Mark 14:32 “They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray. He took Peter, James, and John along with Him and began to be DEEPLY distressed and troubled. My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” He said to them. Stay here and keep watch.” Jesus wanted the disciples to stay with Him and share His burden. Sadly, they fell asleep and left Him alone in His DEEP distress.
We are all encouraged to go DEEPER with the Lord. I have been asking myself; What does this mean? and How do we do it? I searched the scriptures and found DEEP is used at least 131 times in the Bible. It is used as a noun, referring to the ocean, as in “the deep”, and as a measurement such as deep spring, deep well, deep underground. Obviously, this is not what it means for us.
Jesus was DEEPLY distressed as He prayed. Deep in Scripture often refers to emotions. In Genesis the Lord was DEEPLY troubled that He had made man. (Genesis 6:6), Joseph was DEEPLY moved by his brothers, (Genesis 43:30), Hannah prayed in DEEP anguish (I Samuel 1:10) Isaiah speaks of God’s DEEP compassion for His people.
We remember Jesus’ physical suffering and death. But the agony and pain He experienced in His body on the cross was only part of what He fulfilled. Isaiah 53:3,4 “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely, He took our infirmities and carried our sorrows.”
Can you hear His grief when He asks His three dearest friends; “Could you not keep watch for one hour?” Can you feel His sorrow when He says to Judas; “Are you betraying the Son of man with a kiss?” Can you see the sadness in His eyes when He looked at Peter after the rooster crowed for the third time? Finally, can you hear His utter anguish when He cries out in a loud voice; “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
Interestingly, before His garden prayer, Judas’ betrayal, Peter’s denial, and being forsaken by the Father…before all these events…at the Last Supper, He said to the disciples in Luke 22:15 “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” He was not dreading this Passover. He was eagerly desiring to share it with them. Why? What was so special about it? We know He begged the Father to remove the cup of suffering in Gethsemane, so we know He did not want to suffer. The clue we need is found in the rest of the verse. Luke 22:15 “For I tell you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom comes.” Hebrews 12:2 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the Father.”
It was joy that kept Him going. The next time Jesus shares the fruit of the vine will be at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb! When we break bread and take the cup, we do not just remember the Last Supper, we look ahead to the Supper to come!
If we are to go deep with Jesus, we need to be people who have ears to hear not just what Jesus said then, but what He says today. We need to have eyes to see, not just what He did then, but what He is doing now. Most of all, we need soft hearts that feel what He felt as well as what He feels now.
Paul prays it well in Ephesians 3:17, 18 “I pray that you being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide, and long, and high and DEEP is the love of Christ.” We are the joy set before Him and He loves us DEEPLY.