They came to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James, and John with him. Distress and anguish came over him, and he said to them, “The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me. Stay here and keep watch.”
He went a little farther on, threw himself on the ground, and prayed that, if possible, he might not have to go through that time of suffering. “Father,” he prayed, “my Father! All things are possible for you. Take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet not what I want, but what you want.”
Then he returned and found the three disciples asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Weren’t you able to stay awake for even one hour?” And he said to them, “Keep watch, and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
He went away once more and prayed, saying the same words. Then he came back to the disciples and found them asleep; they could not keep their eyes open. And they did not know what to say to him.
When he came back the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come! Look, the Son of Man is now being handed over to the power of sinners. Get up, let us go. Look, here is the man who is betraying me!”
Jesus was still speaking when Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs and sent by the chief priests, the teachers of the Law, and the elders. The traitor had given the crowd a signal: “The man I kiss is the one you want. Arrest him and take him away under guard.”
As soon as Judas arrived, he went up to Jesus and said, “Teacher!” and kissed him. So they arrested Jesus and held him tight. But one of those standing there drew his sword and struck at the High Priest’s slave, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus spoke up and said to them, “Did you have to come with swords and clubs to capture me, as though I were an outlaw? Day after day I was with you teaching in the Temple, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must come true.”
Then all the disciples left him and ran away.
Mark 14:32-50 (Good News Translation)
Jesus had an inner circle. He often pulled Peter, James and John aside for special moments of teaching or insight. In this case they let him down when they fell asleep instead of praying with and for him.
The anguished prayer of Jesus gives us an important glimpse into his relationship with his Father. He earnestly prayed for one outcome but yielded to the Father’s will. In this, he followed the prescription he had offered much earlier in the Lord’s Prayer—“your will be done” (Matthew 6:10).
The kiss Judas gave Jesus was a common greeting, but also a way to identify Jesus in the darkness, amid a group of similarly dressed men—and perhaps intended as a way to keep Jesus from fleeing. John’s Gospel names Peter as the disciple who swung his sword, and that fits with the bravado Peter often showed. But, like the others, Peter eventually ran off.
What do you think you would have done in that situation?