Essay / Theology

In the Garden Alone

My church hosted a great event last week, an Easter walk with a multi-station dramatic telling of the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. It helped set up our congregational experience of Holy Week, and the church also produced and handed out two small devotional booklets for daily readings to do through the week. One booklet was for reading with younger children, and one was appropriate for older kids and adults. Here’s the link for the pdf of the latter booklet

The daily meditations were each written by a different author in the congregation.  I got to write the one for Wednesday, a few thoughts on Luke 22. Here’s the text.

“Pray that you do not enter into temptation,” Jesus warned his disciples on this night in the garden. He had to shake them awake to tell them, because while he was praying with all his might, they kept drifting into sleep. It wasn’t that they were bored. It was more that they were depressed or scared: the Bible says that they were falling asleep “from sorrow.” The closer he got to the cross, the more obvious it became that this was something Jesus would have to do all alone, with absolutely no human help, in order to absolutely help the human race. His long night of earnest prayer was between him and his heavenly Father. His followers weren’t there with him in that place of prayer; he was carrying his burden and our burden to God, all alone.

We sometimes think that Jesus couldn’t have really been tempted, or at least that he couldn’t have felt temptation as intensely as we do: after all, he was God. But what happened here in the garden proves that he felt it deeply. Though the Son of God is fully divine, he was also fully human, and fully entered into temptation. If you think about it, Jesus actually felt and experienced more of the burden of temptation than we ever do. When faced with a relentless temptation, we always give up, give in, or find an escape (maybe by falling asleep!). Jesus didn’t ever, ever surrender to temptation though, and he didn’t escape from the cost of the cross. He felt the full weight of it all the way, all alone.



1. Is this story about how Jesus is our example of how to pray, or is it about something Jesus does for us because we can’t do it?
2. Why do you think Jesus didn’t let the disciples sleep?
3. What temptation do you have that requires earnest prayer? How does it make you feel to know that Jesus prayed earnestly and is now interceding for you (Romans 8)?
4. Hebrews 5 tells us that Jesus offered up prayers with loud cries and groanings and that he was heard by God. How do we know that God heard our high priest’s prayer?


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