32 Then they came to a place named Gethsemane, and He told His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be deeply distressed and horrified. 34 Then He said to them, “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow—to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake.” 35 Then He went a little farther, fell to the ground, and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. 36 And He said, “Abba, Father! All things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” 37 Then He came and found them sleeping. “Simon, are you sleeping?” He asked Peter. “Couldn’t you stay awake one hour? 38 Stay awake and pray so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 Once again He went away and prayed, saying the same thing. 40 And He came again and found them sleeping, because they could not keep their eyes open. They did not know what to say to Him. 41 Then He came a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The time has come. Look, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Get up; let’s go! See—My betrayer is near.” — Mark 14:32-42
Jesus Experienced Sorrow & Distress
by Dennis Worley
Co-Author: Karla Worley
What does it mean for us, when we are suffering or struggling, that Jesus was human? The writer of Hebrews tells us it means a lot:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)
In today’s passage, we see Jesus being tested to the point of great sorrow and distress. At the beginning of His ministry, after His baptism, Jesus faced heavy testing by Satan in the wilderness. The enemy tempted Him repeatedly to take the easy way out, rather than fulfilling the purpose for which God sent Him. Jesus resisted the temptation, but at the end of the accounts, the Gospel writers tell us, “Satan left Him for a more opportune time.”
Here is that opportunity. In the last moments before Jesus is to do what He came for, Satan hammers Him all the way to the cross. In these moments, so alone and so overcome, we can learn some things about how to face our own hour of distress and temptation by looking at what Jesus, the man, says and does when He is struggling:
- He takes a group of close friends with Him.
- He asks them to pray for Him, to keep watch over Him during this struggle.
- He confesses His feelings to them – how overwhelmed He is.
- He keeps going back to His friends for company and prayers.
- He knows that the only way to resist temptation is to pray.
In this passage, we see that Jesus knew human agony and fear. Jesus wrestled with temptation and struggled to obey God’s will. He turned to prayer in the face of temptation. He pleaded with God intimately, like a trusting child, calling God, “Daddy.” He asked for another way forward, but He surrendered to God’s way.
Prayer centers on finding God’s will and doing it. Jesus went to His Father to find His way and the strength to walk it. Now He sits at God’s right hand, hearing our cries for help and strength.
Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time. (Hebrews 4:16)
- How can you keep someone company in their distress? Jesus’ friends let Him down; they fell asleep on the job. Yet He kept returning to them for support, letting us know how important it is to have companionship in hard times. How you can you be present with someone in distress? How can you encourage them? How can you walk beside them? Who do you know who might need you to be this friend right now?
- What does Jesus say and do in this passage that teaches you how to pray with someone who is wresting to know and obey God’s will?
- What is your personal struggle right now? Who do you need to ask for company and prayer? Are you willing to share your fears and feelings with them so that they can prayer for you and with you?
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.