Day 18

Jesus Prays in the Garden

from the Mark reading plan

Mark 14:17-52, Hebrews 5:7-8

BY Sharon Hodde Miller

One day while I was shopping, I walked past the stationery section and noticed a journal with this quote on its cover: “I am fearless, and therefore powerful.” The journal did not cite the source, but the quote originates from Mary Shelley’s classic novel, Frankenstein. And although the cover was cute and feminine in design, these words were spoken by Frankenstein’s monster.

For some reason I stopped and stared at the journal for quite some time. It was the kind of inspiring statement that has become ubiquitous in our culture today. But like many of our most popular affirmations, it is not actually true. The truth is, no one’s power comes from being fearless, because no one is truly fearless. To be human is to experience fear at some time or another, which is why these words could only be spoken by a non-human monster!

No, the presence of fear does not make us less powerful. It is what we do when we are afraid or distressed that either empowers or undermines us. There is no more poignant example of this principle than Jesus Himself. In verse 34, Jesus confesses to being “deeply grieved to the point of death,” begging God to remove the cup of His suffering, for it to pass from Him (v.36). And in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus is described as being so anguished that He sweats drops of blood (Luke 22:44). 

Jesus takes up His cross, but this strength does not come from the absence of grief; it comes from intimacy with the Father. Jesus chooses to spend His final hours on earth by praying to His Father, and it is this—not fearlessness—that prepares Him for death (Hebrews 5:7–8). 

In a culture of self-help mantras that are, very often, dishonest, it is important that we hold them up to the reality of God’s Word and the humanity of Christ. Fearlessness sounds like a noble goal, but it is an impossible standard to achieve, and therefore, an empty source of personal power. In Christ, we find a better gospel: we are free to be real human beings, and we are reminded of where true power lies.

If I had the chance to rewrite that journal cover, I would probably replace it with a different set of borrowed words:

“My grace is sufficient for you, 
for my power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Our power does not come from ourselves, and this is good news. Whatever you are facing, take it to the only real source of power. Take it to God in prayer. 

Post Comments (68)

68 thoughts on "Jesus Prays in the Garden"

  1. Alexis Mendibles says:


  2. Nicole Calvert says:

  3. Mercy says:

    As I read this passage, the feeling of heaviness accumulated in degrees, I braced myself to keep reading, for the floodgate of extreme suffering and distress was about to open. I never noticed the bizarre account of the young man in the linen cloth before, who got stripped when Jesus was arrested, and then he fled naked. The symbolic shame of those who abandoned the Lord is recorded here -just plain nakedness- though not too long ago they affirmed they would die with him and not deny him. In the face of death, shame seems like a better option right? In the garden of Gethsemane, the “Oil Press” at the foot of Mount Olives, the usual place where Jesus had taught great things about God’s Kingdom, and here he would be “pressed” to the extreme. And also at this place, He would ascend to Heaven in great glory. In same manner, He shall return one day.

    Many times in our walk with Jesus, we too find ourselves at the Gethsemane to be pressed and squeezed, where we agonize with loud cries and tears (the students are not greater than the Master, if they persecute Him, they too will persecute us). What do we do? PRAY. Let us draw strength from the Sufficient Grace to go forth. Though the cup may not be passed from us, rest assured that He hears us because of our reverence. When you are at your own Gethsemane, remember this ultimate example of obedience we read today. Although he was the Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered (Hebrews 5:8).

  4. Amanda Turnbull says:

    I love today’s devotion! I have a podcast and we just discussed this topic. Today was affirmation of the message God gave us to share!

  5. K Swenson says:

    “Jesus takes up his cross, but his strength doesn’t come from the absence of grief, but from intimacy with the Father.” Wow! This is powerful! Having PTSD, I sometimes equate being well with the absence of grief, but I should gain my strength from His continuous presence with me. Beautiful truth. Blessings to all of you!

  6. Jennifer Anapol says:

    Rest in his strength my sisters:)

  7. Jennifer Anapol says:

    I loved the devotional today! As someone who struggles with fear, it’s comforting to hear that Jesus was fearful before he went to the cross. It’s also comforting that I don’t have to muster up enough strength to be the person God has called me to be. Even in my weakness, God gives me strength. I may argue that we can become even more strong the weaker we feel.

  8. Sam says:

    It’s beautiful to think of Jesus singing to His Father that night despite what he knew he going face in just a short time.

    The pains of death surrounded me, and the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the LORD: “O LORD, I implore You, deliver my soul!” (Psalm 116:3-4)

    For You have delivered my soul from death, My eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living. (Psalm 116:8-9)

    You pushed me violently, that I might fall, but the LORD helped me. The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation. (Psalm 118:13-14)

    God is the LORD, and He has given us light; bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will praise You; You are my God, I will exalt You. (Psalm 118:27-28)

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