Structured somewhat like an episode of the television series 24, Dawson McAllister’s 2009 book A Walk With Christ to the Cross: The Last Fourteen Hours of His Earthly Mission, is probably one of the more explicit books I’ve seen in terms of Christ’s suffering.
I picked up this book and not-so-randomly jumped to chapter three, which deals with Jesus in Gethsemane. I’ve read some rather detailed descriptions of Christ’s crucifixion — I think Chuck Swindoll has a book that is exceptionally clear on this — but considering that I was reading a chapter consisting of 90-minute window before Jesus was even arrested, nothing at all prepared me for what I read.
The chapter is based on a combination — or harmonization — of all the gospel accounts. I’d hoped to find some text from the book online, but since that wasn’t an option, and since it’s hard to excerpt bits of this chapter without missing the impact of the whole, I’ll just note a few things in bullet points:
- His friends didn’t understand His pain
- …and they were soon to abandon Him.
- The severity of what He was about to face could mean that physically, He was going in to shock.
- Jesus began to be sorrowful; emotions absolutely shot.
- Jesus became deeply distressed; He began to shudder; some believe this was to the point of a mild heart attack.
- He pressed His face to the ground and prayed, basically, “Abba Father! Is there another way?”
- He asked himself: Could He do it? Was it right to take all our sin on Him at once? Could he bear the utter hell of being forsaken by The Father? Was humankind worth the suffering?
- Nonetheless, He had to make a yes or no decision.
- He sweat drops of blood: Hematidrosis is the technical name for this condition; blood passing through the veins into the sweat glands.
- He would want to do The Father’s will, but His whole system would be shouting, “NO!”
- All these things considered, He might have died right there, but The Father sent an angel to comfort him; in some way the angel ministered to Jesus; the almighty creator of everything being comforted by a created being.
[...I have no words at this point...]
What we learn from Jesus’ time in the garden:
- Humility. If we’d walked by that garden and looked over the wall, we wouldn’t have said, “Oh, I get it…God in human form! That must be God in the flesh.” …Our first reaction would have been, “Who is this peasant Jew having a nervous breakdown?”
- Sin is no small thing to Jesus. What troubled Him deeply even to the point of death? What was it He saw in the garden? Answer: He saw sin in all its fury.
- Jesus considered us worth the suffering. Hebrews 12:2 “…Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame.”
Items in all bullet points are edited quotations from the book.