Matthew 26:36-40 (TPT)
36 Then Jesus led His disciples to an orchard called “The Oil Press.”
He told them, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.”
37 He took Peter, James, and John with Him.
However, an intense feeling of great sorrow
plunged His soul into deep sorrow and agony.
38 And He said to them,
“My heart is overwhelmed and crushed with grief.
It feels as though I’m dying.
Stay here and keep watch with Me.”
39 Then He walked a short distance away, and overcome with grief,
He threw himself facedown on the ground and prayed,
“My Father, if there is any way You can deliver Me from this suffering,
please take it from Me.
Yet what I want is not important,
for I only desire to fulfill Your plan for Me.”
Then an angel from heaven appeared to strengthen Him.
It was Holy Week and I was revisiting Jesus on the night of His betrayal, spending time in the Garden of Gethsemane.
As I entered the Garden, I observed the intensity of His emotions and realized that He was not immune to feeling pain. He was not immune to struggle. He was fully human. Although He was in a place of deep personal struggle as He looked to the horrific journey that lay before Him, I realized He was also experiencing deep grief over His closest friends abandoning Him in His time of need. The three falling asleep in the garden instead of praying. The one who would betray Him. The one who would deny him, and all but one who would run away in fear to let Him suffer alone on His journey to the cross.
I saw His honesty about His feelings—not trying to hide them, not pretending He was fine, not denying them, not shielding others from His pain, fear, grief, and needs. He was fully present to His emotions, allowing Himself to acknowledge and feel them, inviting His closest friends into His suffering.
How long did He wrestle in the garden? A few minutes? A few hours? All night? I don’t know the length of time but I do know He was in an agonizing battle. He spent the time praying, bringing His distraught soul into His Father’s presence, talking it through, asking for mercy, struggling with a myriad of emotions until He reached a place of full acceptance and surrender.
I wondered if He hadn’t allowed Himself to experience the intense feelings, would they have turned to resentment, bitterness, or thoughts of revenge, that would have hindered Him from walking out His mission?
As I observed Jesus, I was struck by a pattern I’d never noticed before—a process He revealed to me for going through my own seasons of struggle.
- He invited: He selected a few close trustworthy friends and asked them to be with Him in His suffering and pray while He struggled. (v. 37)
- He acknowledged His pain: He was vulnerable: revealing and acknowledging the intensity of His sorrow, grief and agony. He felt the deep emotions, not denying them or acting like He had it under control. (v. 38)
- He prayed: He took it to His Father in prayer, bringing His raw emotions, His desires, and His will into the presence of the One who fully loved, understood, and was able to help Him. (v. 39)
- He surrendered: Through prayer He reached a place of detachment to His human desires and accepted His Father’s plans for His life. (v. 39)
- He was strengthened: After submitting His will to the plan, an angel came to strengthen Him, giving Him what He needed to walk it out.
God was clear that this was to be my pattern as I enter into places of struggle and difficulty. To bring a few trustworthy friends into my pain, to acknowledge and feel the emotions, without denying or repressing them, to pray, surrender, and finally be strengthened by the Spirit.
Several days after this powerful pattern of instruction, I entered into a challenging season of my own, feeling misunderstood, betrayed, and deeply hurt by someone close to me. I saw God’s heart of mercy and grace for me, preparing me in advance for the pain, hurt, and anger. Instead of falling into to my old ways of responding to hurt, I have been able to connect more deeply to Jesus’ experience of suffering and persevere on the path towards healing and my own place of personal resurrection.