“They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled.
“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:32-36).
Whenever I read about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, something puzzles me. How could the Son of God, “being in very nature God” (Philippians 2:6), show such human frailty? How could he be overwhelmed with sorrow? How could his flesh and spirit seemingly struggle against one another, as he faced suffering in order for God’s will to be done?
I am struck by how human he is. Then I realize – Jesus not only shows us what God is like, but what a God-dependant man in a fallen world is supposed to be like. When we look at Jesus, we see man’s full potential, if not for sin. We see what it is like to have perfect communion with God. We see a loving relationship with fellow man. We see dependence on the Holy Spirit and submission to God’s will. And yes, we see frailty, struggle, and the full range of emotions from overflowing joy to overwhelming sorrow.
The humanity of Jesus gives us hope. Why? Because he shows what a life yielded to God and filled with the Holy Spirit is like. And that same Spirit of God is available to you and me today because of what Jesus has done. That same sweet communion through Spirit-led prayer and dwelling in God’s Word is possible for us too. That same power to resist the devil, using the Word of God, is available to you and me. That same power to obey God in the midst of struggling is available to each of us today.
This year we have been talking about the picture of a disciple and growing in our relationship with God, with God’s people and God’s world. It need not be something that is overly complicated or abstract. Not if we look to Jesus for our example and empowerment.
Jesus said to those who would be his disciples, “Come, follow me. And I will make you fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17). In effect, he was saying “Do as I do.” You say you can’t? Jesus knows. He says, let me help you, allow me to make you into what you are meant to be.
As we spend time with him, following his footsteps as his disciples, we learn from him and become more like him. Will we struggle and stumble along the way? Will our spirit be willing but our flesh weak? Will we be tempted to give up? Yes, we will. Jesus knows – and yet he calls us.
Jesus does more than just empathize with our struggles, He helps us to overcome them. Through Him we have the all-sufficient grace that we need each day to be His disciples, following in His footsteps, saying “not our will but God’s be done”.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16).
By Jan Choo, Assistant Pastor