The stress weighed heavily. His mission was about to reach its monstrous conclusion. It was why He came, but oh, how hard it was. Prophecies were reaching their fulfilment and the eternal plan was coming together for one spectacular confrontation. The enemy’s forces gathered and anxiety filled the air. A cross awaited, and He knew it. Jesus prepared.
“Sit here until I have prayed (Mark 14:32-42).” He took a small, select group of His apostles with Him, but He would face this alone. Distressed and troubled, He left them all behind, walked away and collapsed. Reality was harsh and painful. There was a terrible penalty to be paid, and He was about to pay it. There was no assistance and no other option. He asked, but His time had come. It would be brutal. The answer to His prayer was, “No.” It was His hour and no one else’s.
We might think that a “No” answer to our prayers is a troublesome indicator. We could assume that it reveals a problem in our relationship with God. Is He not listening? Does He not hear me when I’m pleading? “…He offered both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the one able to save Him from death…(Hebrews 5:7).” No one ever made a more passionate plea with the Father nor with more certainty of being heard, “He was heard because of His piety.” Yet, the response was negative.
The relationship was rock solid. “Abba! Father!” It had been that way forever, literally, united in character and purpose from times eternal. There had never been a single second in which they had been out of harmony. That would change. Sin does that, rips apart the inseparable. Soon, that paternal plea would turn into, “Why have you forsaken me (Mark 15:34)?” The shock waves would stretch from Golgotha to God’s heart.
Jesus had great confidence and even greater submission. “All things are possible for You.” He was not haunted by doubts. He knew the power of His Father but was also aware of His ultimate design. He was pulled in two directions. What lay ahead was dreadful, and He pleaded for a change of plans. None would be forthcoming, and He yielded to that.
His disciples dozed as He begged. He suffered, struggled and stressed as they took a nap. They could not maintain their focus for an hour. How quickly we drift into dangerous waters. The Lord’s strategy in dealing with sin requires attention. Flesh is weak, but we often cave in to its inclinations. The spirit is willing, but we are soon overcome if we do not join Jesus in prayer.
The one who was betraying Him lingered. A few apostles slept. Jesus prayed. In the plan of God, we’re all someplace in this garden picture: praying for the Lord’s will to be done, losing focus or joining the enemy. Which are we?