It was Thursday, late evening, Christ prayed. He prayed for himself, his disciples, and for all believers.
He knew it was time to set out on His journey to the cross.
The Garden of Gethsemane was on the way. This was one of Christ familiar sacred resorts for prayer ad here He lingered for an hour or two. Jesus left eight of His disciples at the outer edge of the Garden to watch.
He took three just a little farther into the Garden. Those three were his closest friends. Peter, James, and John. But the entire group, the eight and the three were all probably within eye site of each other.
Jesus told the three to sit and wait while he prays .. just a few feet away. He kneels and begins to pray. He was drawing nearer to the terrible experience of the cross and sought help He sought the comfort of light, before he passed into the darkness. You see, Jesus knew that this night would be different from all others.
He was the Son of God, but he sought strength and help in prayer and communion with His Father. Praying in Gethsemane made the darkness of Calvary less dark and less bitter.
Indeed, the battle was really fought under the olive trees that night. Because when the next ay came with its darkness and anguish of the cross, He was ready for it and met it all calmly.
There is a great lesson for us here .. The way to prepare for coming perils and sorrows is by prayer. A time spent with God will make us strong for any experiences of struggle of duty. We need to feel the grasp on the hand of Christ, and then we can endure any trouble. We should always seek the Garden .. Jesus Garden .. In Prayer, before we have to take up the cross.
This Garden meant a great deal to Jesus. Often He came here with His disciples in troublous time when His enemies were plotting His death. And he came here in brighter times to talk and listen and teach, and to just enjoy being with friends and people. He probably would set and teach the children under the tree’s and laugh, and sing, and of course pray.
All through His life He had His times for prayer. In the Garden, on mountaintops and in the desert. Sometime he spent the whole night communing with His Father. Maybe we are apt to wonder why He, the son of God, needed so much to have His time of prayer. Some time the holiest people, need prayer the most.
Some people manage to get along without much praying but it is at the expense of their spiritual life. Not feeding their souls they grow very lean. Make a habit of praying .. everyday. 5 minutes, 10, 30, hour .. whatever .. just pray.
If you don’t make it a habit, a regular, formal time and place to pray then soon things will come up, interruptions, and before long there be no prayer time at all. Make it a habit.
Jesus, as He was nearing His cross, sought strength in two ways. First .. strength in people. He wanted His disciples to be near Him, and to wait and watch with Him. But in this they failed Him.
And then he sought strength from Him Father’s. God never fails those who call upon Him in their distress. The cup did not pass from Him, but as He pleaded His agony became less, and less intense, until His cries were quieted into submissive peace. As he prayed in the Garden that evening.
As Jesus came back to the edge of the Garden were he had left the other 8 disciples he saw the torches flashing in the near distance. The blackness in the heart of Judas was drawing near … up the path toward Him.
On leaving the supper table, Judas hastened to the priest and quickly got under say with his band of soldiers and police. He knew very well where Jesus had gone. The deepest blackness of Judas heart came through when he went up to Jesus as to a dear friend, eager, and ardent, and dissed Jesus. Not once but several times … first on one cheek and then the other cheek … and then back again.
Let us remember how the reason grew in the heart of Judas, beginning in greed for money, growing into theft and falseness of life, ending at last in the blackest crime the world has ever seen.
I can picture Judas wandering about on the night after the betrayal. He comes by chance upon the workmen who have been making the cross on which Christ shall be crucified. A fire nearby throws its light full on the faces of the men who are sleeping peacefully, resting from their labor. Judas face is somewhat in the shade … on his face .. a expression of awful remorse and agony as he catches sight of the cross and the tools used in making it. The cross … which his treachery and betrayal had made possible.
But still, later … in the torments of hell. He clutches his moneybag and seems to hurry on into the night .. through the dark, burning caves of hell. First down one path, dead end … back off into the night of fiendish despair .. down another cave, running .. the path turns sharply, and as he rounds the corner, he faces the cross with Jesus hanging on it. Horrified he turns, still clutching his hag of 30 silver coins, and there again, in front of him, the cross.
The terrible story on sin is repeated over and over again. As much today as it was for Judas, whenever men sell their souls for money or for any reward … everyone pays. The whole world pays a terrible price. It is happening today .. all over the world .. Iraq .. China .. and yes also in the United States.
Jesus was not taken by surprise. He knew that was going to happen when he saw the soldiers and officers with lanterns and torches and weapons coming up to the hill toward Him. He know the meaning of the kiss from Judas. But He was not startled. He met the betrayal calmly. He stepped forward and asked the soldiers .. Whom do you seek … And he spoke up and told them He was Jesus of Nazareth .. I am He .. he said.
We must remember that Christ’s death was voluntary. He gave Himself as a sacrifice. He laid down His life for the sheep. Jesus did not forget His disciples He secured their safety. If therefore ye seek me, let these go their way. Like the Good Shepherd, He did not flee when He saw the wolf coming, leaving the sheep to be scattered and slathered, but gave His own life for the sheep.
This is just as true now … after twenty centuries … as it was that day in the Garden.
Jesus has never has lost a soul who trusted in Him. No one even has perished who took refuge in the love of Christ. His infinite power protects all who submit themselves to Him as Redeemer and Savior.
There is no power that can snatch us out of the hands of Christ. No power is greater than He … None.