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The Life of Christ: Jesus in Gethsemane

Luke 22:39-71

Jesus and His disciples were no strangers to the Garden of Gethsemane. They frequented both the Mount of Olives and the Garden at its base. But this event the night before His death is the only time the Gospels record the group going there. In fact, only Matthew and Mark mention the name “Gethsemane,” which comes from the Hebrew phrase “oil press,” obviously meaning olive oil with its location at the base of a large olive grove.

Gethsemane is a holy moment between the the Passover Meal (Last Supper) and Jesus’ arrest and trials. It is literally the calm before the storm, but only Jesus sees the storm. The rest of the disciples (Judas is away hatching his plot) are still struggling to understand the future Jesus described many times: His betrayal, rejection, scourging, execution, burial and resurrection.

This episode focuses on a contrast between the heart of Jesus and the heart of the disciples. This is made clear by Jesus’ repeated warning to pray against temptation. Jesus’ model prayer “Not my will, but Yours be done” is a brilliantly succinct definition of faith in many ways. It stands in stark contrast to the disciples, who respond with anger, fear and denial. Peter strikes Malchus’ ear, every one of the disciples flee and then Peter denies that he knows Jesus at all. The adversary of the church, the devil, is equally pleased with any of these three responses. All the while, the heart of God stands high above this contrast of hearts below. His plan, although still inconceivable to the disciples and the Jewish leaders, is to save the nation and any, including Gentiles, who place their faith in Jesus by offering Him up as a substitutionary sacrifice for sin. He must die. This cost God everything. His heart of sacrifice and grace, with Jesus’ heart of willing faith, is the standard to which we assess the heart of the disciples - and by extension, your own heart.

The heart of faith is the abandonment of your plan for God’s plan - even when, or especially when, God’s plan isn’t fully known or understood. I might add, and even most assuredly when you believe your plan to be perfect.

Family Discussion Questions:
  1. When have you felt the most stressed out in your life?
  2. How do you usually respond to stress? (think both inside/inwardly and outside/outwardly toward others)
  3. Why do you think Jesus went to the garden of Gethsemane “often” with His disciples?
  4. Reread Jesus’ short prayer in Luke 22:42. Discuss what you think the prayer means.
  5. What’s the hardest thing about prayer?
  6. How do the disciples react to Jesus’ arrest? (HINT: Identify in the story their anger, fear and denial - discuss these)
  7. How can you fight these responses in your own heart and keep the kind of faith that Jesus demonstrated in His prayer? Discuss.

Small Group Discussion Questions:
  1. When have you felt the most stressed out in your life? What has been the single hardest thing about 2020 for you?
  2. What is most interesting or striking to you about the Gethsemane scene in Luke 22 or its parallels in the other gospels? Why?
  3. Discuss with your group what Jesus meant by “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from me.”
  4. Discuss with your group the last part of Jesus’ prayer, “But not my will, but Yours be done.”
  5. How can you incorporate that prayer and its heart into your everyday life? Is there a specific place or challenge right now in which this prayer is appropriate?
  6. Discuss the alternate paths we see in the disciples: anger, fear, denial. How do these responses thwart the work of faith?
  7. Review some of the stories and persons in Hebrews 11. Notice the introductory phrase for each one is “by faith.” What were the circumstances behind each act of faith mentioned? Do you see parallels to Jesus’ Gethsemane prayer?
  8. Identify three things that you will apply to your heart and life in the coming week. Share with your group.
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