with Alan Bailey
Welcome to this Bible Study. Read what I have written slowly. If you have a Bible look up the reference verses given, and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your soul through them.
We have been looking at the last things Jesus did in Jerusalem before His death. A sense of gloom hangs over this chapter and the next, as what was taking place was the greatest evil there could ever be. The Lord of Glory was going to a criminal's execution. The Holy One was to be identified with human sin and treated as if He was guilty of it. We take up from where we left off last time.
Verse 32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to His disciples, "Sit here while I pray."
The Lord and the disciples had just partaken of the last supper and then went to the foot of the Mount of Olives where there was a garden and a stand of olive trees. The trees are still there today. Apparently it was a spot they often visited. But now Jesus wanted to speak to the Father.
Verses 33, 34 He took Peter, James and John along with Him, and He began to be deeply distressed and troubled. "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," He said to them. "Stay here and keep watch."
It appears that Jesus took the three leading disciples to one side where He planned to pray. But He was evidently burdened with the prospect of coming events. Having "sorrow to the point of death" is describing depression at its worst. He was looking to the three disciples for a little support. Also, to warn when the party came to arrest Him.
Verses 35, 36 Going a little farther, He fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from Him. "Abba, Father," He said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will but what you will."
It could be said that Jesus was shrinking from the coming ordeal. We should remember a number of things. Jesus was truly human as well as being truly God. As a normal man, He didn't welcome shame and suffering. But even more, He didn't look forward to having the sins of man laid on Himself—a holy man who had never experienced sin in any way. Evil was utterly foreign to His nature yet He was about to experience it as though He was the greatest sinner ever. So He expressed His aversion of the coming cup of suffering. But as always, the will of God the Father was His earnest desire.
Verses 37, 38 Then He returned to His disciples and found them sleeping. "Simon," He said to Peter, "are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."
After a long day, the disciples were exhausted. Being at rest, they dropped off to sleep. But Jesus warned them earlier that a hard time awaited them also. So they needed to pray for themselves, especially that they would remain faithful even when the going was tough. Perhaps like Peter, they felt confident they would have what it took to stand up loyally in the face of opposition.
Verses 39, 40 Once more He went away and prayed the same thing. When He came back, He again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to Him.
Jesus prays for the cup to pass from Him the second time. By now, the disciples are dreamy and not grasping the significance of the occasion. They are no support to their master.
Verses 41, 42 Returning the third time He said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!"
No doubt Jesus knew that He must go through with this great ordeal. It was the Father's will. It was the reason why Jesus had come to earth. It was the only way for salvation to be made available. See how He now faces it? Not attempting to escape or to stall the process but walking forward to His sufferings.
Verse 43 Just as He was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders.
Note how the crowd were ready for violence. Strange when there was no indication that Jesus and His followers would ever resort to fighting.
Verses 44-46 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: "The one I kiss is the man; arrest Him and lead Him away under guard." Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, "Rabbi!" and kissed Him. The men seized Jesus and arrested Him.
We have already wondered why Judas would do such a thing as to betray his friend. But now we see the depth of his sin in the way he carries out the betrayal. A kiss. And that after the respectful address "Rabbi," How treacherous!
Verse 47 Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
From the Gospel of John we see that it was Peter who used the sword. It was entirely out of place but we have learned that Peter was an impulsive type of person who often acted without much thought. Other Gospels tell that Jesus replaced the young man's ear.
Verses 48, 49 "Am I leading a rebellion," said Jesus, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled."
We remember that they did not arrest Jesus in the daytime in a public place because so many people saw Jesus as a prophet and would raise opposition. This night arrest out of the view of the people was what they needed. Jesus says that the prophecies about all these happenings must come to pass.
Verses 50-52 Then everyone deserted Him and fled. A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.
Now that things had reached this point, Jesus' disciples moved out of sight. We will see that Peter remained, hanging back. John also turned up a little later at the trial. So much for their vows to stay loyal. The young man who escaped naked has been thought to be John Mark, the writer of this Gospel. He was a friend of Peter's and knew what was going on.
Verses 53, 54 They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, elders and teachers of the law came together. Peter followed Him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.
This gathering represented the religious leaders of the Jews. It is not too much to say that they hated Jesus and wished to destroy Him. By this time it was early morning, still dark and very cold. Peter was trying to look anonymous. The passion of the Christ was just beginning.
The trials of Jesus are just beginning. As we try to imagine what He was going through, we must remember that it was for us He did all this. He submitted to false accusation and injustice, cruelty and shame in order to save you and me. Think on this. Offer Him thanks.•