would we not regard even five minutes in private with the President of the United States to plead a dear cause as the blessing of a lifetime? How much more, then, a sweet hour of secret prayer in which we have free access to the God of all creation, any time, night or day, if we will but come to Him?
How does Luke describe Jesus’ posture as He prayed in the garden? See Luk 22:41. How does Mark describe His entrance to prayer during this time of intense agony? See Mar 14:35. What does Matthew add to this description? See Mat 26:39. Do these accounts contradict each other? What does the position of Jesus’ body during this prayer in His greatest hour of crisis teach us about where He supposed we are the very closest to God and most likely to find His help in time of need? Cf. Isa 57:15, 66:2, Luk 18:9-14. Why is that? See Jam 4:6-7, 1Pe 5:5-6. Do we similarly realize that in our greatest time of need, even if we are 100% in the right, as Jesus was, that we are closest to the help God can provide when we humble ourselves, subject our will to His, and submit our troubles and concerns to His able care? What does the author of Hebrews say was the result of Jesus’ piety as He prayed with loud crying and tears to the One who was able to save Him from death? See Heb 5:7.
What were the first two words of Jesus’ prayer in the garden as He cried out to God in this most difficult time? See Mat 26:39. What does this remind us about the comfort in the midst of any trial we may face in knowing God as our heavenly Father who loves us as His dear children, so that no matter what happens, we can know for sure that He absolutely has our best interests in mind, even if we can’t see or understand it from our vantage point, so that we can rest in His most able and tender care?
What was the substance of Jesus’ prayer as He fell on His face in this time of trial? See Mat 26:39. How does Luke render what Matthew has as if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me? See Luk 22:42. Is anything impossible for God, or with God? See Mar 10:27, Luk 1:37. Thus, while both Matthew’s and Luke’s renderings imply the same sense of desiring some other way to accomplish God’s purpose, in what way is Luke’s the more accurate? See Mar 14:35-36. Have we learned this most important truth about prayer, that it is never a matter of whether or not something is possible, or if God is able, but rather if God is willing, according to the tapestry He is weaving throughout history from each of our individual lives and choices to accomplish His own purposes? See Jam 4:13-15; cf. Act 18:21, Rom 1:10, 1Co 4:19. What does this remind us about there being something much, much bigger than ourselves and our own little world and what we want, of which we are surely a part, but only a part, and of which God must be in control? What does it also remind us about why we must subject our will to His in humble faith that His goodness and justice will not only always be what is best for us, but will fully reward those who trust and obey Him beyond what we can ever think or imagine? Cf. 1Co 2:9.
What was the cup that Jesus prayed would pass from Him? See Mat 20:22-23, Joh 18:11. What is the significance that He refers to His sufferings as a cup, and not a river that runs continually, or a lake or sea that is never emptied? Do we realize as Jesus did that as we subject our will to God’s there is a bottom to the cup of our sufferings and they will not continue always? How is this different from the sufferings of those who refuse to subject themselves to Him? Cf. Rev 14:11. Consider that it was Jesus’ desire that the cup before Him be removed and the hour of His suffering somehow pass Him by (Mar 14:35-36); is it then our human desire to escape suffering that is wrong? Or rather, is it our unwillingness to subject our will to the will of God even if it causes us to suffer? Consider too that Jesus’ prayer for God His Father to remove the cup from Him was not answered according to His own desire; should we be surprised then that He also does not always answer our prayers according to our own desire? Do we have the same faith in such circumstances, even in our most difficult trials, to trust God’s goodness and pray, “nevertheless not as I will, but as You will”, knowing that our trials are but for a moment, while His lovingkindness is from everlasting to everlasting to those who fear Him? Cf. Psa 30:5, 103:17.