Jesus was Deeply Moved in Gethsemane

Jesus was Deeply Moved in Gethsemane

Jesus was Deeply Moved in Gethsemane.

“Then Jesus led His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane. He told them, ‘Sit here while I pray awhile.’ He took Peter, James and John with Him. An intense feeling of great horror (ekthambeo) plunged His soul into deep sorrow and agony. And He said to them, ‘My heart is overwhelmed with anguish and crushed with grief. It feels as though I’m dying. Stay here and keep watch with me.” (Mark 14:32-34, TPT).

ekthambeo (ek-tham-bay-0) = to feel overwhelming anguish; to be thrown into terror; to be thoroughly terrified; to experience profound horror.

The starting point of Christ’s Passion was right here in the Garden of Gethsemane. The word gethsemane means ‘oil press,’ and in this passage the final pressing of Jesus begins in earnest until He is out of juice and nothing is left. His profoundly intense prayer time with the Father is often called the Agony. There are many signs of Jesus’ agony that are easy to observe just by reading various translations of the three Gethsemane passages: Matthew 26:36, Mark 14:32 and Luke 22:40. In these passages, which are painful to read whether or not you love Jesus, we see that He was very distressed; that He fervently prayed as He fell on His face; that He was deeply grieved to the point of death; that He was swallowed up in sorrow; that He engaged in an anguished struggle. It is even reported in Luke that sweat fell down to the ground like drops of blood.

Medical doctors have reported, and it is well documented, that this analogy could actually be understood literally. There is a rare medical phenomenon called hematidrosis. This condition tends to happen to a person during shock or in unusually intense anxiety. The person experiencing hematidrosis actually sweat blood, when tiny capillaries in the sweat glands break, which mixes blood with sweat. In His deep emotional agony, Jesus might very well have been literally sweating blood, His blood, onto the ground of Gethsemane.

One only has to read the definition of the unusual Greek word ekthambeo to realize that Jesus wasn’t merely having an earthly panic attack. What Jesus was experiencing was acute suffering that few people have to go through. As Bible scholar and translator Dr. Brian Simmons says, “The Greek words used in these verses are unusual. The terms are extraordinarily emotional and expressive, describing the deepest feelings a person could experience.” 

It’s easy for to see what was causing Jesus such deep agony. He knew what was coming, He understood what He would soon have to experience… betrayal; arrest; severe beatings with fists and clubs; near-fatal whippings; heaps of scorn, mockery and shame; rejection by the religious authorities; considered less worthy than a murderer and terrorist; the torture of huge nails driven through hands and feet; nakedness in the sight of all when He is lifted up on the Cross; being taunted while He is dying; struggling for His last breath in tremendous pain; mourning a brief but profound disruption of the intimate union with His Father; the knowledge that His death would break the heart of His dear mother Mary. This was all going through the mind and emotions of Jesus in the Garden, but we will never be able to understand the depth of His suffering unless we are asked to duplicate His experience in martyrdom. The Father sent an angel to minister to Him in His agony. One translation suggested that Jesus himself requested an angel to come, to comfort and strengthen Him while flat on the ground in anguish.

During His unspeakable suffering in the Garden, Jesus cried out to “Abba, Father.” Abba is an Aramaic word that is a child’s affectionate term for a beloved father. It is a title that directly addresses the father in a family setting much like ‘dad’ or ‘papa.’ Abba is a word that assumes a profound personal relationship between child and father. Abba is a term that refers to God as Beloved Father, and can be a believer’s term of respect, honor, intimacy and trust for our Father in heaven. As we know, Jesus even asked us to address God as Abba in his model of what to pray in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4.

“The secret of the whole world of humanity is the love between the Father and the Son. This is at the root of it all. Upon the love between the Son and the Father hangs the whole universe.” (George MacDonald, Knowing the Risen Lord). Jesus would often probe the profound intimacy between Father and Son, relishing the mystery. The Spirit of love shared between them is eternal, and their spiritual union is boundless. The personal relationship between Father and Son has always been so intimate that somehow they are inside of each other. There is nothing in the universe that is as tightly knit together as the Father and Son. Their love for each other is the energy source for all the love in the world. Without their trinitarian love for each other, there would be no love. Human love would not exist were it not for their divine love for each other. It is in that mysterious intimacy that the Son is now calling on the Father.

Weaving together the three Gethsemane texts, the prayer of Jesus, that he repeated three times to the Father, may have looked like this: Abba Father, Papa in Heaven, I know that all things are possible for you. Could you please take this cup of suffering away from me? If this cup cannot pass away from me unless I drink it myself, your will be done above all else. It is not my will, Father, but your will be done.