alone in the garden struggle

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What a meal! The taste of the lamb is still on your lips. You find yourself continuing to wrestle with the magnitude of what Jesus said: His body and His blood poured out for the forgiveness of sins. It was cause for worship—making everyone long for a better day. There is no better way to reflect the gladness of your heart than to worship. Based on the fresh revelation that Jesus is the Messiah, you are in His presence and ready to sing; and that’s exactly what happens: worship begins to the tune of an old, familiar hymn. As dinner ends, you exit the door and follow Jesus to the Mount of Olives. On your way, the Messiah speaks:

Jesus experienced intense anguish over the burden the Father placed on Him. He asked His inner circle to share with Him in this agonizing time of anticipation and sorrow as He faced His crucifixion. Though He asked for the weight of dying for the sins of the world to be removed from Him, knowing it would cost Him His life, Jesus willingly submitted Himself to the Father’s will. • Write out your biggest fears, doubts, and struggles that overwhelm you in life right now. Take time to honestly pray through this list.

• Write out a prayer for the strength and faith to pursue God’s will above your own. Jesus shows us that we can honestly confess the anguish we feel when we suffer as long as we submit to God’s will—no matter the pain that may come about. Ask God for the strength to persevere through the struggle and humility to submit to His plan.

“You will all fall away because of me this night…” — Matthew 26:31a You think to yourself, “What an odd thing for Jesus to say after a time of worship?!” You think about saying something, but then Peter chimes in: “I will never fall away.” Your thoughts exactly. Jesus must not understand your intense loyalty to Him. Then you start to notice the change in Jesus’ countenance—from the joy of the previous hours of celebration to a deep anguish. It appears as if the weight of the world begins to crush His posture and slump His shoulders. With tears in His eyes and a shaky voice you hear, “Please stay up while I pray…keep watch with me through the night.” A perfect opportunity to prove your allegiance to Him, and yet, as the minutes tick by, your eyes start to grow heavy.

• Just as Jesus asked His closest friends to come around Him in this time of agonizing struggle, who is it that you have asked to come around you in similar times? Make a list of those names and reach out to them and thank them for their prayers. Who can you be that friend to right now?

Meanwhile, the weight of what Jesus is about to go through is overwhelming. In complete honesty and surrender, Jesus asks His Father to take this burden from Him. He prays and calls out to His Father for help, strength, and guidance for the coming hours: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” — Matthew 26:39b Three times Jesus returns to find His closest friends asleep—just a few hours of prayer is all He asked for. In these moments, He feels utterly alone in the garden.

DIVE DEEPER Matthew 26:36–46 • Mark 14:32–42 • Luke 22:39–46