The Garden of Gethsemane

Journey through Scripture

Jesus’ ultimate obedience to the Father

Let us picture the Garden of Gethsemane, moonlit and silent, as Jesus faced His ultimate test late that Friday night. There, Jesus, fully man and God, submitted His natural will to His Father as God’s true and obedient Son.

They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ 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.’

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.’
Mark 14:32-36 NIVUK

Betrayed and arrested

Jesus was betrayed by a very close friend and arrested by armed guards like a common rebel intent on violence. Yet He remained calm and self-controlled, in harmony with the will of the Father.

While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, ‘Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?’

When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, ‘Lord, should we strike with our swords?’ And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.

But Jesus answered, ‘No more of this!’ And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, ‘Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour – when darkness reigns.’
Luke 22:47-53 NIVUK

Isaiah predicted Jesus’ arrest as part of the fulfilment of God’s coming suffering servant. In Gethsemane, Jesus retained the demeanour of an obedient servant to fulfil the Scriptures. He did not call on God to rescue Him.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
Isaiah 53:7 NIVUK

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A deeper look at Scripture

How should we understand Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane?

Let us consider the three terrible prospects Jesus faced in anticipation of His crucifixion:

  • As fully man, Jesus dreaded pain, physical death and complete annihilation just like any other person who faces imminent death (Hebrews 2:15).
  • As the sinless Son of God, Jesus dreaded the weight of the sin of all humankind that was about to come upon Him to the point that He would fully identify with sin, becoming sin itself (2 Corinthians 5:21).
  • As the beloved Son of the Father, Jesus dreaded the righteous anger of His holy Father toward sin, which would fall upon Him as He became the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice which turned away God’s wrath) for our sin and the sin of the whole world (1 John 2:2).


How should we understand Jesus’ behaviour during His arrest?

Jesus called Judas his friend. His love for Judas remained intact. He reprimanded Peter’s rash violence and healed the ear he slashed off. Jesus was consistent with His character and mission even in extremity. Jesus, the Lamb of God, went to His sacrificial death without threat or resistance. He fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah (Isaiah 53:7).

How does this apply to me?

Gethsemane can teach us many lessons. Here are two main thoughts to consider.

  • Our obedience to God is paramount in all areas of our lives. Jesus lived a life of continual obedience to his Father. When He faced the ultimate test in Gethsemane, He had already learned to surrender His will to the Father’s will.
    In what ways can we model Jesus’ unwavering obedience to God, particularly during times of challenge and testing, like the moment in Gethsemane?
  • Jesus set us an example in Gethsemane of how we are meant to act when we are opposed as believers or even when we are treated harshly and unfairly in everyday life.
    How can you entrust yourself to God (who loves and cares for you) in even the most challenging and testing circumstances?


But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

‘He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.’

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. ‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.’
1 Peter 2:20-24 NIVUK

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