And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” (Mark 14:32-34 ESV).
All of us have experienced those times in our lives when we felt abandoned or misunderstood. It is at these times that we are tempted to question the will of God. After all, if God really is sovereign, why would he allow such suffering to continue to plague his people?
I have heard many explanations, though I must confess the least palatable is expressed something like: “It is so that we can minister to others.” While experience does make us empathetic with others, I sometimes think it would be OK if I were a little less knowledgeable about the sufferings of others. Can’t we just read about it in a book! Well, the answer to that is “no.”
the wonder of the gospels sharing this experience of Jesus with us comes from an understanding of how Jesus didn’t skip the hard stuff. And, there is a very important reason for that. The writer of Hebrews tells us,
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV).
It is interesting that the very word Gethsemane means “olive press.” Olives were pressed there to make oil, and truly, Jesus was being pressed from all sides that He might bring life to us. I don’t think we can even begin to fathom what He was going through. It brought about our salvation. Because of what Jesus went through at Gethsemane and ultimately at the cross, we can call upon His name. Though it was an unfathomably painful, horrific transition, it was necessary for the ultimate goal of what was accomplished.
Maybe you are at a crisis point in your life right now. It is your personal “olive press.” You feel abandoned and misunderstood. You feel unsettled. Jesus knows. Would you let the Lord choose for you? Would you be willing to say, “Lord, I am submitting my will to yours. Not my will, but yours be done”? You will not regret making that decision.
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