Holy Week: Maundy Thursday

In Holy Week by Stuart Owens

32 Then they came to a place named Gethsemane, and he told his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 He said to them, “I am deeply grieved to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake.” 35 He went a little farther, fell to the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 And he said, “Abba, Father! All things are possible for you. Take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will.” 37 Then he came and found them sleeping. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Couldn’t you stay awake one hour? 38 Stay awake and pray so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 Once again he went away and prayed, saying the same thing. 40 And again he came and found them sleeping, because they could not keep their eyes open. They did not know what to say to him. 41 Then he came a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The time has come. See, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Get up; let’s go. See, my betrayer is near.”

Mark 14:32-42, CSB

Today is Thursday. 

Yesterday, we saw how the religious leaders of the day plotted to kill the anointed Son of God.  Today, we’ll see how Jesus – in the final moments before his arrest – leans into the presence of the Lord in prayer.

Any good theologian will tell you that Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man.  We call it the hypostatic union: two complete natures contained within the person of Christ.  In today’s story, we see Jesus grappling with some of the most painful parts of the human experience: sorrow, trouble, and grief.   

Mark tells us that Jesus took three of his closest disciples with him to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray.  The garden’s name literally means “oil press.” Imagine the kind of crushing force that’s needed to extract oil from an olive.  Every day, in this garden, that force would be carried out olives to create the same kind of oil that would be used to anoint the heads of the sick for their healing.  Now, Jesus sits in that very place considering the crushing that He would endure to heal us of our terminal illness: sin.

Jesus told his disciples he was “deeply grieved to the point of death” and asked them to stay awake to pray.  The reality of the suffering that He would endure on the cross for us was palpable. In Luke’s gospel, he writes that in his anguish, Jesus began to sweat “what was like great drops of blood.”  The stress he was feeling had caused the capillaries under his skin to rupture, mixing with his perspiration and causing him to literally sweat drops of blood.

Even though he’d asked the disciples to stay awake and pray, they didn’t.  They couldn’t stay awake.  After rebuking them, he returns to pray again.  Alone there in the garden, Jesus goes to one person who is always there: the Father.

And as he sits in that place, he prays “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” Knowing all that the cross would cost him, He runs to the Father to pray because Jesus knows that our communion with God fuels our submission to God.  What a great model for us today

As the world suffers from their great sickness, Jesus is praying.

While Judas is betraying him, Jesus is praying.

While the disciples are sleeping, Jesus is praying.

As the Pharisees march toward him to arrest him, Jesus is praying.

Why?

He is pressing into the presence of God in order that he might submit himself to the will of God.

You see, communion with God fuels submission to God.

Even in his anguish, Jesus is able to submit himself to the Father because he is strengthened by his relationship with the Father.

As we consider this story, let me ask you:

What do you need to submit to God in prayer?

Is it a relationship? An addiction? An attitude?

Knowing that all things are possible for God, spend some time in prayer today asking Him to give you the courage, grace, and power to obey Him in every area of your life.