IT’S TEMPTING TO skip to the end of the Gethsemane story, because there in the final moments of the garden narrative, when Jesus was arrested, we often start thinking about the Lord’s Supper.
But please don’t do that now. Don’t rush straight to the arrest. Back up and then slow down as you consider the text. Back up, not just to any meal, but to the time of the last meal Jesus ate with His disciples (Mat. 26:2ff; John 13ff).
In a manner of speaking, this was the condemned Man’s last meal before His execution, and what exactly was Jesus doing on this occasion with His disciples? Do a little contextual reading and you discover that He was talking about, among other things, and practicing PRAYER.
Watch John’s account:
“And whatever you ask in My name (PRAYER—mb), that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (14:13).
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire (PRAYER—mb), and it shall be done for you” (15:7).
“And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name (PRAYER—mb) He will give you” (17:23).
Mark in your Bible: Jesus spoke about prayer 3x.
Then later, while the group was actually eating, Matthew records, “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed (PRAYER—mb) and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’ Then He took the cup, and gave thanks (PRAYER—mb), and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you’” (Mat. 26:26-27).
Mark in your Bible: Jesus practiced prayer 2x.
But this redundant emphasis upon prayer didn’t stop at this meal prior to Gethsemane. After the group split up, Jesus took Peter, James and John to the garden where He continued His prayer vigil. There He started praying again—ironically offering the same thing over and over.
“He went a little father and fell on His face, and PRAYED, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Mat. 26:39).
“Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, ‘What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and PRAY, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (v. 40).
“Again, a second time, He went away and PRAYED, saying, ‘O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.’ And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy” (vv. 42-43).
“So He left them, went away again, and PRAYED the third time, saying the same words…” (v. 44).
Mark in your Bible: Jesus prayed 3x and mentioned prayer 1x.
If you underscore the times that the idea of, or exact mention of, prayer is used in both John and Matthew, you are hit by a veritable inspired, machine-gun barrage on this subject (8x).
What was Jesus urging, and what was He practicing before, during and after the Passover/Lord’s Supper meal?
But now, recalling our introduction, go to the garden where the arrest was about to take place.
Suddenly, there is a scuffle—a fuss.
Peter, in his rashness and impetuosity, whips out his blade and cuts of Malchus’ ear (cf. Mat. 26:51; Mark 14:47; Luke 23:50; John 18:10 for details).
Jesus immediately, miraculously healed the stricken servant and then told Peter and his peers to stop the violence.
Now mull over exactly what Jesus said:
“Or do you think that I cannot now PRAY to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels” (Mat. 26:53)?
Mark in your Bible: Jesus did NOT pray.
Please don’t miss this!
- What was Jesus talking to the disciples about around the time of that last meal? He was talking about PRAYER (i.e., asking of the Father).
- What was Jesus doing at that last meal? He was PRAYING (i.e., thanking the Father).
- What was Jesus doing after that meal while in the garden? He was PRAYING over and over again (asking His Father).
Jesus’ life and ministry was saturated in prayer. And yet–here in the garden, WHEN HE COULD HAVE PRAYED ONCE AGAIN, WHEN HE COULD HAVE summoned the host of heaven to stop the cross, WHEN HE COULD HAVE PETITIONED His Father’s intervention, He didn’t pray.
He could have, but He didn’t.
The one prayer that Jesus could have uttered, that would have effectively stopped Calvary in its tracks, never left His lips.
And why didn’t He pray that prayer?
Because He had already prayed, “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will…”