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Stations of the Cross: Jesus Prays Alone

39 And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. 40 And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.  45 And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, 46 and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” – Luke 22:39-46

The first station of the cross is when Jesus prays to the Father in the garden of Gethsemane or the Mount of Olives. When Jesus prays here in the garden, He makes clear He knows what is going to happen. He knows that prophecy must be fulfilled. At this greatest time of temptation and agony, He was left alone by the disciples, and while they slept, He prayed. The submission of the Son to His Father is shown. If there was any other way for God’s justice to be satisfied Jesus prayed that He would not have to endure the trials of the cross, but through it all, with the knowledge of what was to come, Jesus prayed that His will would not be done but that the Father’s will would be done. The agony and the stress were so great that the Bible records that Jesus sweat great drops of blood. This is not a literary license by the writer, but a legitimate medical condition called Hematohidrosis. This is caused by an amount of stress so great that it causes the blood vessels close to the skin to burst and blood to come out as sweat through the pores of the skin. This shows us that Christ’s prayer was a true cry to the Father that there would be a different way to save us. Despite all of this, Jesus shows true submission to the will and plan of the Father.

The disciples are nearby but are “sleeping for sorrow.” Jesus had told them that He would die and though they had realized that this was the long-awaited messiah, they still did not understand that Christ would be raised again. The amount of spiritual warfare going on at this time in the garden is unimaginable. This is why Christ tells the disciples twice to rise and pray that they don’t enter into temptation. The original temptation that caused man to fall into sin was in a garden many years prior, and now the final temptation was once again in a garden where the very souls of men were being fought for.

We must understand that Jesus was God made flesh here on earth. He is the 2nd member of the Holy Trinity and He was both fully God and fully man at the same time. He had a man nature that He had to still war against and He had the power to attempt to defy the Fathers will. Isaiah tells us how the messiah would be treated.

He was despised and rejected by men,
    a man of sorrows  and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (Isaiah 53:3 ESV)

The perfect one who knew no sin, submitted to the Fathers will and took a punishment He never deserved, even to the death. God’s justice required death for sin but as through one man, Adam, man sinned and was sentenced to death and hell, only through the perfect man, Jesus Christ, was man able to be saved from this punishment. This is the beauty of Holy Week. We walk this week through the ultimate sacrifice that could ever be given. The example live out of “No greater love.” 

Jesus, we thank You for Your sacrifice for us. That even before time began You knew that man would fall and that You would step forward and satisfy the wrath of God against Your chosen people. That we would no longer be sentenced to death and eternity in Hell separate from You, but that now because of Your great sacrifice, You have redeemed us and washed us in Your blood and You have gone to prepare a place for us. We are no longer slaves to sin and death, but we are free to live in the perfect will of the Father. I pray that Your Spirit leads and guides that in all things at all times we submit to the will of the Father. In the precious name of Jesus. Amen