Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
They say, “misery loves company,” which usually means we might feel better about our own suffering if we know others are also going through tough times. In that sense, it’s not a nice sentiment at all, like wishing misery on others just to make yourself feel better. Then again, it could point to a very different truth: we need friends around us when we are suffering. Jesus sure did. He asked his disciples to stay with him and “keep watch.” He wanted their company during that miserable time of anticipating the cross. Jesus knew what cup He would soon have to drink, and his soul was “overwhelmed with sorrow.”
This passage, perhaps more than any other in the Bible, displays Jesus’ humanity. We believe He is fully God and that even during his time on earth He remained divine. And yet, He was also fully human for that time. He lived in a body like ours, with all its limitations, needs, weaknesses and pains. Jesus walked among us as a man, and He felt just what we would feel if we knew suffering and death were right around the corner. He didn’t only act “troubled,” He really was. That is why, in his great hour of need, Jesus asked his friends to stay with him. In that moment, He didn’t want to be alone. Neither do we. Some burdens are too heavy to carry by ourselves, too difficult to bear. We need friends, family and the church to keep watch with us. We need their encouragement. We need their strength and faith and hope. We need their prayers.
Jesus taught us another lesson about prayer on that dark night. He submitted his will to God, even though it was hard. We can see the struggle of his human nature that wanted to avoid suffering against his determination to fulfill his mission and win salvation for the world through his atoning death. In the end, Jesus chose submission to God’s will. It takes great faith to pray for God’s will to be done. It means giving up control. It means surrendering to what God knows is best even when we don’t know what that will mean for us. In faith, we believe God’s will is good and perfect. He will accomplish in us what He knows is right. Jesus embraced God’s will that night and taught us to do the same.
Father, I trust You to do what is best in my life. Give me courage to face what You know lies ahead, and surround me with friends who can lift me up when I am in need. Then use me to encourage and support others. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian