The War in the Garden: Luke 22:39-46

Focus Passage: Luke 22:39-46 (GNT)

39 Jesus left the city and went, as he usually did, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples went with him. 40 When he arrived at the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”

41 Then he went off from them about the distance of a stone’s throw and knelt down and prayed. 42 “Father,” he said, “if you will, take this cup of suffering away from me. Not my will, however, but your will be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 In great anguish he prayed even more fervently; his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

45 Rising from his prayer, he went back to the disciples and found them asleep, worn out by their grief. 46 He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you will not fall into temptation.”

Read Luke 22:39-46 in context and/or in other translations on!

During the night of Jesus’ arrest, before Judas the betrayer had arrived with the mob, Luke includes a detail about the time Jesus was praying that the gospel writers do not include. This prompts me to wonder if not all the disciples slept during the first part of that night.

Luke tells us that while Jesus was praying, “An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. In great anguish he prayed even more fervently; his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (v. 43-44)

Tradition says that Jesus experienced a condition in this event known as “hematidrosis” which is where blood mixes with one’s sweat when under extreme stress. This is very possibly what happened, but when I compared a number of translations, they all said that Jesus’ sweat was “like” drops of blood. Maybe this was because the sweat looked red from experiencing hematidrosis, or perhaps it was simply sweat that was pouring and dripping off of His face like blood running out of an open wound.

But Luke’s record of this medical condition is not the main reason why his description stands out to me. It is the presence of an angel.

There are only two times I can think of in Jesus’ ministry where an angel appears to strengthen Him. The first is following Jesus’ time in the wilderness when He was tempted, and the second time is this one recorded in Luke’s gospel. Both times Jesus has faced a pretty intense trial, and it is likely that both of these events faced some pretty intense moments of temptation.

I wonder if, like the angel came at the close of Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness, the angel came at the close of Jesus’ prayer before the last time He went to wake the disciples up. I wonder if the angel brought a last word of encouragement from God reminding Him of the reason He came. Perhaps many of those living in the first century wouldn’t be saved, but the angel may have reminded Him of the millions of people before and after the cross that Jesus would be giving His life for.

What if the angel reminded Jesus of your name while He was in the garden?

Jesus faced extreme anguish in the garden – probably even more stress and pain than the torture and the cross. The war in the garden was a war of the will, and once Jesus submitted to the plan of salvation they had put in place at the beginning of time, the angel came to remind, validate, and encourage Jesus of all those His life would be saving.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus “Reflective Bible Study” package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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