Jesus withdraws, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives. The disciples follow him. Now comes a scene famous, notorious, powerful, sad—and yet wonderful. That such a One as this should give his life for a worm such as I! His suffering leads to our healing, his successful struggle through the very worst possible temptation that he might help us in our temptations, his death that we might have life.
Jesus tells his disciples to pray that they might not fall into temptation (22:40). A very ready and present help when facing temptation is to pray for help. Do not neglect this when facing a temptation that seems to us beyond our ability to resist. Turn to God for help; ask him; pray to him. God is an ever present help in time of need, and prayer is the means for us to find that help when we are tempted.
Jesus then prays on his own, close enough that his words might be overheard. His prayer is simple and to the point. He is honest with his desire. There is a level at which he does not wish to face this hour of trial. And yet he is willing to do the will of the Father in heaven. A great secret of prayer is to lay our case before God with openness, and then having unburdened our heart, nonetheless, submit to God and his will. Jesus here models for us a wrestling in prayer over issues that we do not understand, do not want, do not desire—and yet can make the confession that God knows better than we do.
An angel helps him, strengthens him. There are angels that protect God’s people in their time of need. And he, being still in agony, prays yet more earnestly help. Such is his trauma that he sweats blood: This is a medical condition known as “hematidrosis.” We know that individuals facing extreme trauma—battle, execution, etc.—can in rare cases experience blood mixing with their sweat. The text here faithfully records what medical science now knows is on rare instances possible. Jesus is in severe distress.
But look how his disciples cannot even stay awake during his hour of trial (22:45), not because they do not care, but because of their sorrow. Sometimes extreme emotional grief can make us exhausted, as it did for the disciples. But Jesus knows that in such instances even sleep is not the answer; prayer is the only solution to avoid the temptations that come with such suffering and trial (22:46). When we are in trauma, let us seek God in prayer—even before we simply seek rest and recuperation. Abide in him and we will find the renewal we need.
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