32 Jesus and his disciples came to a place called Gethsemane. Jesus said to them, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James, and John along with him. He began to feel despair and was anxious. 34 He said to them, “I’m very sad. It’s as if I’m dying. Stay here and keep alert.” 35 Then he went a short distance farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if possible, he might be spared the time of suffering. 36 He said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible. Take this cup of suffering away from me. However—not what I want but what you want.”
37 He came and found them sleeping. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you stay alert for one hour? 38 Stay alert and pray so that you won’t give in to temptation. The spirit is eager, but the flesh is weak.”
39 Again, he left them and prayed, repeating the same words. 40 And, again, when he came back, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open, and they didn’t know how to respond to him. 41 He came a third time and said to them, “Will you sleep and rest all night? That’s enough! The time has come for the Human One [or Son of Man] to be betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Get up! Let’s go! Look, here comes my betrayer.”
43 Suddenly, while Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, came with a mob carrying swords and clubs. They had been sent by the chief priests, legal experts, and elders.
Rome meant for crucifixion to strike terror in the stoutest human heart. Even Jesus shrank from the ordeal. This is Mark’s account of Jesus' prayer struggle in Gethsemane as he faced “despair,” “anguish,” and being “anxious”—parts of our human experience he shared (cf. Hebrews 4:14-16). He asked God, in effect, “Isn’t there some other way?” But even before he said, “Not what I will, but what you will,” his prayer carried a note of trust. Abba was an intimate Aramaic family word, one that conveyed the same trusting sense as our English words “daddy” or “papa.”
- Jesus shrank, not just from the physical pain of the cross, but from the spiritual ordeal he faced. The apostle Paul wrote that Jesus carried the spiritual burden of sin (alienation from God) in our place (2 Corinthians 5:21). How can you trust your heavenly abba even in the face of darkness, as Jesus did? What challenges in your life have left you “deeply distressed and troubled”? Did others tell you (or did you tell yourself) that you should be “stronger,” that you shouldn’t feel what you felt? How does Jesus’ experience in the Garden show that it takes greater inner strength to honestly face and express your feelings in times of anguish than to deny them? When you face the unbearable, are you learning to trust and say, as Jesus did, “Not my will but yours be done”?
Lord Jesus, thank you for promising to be with me always, even during the hard times. Thank you for modeling honesty about life’s struggles for me, as well as hope and courage. Amen.
Create a “prayer pillow” for each family member. Ask each family member to bring his or her pillow, covered in a pillowcase, to a gathering spot. Provide crayons or markers and paper. Invite each person to draw a picture of, or write down a prayer for, every other family member. When everyone has finished their prayers, have them place the right prayer in each person’s pillowcase. Read and share your prayers with each other. Close your time together by thanking God for your family. Ask each person to sleep with his or her prayer pillow. Let everyone know they can continue to place prayers inside each other’s pillows. Also encourage everyone to add their own prayers to their own pillow if they wish.
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Addie uses her project management and marketing skills as a part of the Communications team at Church of the Resurrection. Outside of work she likes to bless others by volunteering with Junior League and Central Methodist University (her alma mater). Mugs of hot tea fuel her adventures to explore new places and try new recipes to share with her family and friends.