“Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane” (Matthew 26:36).
The agony of Jesus’ death, beginning with His ordeal in the Garden of Gethsemane, is something finite believers will never fully comprehend.
C.H. Spurgeon, in an 1880s sermon, said this to his congregation: “It will not be enough for you to hear, or read [about Christ]; you must do your own thinking and consider your Lord for yourselves. . . . Shut yourself up with Jesus, if you would know him.” However, even those who most conscientiously follow Spurgeon’s admonition to meditate on Jesus’ Person and ministry find the effort reveals much about Him that is beyond human understanding.
As we continue our study of the events leading up to the Lord’s sacrificial death, we also realize that it’s difficult to grasp the full meaning of many of them. Even with the aid of the Spirit’s illumination, we find the weight of Jesus’ agony and suffering more than our minds can completely fathom. As the sinless God-man, He could perceive the full scope of sin’s horror in a way we never can.
Like every other aspect of Jesus’ life, though, His agony in Gethsemane was part of God’s foreordained plan of redemption. Christ’s intense sorrow and mental wrestling in the face of His mission to take away the sin of the world fit perfectly with Scripture’s portrait of Him. The prophet Isaiah predicted that He would be “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3). In John 11:35 “Jesus wept” at Lazarus’ grave. Luke 19:41 tells us that at His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, “He saw the city and wept over it.”
The Lord Jesus’ experience in Gethsemane was the final accumulation of all the hardships, sorrows, and griefs He had to deal with in His earthly ministry. And our Lord, through His dark struggle in the Garden, is the best role model we will ever have of a godly response to trials and temptations. In view of His sacrificial death for us, His response to adversity should cause us to stand in awe of our great Savior and desire to follow His example.
Suggestions for Prayer
Pray that the Lord would strengthen your resolve to follow His example in dealing with trials.
For Further Study
Read John 11:1-46, and list some parallels you see in verses 30-44 between Jesus’ reactions to Lazarus’s death and how He would respond to His own suffering and death.
From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997.