December 29

Text: Matthew 26:36-45

Then Jesus *came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and *said to His disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray."  And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed.  Then He *said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me."  And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt."  And He *came to the disciples and *found them sleeping, and *said to Peter, "So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour?  Keep watching and praying, that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, "My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Thy will be done."  And again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy.  And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more.  Then He *came to the disciples, and *said to them, "Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.  (NASB)

Matthew saw a man whose devotion to God could endure severe loneliness.

This was a unique incident.  Jesus always wanted to do what God wanted him to do—except for this moment!  In the past Jesus “was there” for the twelve in all circumstances—he encouraged, forgave, challenged, and chastised.  Whatever they needed, he provided—not wanted, but needed. 

Only this time was he in serious need of their support.  They failed him completely.  They did not even notice his grief and distress.  Yet, his devotion to God endured.  His surrender was genuine.

Rarely do we understand how much faith in God it took to endure what was ahead of Jesus.  (1) He had to believe his suffering was God’s will.  (2) He had to believe his death would achieve God’s purposes.  (3) He had to believe God was stronger than Satan.  (4) He had to believe God would give him his place back (see John 17:4, 5).  (5) He had to believe God could and would resurrect him from the place of the dead.  In all of this, he had to demonstrate the reality of his faith in God by dying on the cross.

Suggestion for reflection: How do you demonstrate your faith in God?  (Read James 2:12-26.)

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