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MATTHEW 26 (ESV)
30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 31 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 33 Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” 35 Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.
36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
- With these last chapters of Matthew, we enter the Christian’s holy of holies. We witness with a deep awe again the death and the resurrection of our Lord. Jesus predicted His imminent death as Judas plotted with the chief priests to betray Him. During a final meal Jesus instituted Communion, and predicted Peter’s denial. Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, where He was arrested and taken before the Jewish high court. Peter did deny his Lord.
- Here recorded three times of Jesus’ prayer. It clearly portrayed Jesus wrestling with God’s will and then finally accepting it. It started with Jesus asking if it is possible for the cup (referring to God’s judgment expressed in and by the cross) to be removed from Him. Jesus’ cup was not so much the physical torment He was about to experience, as it was the awful prospect of taking on Himself the sin of humankind. At that prospect, He said, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” (v38) The next two times of prayer He says, “If this cannot … your will be done” (v42). In all cases, Jesus addresses God in the most intimate terms as “My Father” (vv39, 42).
- The disciples could not understand, or even stay awake to share the awful loneliness with Him. Jesus then said to the disciples, “Watch andpray … The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (v42)
- Meditate on Christ’s agony and share in His suffering. Quietly sing this Taize song:
Stay with me, remain here with me
watch and pray, watch and pray. www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkivkORaeJA
Prayer & Journaling:
On your prayer journal, as you listen to God, write down a few thoughts, questions, words, names, drawings, or anything that has come to your mind during this time.