“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” He said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”
Mark’s Gospel is really a masterful exposition of the Gospel account. With great brevity the sacred author describes the events surrounding the Passion of our Lord with incredible detail, leading us to feel that we are present bearing witness to the life, humiliation, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the account Mark gives us of the prayer of the Lord Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Here we find ourselves hidden away in a corner of the garden with the young man of Mark 14:51. Could this be Mark? We are bearing witness to a mysterious event. There is the Son of Man at prayer. He is in agony in prayer. We see Him overwhelmed by the sorrow which has overtaken Him. Nearby three of His disciples are sleeping. Jesus is utterly alone, locked in battle with an unseen enemy. He has one weapon, and that is prayer. He is talking with His Father, and sweating great drops of what looks like blood.
As we hide and watch we become aware that a significant spiritual battle is being fought the outcome of which will determine our eternal salvation. Looking at the clues that Mark gives us here it becomes apparent that Jesus is wrestling with the nature of the mission He has been engaged in. It is not an antiseptic, feeling less, sacrifice that He will offer. He has come to become our substitute sin bearer. All the wrath of God for all of human sin will be poured out upon this holy Son of God. He will be humiliated, beaten, disserted by everyone, family, disciples, His nation, and even finally and most hurtfully by His Heavenly Father. As Jesus does battle with the reality of this its horror begins to fall upon Him in the garden. How can He bear up under such an awesome load of wrath? Ivor Powell suggests that this may even have brought Jesus to such an intense feeling of despair that He feared that He might even die before He reached the cross. Powell wonders if this is the cup that Jesus seeks deliverance from. We may never be able to understand the depth of the mystery which is described here. At the very least He is struggling with a temptation to flee away from the cross and the entire wrath of God that it will involve. To do this will mean that God’s great, gracious plan of redemption would never be accomplished. We would not be saved if that were to happen. Over a prolonged struggle in prayer the Lord Jesus Christ commits Himself to the cross and our salvation.
He prays. He agonizes in prayer. When was the last time that you or I agonized in prayer over the struggle that God has brought into our lives to walk with the Lord Jesus and to testify to His Gospel which is the only hope of this sin sick world? In Hebrews 12:1-4 God’s Word encourages us in our struggle.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
Let us throw off everything which hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”
He did all this for you. What have you done to serve Him?