‘Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering..he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities’
The passover meal and symbols introduced in the Jerusalem meal re-emerge with a cup of suffering and judgement, which Jesus will drink.
He eventually tastes this bitter cup on the cross, but it is in a little grove of olives that he weights up the sin-burden and considers being ‘crushed for our iniquities’, much as olive trees reach their full potential for oil production in the crushing of their fruit and stones. Jesus body and spirit will be crushed to enable the oil of the Spirit to be poured out on the disciples, and the enormity of that is not lost on him: ‘He began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them’
The disciples, meanwhile, cannot stay awake, and though they are not friends who betray Jesus, nevertheless they are friends who cannot stand firm beside him. They cannot stand firm beside him. They don’t have the sticking power of prayer, even though he asked them specifically to ‘watch and pray’
As JC Ryle comments, we would do well to be sober-minded in our application to this passage: ‘Watching without praying is self-conceit. Praying without watching is fanaticism. The man who knows his own weakness, and knowing it, both watches and prays, is the man that will be held up and not allowed to fall.’
Before they know it, the time has passed: ‘Enough! The hour has come. Look, the son of Man is delivered in to the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!
Are you feeling anxious, panicky or crushed? It could be that you, too, are battling in prayer. Share your anxieties with a brother or sister in Christ.