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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood


The Agony of Gethsemane

May 25, 2014

Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him. (Mark 14:39,40, NIV)

Mark writes a condensed Gospel. On occasion, we need to turn to Matthew and Luke to find fuller detail. Such is the case with our Lord’s agony in Gethsemane. The disciples had fallen asleep twice when Mark notes their “eyes were heavy” and “they did not know what to say.”

Two details are filled in by Matthew and Luke regarding what happened while the disciples slept. First, Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done” (Matthew 26:42; see also Luke 22:42). Second, Luke adds a detail found nowhere else: “An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:43,44).

You and I have never prayed so intensely that our sweat was as drops of blood. It is vital that we remember Jesus did this for us. If He didn’t drink the cup of taking our sins upon Him, we don’t have eternal life. Our sins become a permanent barrier from God because there is simply no way to expunge them. Only the blood of Jesus can wash away our sin. His death means life for us.

We can never imitate the sacrifice of Jesus because His role is unique. But we can follow His example. Do we intercede with passion for others who do not know Jesus?

The agony of Jesus in Gethsemane was so great that the Father sent an angel to strengthen Him. Notice — the angel’s mission was not to deliver Jesus, but to help Him endure.

Too often in our lives, we only want deliverance. We prefer to be released rather than strengthened. We may not have an angel to strengthen us, but we do have the Holy Spirit who comes for that very purpose. The apostle Paul put it this way, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Ephesians 3:16,17, emphasis added).

Paul wrote from a prison cell. God had not granted him release, but the Spirit strengthened him in his fierce hour of trial, even as an angel strengthened Jesus. In our own Gethsemanes (which pale in comparison to what Jesus went through), let’s also pray, “Thy will be done,” with expectation that the Spirit will strengthen us.

The disciples had no response to Jesus when He returned to them the second time. Even the normally talkative Peter was silent. They seem unaware of the danger just around the corner.

There are times in our lives when we are embarrassed and ashamed that we have not done what the Lord asked. We have no defense for doing the opposite of what He wanted. We have no response when our conduct is bad. But the Lord knows why — our eyes are also heavy. We fell spiritually asleep when we should have been wide-awake — and, like the disciples, we fell asleep more than once.

Even though the disciples failed, Jesus did not write them off. Nor does He write us off. We may fall asleep, but He never does. He ever lives to make intercession for us.

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, help me to stay awake spiritually. Strengthen me by Your Spirit.

DR. GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.



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