Peter, James, and John were invited to watch and listen as Jesus entered the sacred space of His private prayers. Before leaving His disciples, Jesus spoke softly. “ ‘Sit here while I pray… I am deeply grieved to the point of death” (Mark 14:32-34).
A few feet away, the Sinless Son of God “fell to the ground, and prayed” (Mark 14:35).
Prostrating Himself, “an angel from heaven appeared to him, strengthening him. Being in anguish, he prayed more fervently, and his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:43-44).
The disciples heard the Master pray, “Abba, Father! All things are possible for you. Take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36). The Master uttered these same words three times. After finding the disciples asleep, “once again he went away and prayed, saying the same thing” (Mark 14:39). And a few minutes later, “He went away again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more” (Matthew 26:44).
The disciples recognized the intimacy. “Abba, Father!” … Daddy! … Papa!
Jesus acknowledged, “all things are possible for you.” Yet, was there another righteous way to atone for the sins of the sin-sick creation? Was there another one who could pay the price? Was there an alternative? Another one to drink the cup?
The cup? Was Jesus worried about the physical pain of being whipped mercilessly by the Roman executioner? Of carrying His cross? Of hanging naked before a mocking crowd? Of crucifixion’s unthinkable cruelty? Of death?
The cup wasn’t physical, but spiritual. The cup was filled with God’s Holy wrath. In eternity-past, in the Triune Councils of Heaven, it had been determined that the Sinless One would become “sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus must become sin. He must carry the shame on His sinless shoulders. The Holy Son of God must bleed that sinners might be freed!
Thankfully, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree; so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24). Willingly, “He endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
Jesus knew that He was “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). In fact, He was “the Lamb who was slain … before the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8, ESV). As He bowed in the Garden, Jesus prayed, “Not what I will, but what you will!”
Gethsemane was “hell” for Jesus, but I am so thankful He went through it. You see, if there is no Gethsemane, there is no Calvary. It there is no Calvary, there can be no empty tomb. And if there is no empty tomb, there is only hell for us.