The strong angel was used to standing in the shadows.
A spiritual being, he was usually unseen by the people who received his ministry. He waited for Jesus in the usual place, the Garden of Gethsemane, a mountainside retreat often used by Jesus and His men for a night’s rest. There would be no rest on this night.
The angel watched as the disciples followed Jesus into the garden. Their bellies were full. It was late. The trek up the mountainside wore them out. They quickly found their usual resting places and started to settle in for the night. Judas was not among them. Jesus spoke a last piece of instruction.
“Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
They were too tired to even think about praying. Jesus withdrew from them so that His prayers would not disturb them. He knelt to pray.
“Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me…”
The angel moved closer to Jesus, wondering if the Father would answer this desperate prayer. In the Garden, only the usual night sounds could be heard. In the spirit realm, neither Jesus nor the attending angel detected a reply. In a moment, Jesus broke the silence.
“…nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”
The angel stepped to Jesus and touched His shoulder. Jesus lowered His head to touch the angel’s hand. In the contact, the power of the Holy Spirit flowed from heaven to earth. With new strength, Jesus prayed all the more. Such was His effort in prayer that He began to perspire. As His effort became agony, the tiny blood vessels in his forehead broke and His perspiration flushed with blood and fell to the floor of the Garden, the first drops of so much blood that would spill this night.
Jesus arose from prayer and returned to the disciples. The angel, weeping, retreated to the shadows. He knew he must not stop the events about to unfold. Jesus, hearing the approaching guards, stirred His men awake.
“Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.”
While He still spoke, a detachment of Temple guards, led by priests who in turn were led by Judas, emerged from the shadows. Without hesitation, Judas approached Jesus and kissed Him on the cheek. For some reason the guards froze in position as Jesus responded.
“Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
Now they were sure. The guards seized Jesus. Peter drew one of the swords asking,
“Lord, shall we strike with the sword?”
Without waiting for an answer he struck off the ear of one of the guards. Before the other guards could retaliate, Jesus rebuked Peter saying,
“Permit even this.”
He reached down to the injured man and healed the ear. In view of such a miracle, the guards were hesitant to touch Him. Jesus spoke to the priests,
When I was with you daily in the temple, you did not try to seize Me. But this is your hour,
and the power of darkness.”
As the guards seized Jesus, the powerful angel held his power in check although every angelic fiber of his angelic being wanted to strike the guards and the priests and Judas but he knew this was not the plan.
It was the hour of darkness, indeed, and the long night was just beginning.
Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. When He came to the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow. Then He said to them, “Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.” And while He was still speaking, behold, a multitude; and he who was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near to Jesus to kiss Him. But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” When those around Him saw what was going to happen, they said to Him, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus answered and said, “Permit even this.” And He touched his ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests, captains of the temple, and the elders who had come to Him, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you daily in the temple, you did not try to seize Me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”
Lord Jesus, never has such love been seen on earth! Never such passion! Bearing no guilt of Your own, You took the sins of the world on Your shoulders. Faced with the bitter cup of iniquity, You drank it all. Your sleeping friends could not help You. The angel standing by could not rescue You for it was to this moment that all Your footsteps led. Thank You, Lord. Thank You, Lord.
To See the King of Heaven Fall (Gethsemne)
Words and Music by Stuart Townsend and Keith Getty
1. To see the King of heaven fall
In anguish to His knees,
The Light and Hope of all the world
Now overwhelmed with grief.
What nameless horrors must He see,
To cry out in the garden:
‘Oh, take this cup away from me!
Yet not my will but Yours
Yet not my will but Yours.’
2. To know each friend will fall away,
And heaven’s voice be still,
For hell to have its vengeful day
Upon Golgotha’s hill.
No words describe the Saviour’s plight
To be by God forsaken
Till wrath and love are satisfied,
And every sin is paid,
And every sin is paid.
3. What took Him to this wretched place,
What kept Him on this road?
His love for Adam’s curséd race,
For every broken soul.
No sin too slight to overlook,
No crime too great to carry,
All mingled in this poisoned cup,
And yet He drank it all
The Savior drank it all,
The Savior drank it all.
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved
TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.