Jesus Before the Cross

Jesus in the Garden

For me, one of the most impactful periods of Jesus’ life on earth was his time in the Garden of Gethsemane at the end of his earthly ministry.  We see Jesus seeking seclusion with his father in heaven, being strengthened for what is about to happen.  This scene reveals the gravity of what Jesus is about to undertake.  Jesus knew that one final act had to be done. No one else could substitute for him, and this act had to be precisely as his father directed.  It was time for Jesus to pay the ultimate price for the sins of the world.  This act involved Jesus voluntarily submitting himself to horrific suffering and ultimately death by crucifixion.  In his final hours, Jesus retreated to a place of solitude to be with his father in prayer.

The Obedience of Jesus.  Jesus knew the suffering and pain he would soon experience. He had come down from heaven to testify to the truth, minister to the poor, sick, and lame, and teach all of humanity, through his words and actions, how to live a life pleasing and honoring to God.  He had lived out his thirty plus years in obedience to the direction of his father in heaven relinquishing the privileges of his deity to embrace a life of poverty and persecution at the hands of those who stood against him.  Now, what was required of him was the most awesome responsibility his father had ever given to anyone in heaven or on earth – to save humanity through the most painful and gruesome death ever.  We see in these final days, Jesus continuing to demonstrate absolute obedience to his father.

“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine. 43 Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. 44 He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.” Luke 22:42-44

The Humanity of Jesus.  In a demonstration of his humanity, Jesus asks his father if there is any other way, but above all, he asks that his father’s will be done, not his own.  I take great solace in this scene, as Jesus shows that even he, fully God and fully man, experienced times of agony and difficulty in life. He also shows us where to turn during these times, to our father in heaven who loves us and will guide our steps.  We know we have a savior who understands our challenges, setbacks and weaknesses in life.  We read that Jesus was in agony, praying more earnestly to his father, even to the point of sweating great drops of blood down his face.  The pressure on Jesus during this time was immense, but nevertheless, he persisted determined to finish the work his father had given to him.

“This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testing we do, yet he did not sin.” Hebrews 4:15

The Humility of Jesus.  At a time such as this, it would seem quite natural for one to be focused on their own problems.  When we experience crisis in our own life, our awareness of the needs of others tend to recede. Jesus reveals a very different nature.  Jesus surrendered himself to his father, wanting only to bring glory to his father and to complete the work his father had given him to offer eternal life to mankind.  His own pain and suffering was secondary, and would not interfere with his primary aim to bring glory to his father and eternal life to us.

“After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.” John 17: 1-5

The Love of Jesus. Jesus also spent his final hours praying for all of humanity that would come into this world after him. He prayed for all who would come to faith and believe in Jesus, that they would be one with the father, and that the love the father has for Jesus would also be in them.  Imagine that, Jesus in his final hours before facing a horrendous and brutal death, wanted to be in prayer, praying for me, praying for you, and all who believe in him.

20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. 22 “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. 24 Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began! 25 “O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. 26 I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.”” John 17: 20-26

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

Our Response to Jesus. Seeing Jesus in the garden raises the question – how should we respond to Jesus?  It is easy to underappreciate the magnitude of what Jesus has done for us, and to correspondingly offer an underwhelming response. Maybe we acknowledge him in our life, attend church, and throw some money in the offering basket. We read that Jesus brought his disciples to be near him during his time in the garden, just a stone’s throw away.  He asked them to pray, but they fell asleep.  Perhaps this was recorded to warn us that we too may not give proper value to Jesus and his work on the cross. It seems to me, our response should be nothing less than offering everything back to God; our lives, our time, our treasure, our talents – everything.  This starts with loving Jesus by offering our obedience to him as Lord.

“If you love me, obey my commandments.” John 14:15

2 thoughts on “Jesus Before the Cross

  1. Ana Zeledon

    I’m glad I read this at the start of my day. There are way too many distractions in the world right now. Thank you for reminding me how much Jesus loves me, enough to die for me.
    Wishing you and the family a wonderful Resurrection Sunday!


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