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Matthew Lesson 9 - 26:36-46

Lesson 9 - Matthew 26:36-46

LAST WEEK (Mt. 26:17-30):  We covered the establishment of the Last Supper on the eve of Passover before Jesus' arrest, trial, and crucifixion.  What were the main points of application that we took away from that lesson?  APPLICATION: 

  1. The Lord's Supper is how we remember what Jesus did for us.  As we eat the bread, we should remember how Jesus was broken, pierced, and beaten with stripes for our redemption; and as we drink the cup, we should remember that His blood was poured-out for us on Calvary.
  2. The first Passover created a new nation, redeeming God's people from the bondage of slavery in Egypt; with the Last Supper, Christ introduced a new Passover that created a new people-a people united by redemption in Christ who remember and trust the sacrifice He made for us.
  3. The Baptist Faith and Message (SBC), at page 14, states:  "The Lord's Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church, through partaking of the bread and fruit of the vine, memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming

THIS WEEK:  In a lesson entitled "Do I have the Strength?," we see and hear Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane as He is preparing to face arrest, humiliation, agonizing pain, and death on the cross.  But as we move into the lesson, ask yourself these two questions:  (1) Do we see Jesus being shaped by the events surrounding Him or do we see Him shaping these events as they unfold?   (2) As Jesus prayed in the Garden, what was the most difficult trial He faced? 

Read Matthew 26:36-39 - Prayer in Deep Distress 

36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, "Sit here, while I go over there and pray." 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me." 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will."

  • "a place called Gethsemane" (v.36a) - this garden was located just east of the Temple Mount, across the Brook Kidron, on the lower slopes of the Mount of Olives.  Surrounded by ancient olives tress, the name meant "olive press," denoting a place where local olives were crushed for their oil.  Ironically, the Son of God would be crushed here, too.
  • "Sit here" (v.36b) -  Jesus often retreated alone for private prayer.  Here, He stationed most of His disciples in one place while he walked deeper into the garden.
  • "Peter and the two sons of Zebedee" (v.37a) - Jesus took Peter, James, and John further with Him.  These three had witnessed him at the Transfiguration (Mt. 17:1ff) and had seen and heard things about His identity that none of the other disciples had witnessed. 
  • "sorrowful and troubled" (v.37b) - The Greek word for sorrowful, lupeō, means to feel deep distress.  Jesus certainly had reason to be greatly distressed at that time, in part, from knowing the physical agony waiting for Him at the cross.   Jesus' humanity wasn't immune to feelings.
  • "soul is very sorrowful, even to death" (v. 38a) - This is the Greek word perilupos, for which "very sorrowful" is at best a weak translation for a Greek expression meant to convey violent emotional distress and torment.  Far more than His approaching physical agony, Jesus was anguished at the spiritual horror awaiting Him on the cross, where He would stand in the place of guilty sinners and receive the spiritual punishment all sinners deserve; Jesus went to His death knowing it was His Father's will that He face death completely alone, separated from God.

Note:  According to Lk. 22:43, God the Father sent an angel to minister to Him in the Garden.

  • "watch with Me" (v.38b) - Jesus wanted the spiritual and moral fellowship of His closest friends, and He asked Peter, James, and John to stay near Him and remain awake.  And this would be true of any of us in a time of despair and shows Jesus us the human side of Jesus. 
  • "He fell on His face and prayed" (v.39a) - Here, in a posture of abject humility in prayer, we see Jesus laying His life before His Father in complete honesty and surrender.
  • "if it be possible" - (v.39b1) - Of course, there is a sense in which all things are possible with God (Mt. 19:26); yet, this is true only so far because there are things morally impossible for God, e.g., impossible for God to sin, to lie, to break a promise, etc.; and it was not morally possible for God alone to atone for sin and redeem lost humanity apart from providing the perfect sacrifice Jesus was preparing for at Gethsemane.
  • "let this cup pass from Me" (v.39b2) - The "cup" didn't represent death; Jesus was unafraid of death.  The cup represented judgment; it was filled with the wrath of God for the sin of mankind.  Jesus would become, in a manner of speaking, an enemy of God, who would be judged and forced to drink the cup of the Father's righteous wrath so that we, mankind, would not have to drink from that cup.  This, not torture and death, was Jesus' greatest trial.
  • "nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will" (v.39c) - Here, we see Jesus come to a point of decision at Gethsemane.  It wasn't that he had not decided nor consented before this time, but now He had achieved a unique point of decision.  While He drank the cup on the cross at Calvary, He decided once and for all to drink it at Gethsemane.   The struggle of the cross was won at prayer in Gethsemane.

Comment:  Jesus' struggle at Gethsemane-the place of crushing-has an important position in fulfilling God's plan of redemption.  If Jesus had failed here, He would have failed at the cross.  His success in the Garden made the victory at the cross possible.

Read Matthew 26:40-43 - Jesus wins the battle of prayer while the disciples sleep

40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, "So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." 42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, "My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done." 43 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 

  • "came...found them sleeping" (v. 40a) - Jesus paused from His praying and came to Peter, James, and John.  He probably wanted to share His inner distress with them so they could pray with Him, to give and receive encouragement, but He found them sleeping.
  • "to Peter, 'So you could not watch with Me one hour?" (v. 40b) - Jesus probably rebuked Peter because he was the de facto leader of the group, the one expected to set the example.  The verb "watch," Gr. grēgoreō, means not only staying physically awake but also being spiritually vigilant.  Peter failed on both counts. 
  • "that you may not enter temptation" (v. 41a) - Jesus meant this as a warning for what he knew was coming.  Earnest, steadfast prayer-the kind Jesus was engaged in--could keep them from giving in to the temptation they would soon face.  The nature of the temptation is not identified but could have been the temptation to abandon Him or deny they were His followers.
  • "the spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak" (v.41b) - This often heard verse speaks of good intentions-an inner desire to do the right thing-then failing to follow through.  Ever done that?  "Flesh is weak" refers to our inherent sin natures to forget, procrastinate, or simply blow something off.  Here, Jesus shows us that prayer is the key to obedience.
  • "second time" (v.42a) - Leaving the three, Jesus prayed again.  This time He did not ask if another way of providing salvation was possible.
  • "unless I drink it, your will be done" (v.42b) - This wording-"unless"-strongly implies that Jesus accepted that only one way was possible, i.e., drinking the cup of wrath, taking on the sin of mankind and with it, separation from God-in order to be the propitiation, the acceptable substitute.
  • "found them sleeping...their eyes were heavy" (v.42) - After His second prayer session, which probably lasted an hour or more, Jesus found them sleeping again.  "Eyes were heavy" suggests they were truly done-in.  Lk. 22:45 remarks the disciples were truly exhausted from their grief what was impending.

Read Matthew 26:44-46 - Realizing the Moment

44 So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, "Sleep and take your rest later on.  See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand."

  • "prayed for a third time, saying the same words" (v.44) - None of the Gospels report the specific words Jesus prayed, but "the same words" indicate that He repeated His readiness and resolve to carry out the Father's will.  In this, we may say that Jesus was "prayed-up" and ready for what He would soon face.  This is the perfect model for how we should face any trial, armed and ready out of fervent prayer.
  • "take your rest later...the hour is at hand" (v.45a) - Jesus awakened and roused the disciples to action.  "Hour is at hand" meant that it was time for Him to complete God's sovereign plan of salvation-to redeem mankind. 
  • "Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners" (v.45b) - Jesus knew that Judas, His "betrayer," and those who would arrest Him (i.e., sinners = Jewish religious authorities who conspired to arrest Him) were on the way. 
  • "Rise, let us be going" (v. 46) - This command did not mean an effort to escape but signified a determined advance into danger rather than retreat.  Remember, Jesus could have run and escaped the agony awaiting Him at the cross.  But instead He rose to meet Judas and His accusers.  He was in complete control of all events. 


  1. Prayer is not a natural, human instinct. Real, gut-wrenching, persistent prayer is one of the single most difficult disciplines of the Christian walk. We are so easily tempted to face the struggles and needs of life within the capacity of our own resources instead of leaning on God. 

  2. The truth and application of this lesson resides in the power of effective prayer, with Christ Himself as our model.  Like Jesus, each of us should have a private place, free of outside distractions-our own Garden of Gethsemane-in which to pray to God in complete humility and surrender. 

  3. Like Jesus, we should pray "not as I will, but as the Father wills."  Sometimes we pray and God says "yes"; sometimes we pray and God says "no"; sometimes we pray and God says "not yet"; and sometimes we pray and God answers by giving us more than we asked for!

  4. Like Jesus, we should pray with persistence.  In the lesson, Jesus made the same request to God three times.  The truth is that repeated prayer can be consistent with steadfast faith.  We have faith that God hears our prayers and will answer them according to His timing and purposes. 
  5. Like Jesus, we need to pray often and try to keep our prayers simple and direct.  It is important for us to have daily fellowship with the Father, giving Him thanksgiving and praise, and offering our petitions for ourselves, our families, our friends, our church, and our nation.

  6. Like Jesus, life can and will present us with trials that are beyond our capacity alone.   If Jesus needed to pray in the Garden in order to face the cross, what makes us think we can endure the trials of life any other way?  " When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit".  Ps. 34:17-18.  "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."  Phil. 4:6.