By Rev David de Bruyn
Have you ever asked yourself why the Garden of Gethsemane? Why did God include this event in the life of Christ and made sure it was recorded for us? To put it another way, what do you lose if you remove the account of Gethsemane from the Bible? What if you go straight from the last supper to the betrayal and arrest of Jesus?
Without Gethsemane you do not understand what it meant for Jesus in His own experience to become a sin bearer on the cross. You can read the crucifixion account and see what happened to Jesus, how He was treated, but you cannot understand from that account alone what was going on in the heart and emotions of Jesus. Here, in Gethsemane, is where you learn what it meant internally, spiritually, within the Triune God.
Jesus predicted His abandonment. We see this in Mark 14 v 27 - 32. Then Jesus said to them, All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night for it is written I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered, but after I have been raised I will go before you to Galilee. Jesus knew that He will face the burden of Calvary entirely alone. He knew that when it was time to be the sin bearer no one would stand with Him, no one would defend Him, no one would rescue Him, no one would own Him and speak for Him. In fact, Jesus knew that not only would Judas betray Him and Peter deny Him and the other ten forsake Him, He knew every other single strand of human society would forsake Him.
He went to pray alone and the weight of His trial brought Him physically to the ground. This King for whom demons, deformity, disease and death could be waved away with a word was physically staggering under this weight. He was so burdened He crumpled under the load. He could not even remain physically upright, so deep was the horror of what was coming. He had a perfect hatred for sin, a moral revulsion for evil, that God the Father had apparently kept from Jesus' human consciousness, the full weight of what Calvary would mean. Here it began to break upon Him like waves crashing upon a shore and He saw and knew the horror of what was coming. He would stand alone, suspended between heaven and earth as the hurricane of God's fury and holy hatred of sin came crushing down upon Him and Him alone. Not only would He lose fellowship with the Father, the Father would treat Jesus as the substitute for all sinners and all sin.
We take grace for granted. When you forget the cross, when you are unmoved by the spiritual realities of the cross and find yourself minimizing sin, giving yourself excuses to sin, you start believing a gospel of easy believism where Jesus suffers for you and you go on your merry way, indifferent, asleep as it were to what your sin cost Him. You take the Lord's Supper for granted, maybe you even skip it. A person gripped by Calvary does not lightly sin. You should be stunned by a love and a plan that would sever Jesus and God temporarily for the sake of redemption. You should see this in the light of God's desire to display His glory. You have to believe His prayer in Gethsemane was a major part of how He did it.
God had us as an unfaithful bride needing to be rescued from the flames of the justice of hell without destroying it, but God did it by the Son taking your place, experiencing God's justice, granting righteousness and life to those who believe in Him. This was the burden of Calvary. This is what Jesus faced in Gethsemane as He previewed it. This is why He prayed for the strength to go through it and did. Praise to His name.