Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."
Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked Peter. "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."
He went away a second time and prayed, "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done."
When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!" Matthew 26:39-46
At perhaps the most agonizing moment of Jesus’ life, he needed the support of the disciples. Even though He had come to earth with eyes wide open concerning His mission, the reality was almost too much to bear. As much as He desired to enlist His friends in this lament, Gethsemane was the starting point of a path that He had to walk alone.
Sure it would have been great to have the support and comfort of His companions, but they weren’t available to Him. Whether it was a very late night or they just couldn’t comprehend the weightiness of the matter, even Jesus’ inner circle of Peter, James and John couldn’t hang with Him.
There alone with the Father in the garden, Jesus makes an impassioned plea, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." Jesus wasn’t trying to abort His mission at this point. His will wasn’t necessarily opposed to the Father’s will. He speaks with surrender. Considering the physical suffering of the cross, the emotional suffering for His people, and the spiritual suffering of separation from the Father, Jesus desired one last assurance before the arrest took place.
Jesus’ second prayer reaffirms His commitment to His mission: "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done." The events that will in moments transpire are completely unavoidable if people are ever to be reconciled to God. Jesus wakes His disciples up in time for the arrest.
When we face trouble, it’s a blessing to have another person by our side. But, it’s also easy to depend on the other person and avoid seeking God about the problem. No one likes to go down any painful path alone. But, loneliness will lead us to the One who can answer our prayer. Even if the answer is to walk in obedience to our mission here on this earth, we have assurance that it’s God’s answer.
What are you facing these days that even the closest people around you don’t seem to understand? Most of us are overdriving our headlights emotionally. We simply can’t take on much more. But, there is One, our Father, who has the capacity to listen and to direct us. He never sleeps. He is never checked out. He is always available.