There is a lot to notice and reflect on, so just a couple of verses this week.
This is the third recorded occasion within Mark that Jesus prays – each time at crucial points and with a determination to continue with and fulfil his mission (1:35; 6:46).
It’s fascinating that Peter, James and John are invited to witness Jesus’ deep angst and troubled prayer. Peter had not imagined a Messiah who would be anything else but God’s agent of Israel’s liberation and has just confidently pledged undying loyalty unto death; James and John had asked for places of honour in the kingdom to come and also promised they could drink the cup Jesus was to drink (10:38-40).
Here they begin to witness close up the real cost of Jesus’ mission and are told to stay vigilant and keep watch. Everything had been leading up to this.
Mark’s description of Jesus’ emotional state is exceptionally strong. He seeks his Father in prayer but experiences only distress and angst. The full implications of the physical and spiritual horror to come are inexorably drawing together. The failure of the disciples to keep watch leaves Jesus on his own to keep going to the very end.
For Peter, James and John – and all who follow Jesus today – Gethsemene would in hindsight reveal the depths of the Son’s self-giving mission and call them to follow his example.
32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”