What Did Christ Feel in the Garden of Gethsemane?
It is difficult to comprehend the physical and emotional suffering that Jesus must have experienced when He suffered for us in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is also difficult to understand why Someone so good had to go through so much pain.
The Four Gospels give us information about certain parts of Jesus’ life, yet we are often missing crucial details. All four accounts tell us that Jesus went and prayed for us in Gethsemane, and give hints of the toll it took on Him. While vague, we can piece together references and get an idea of what Jesus had to go through.
Before beginning His prayer, Jesus is recorded in Matthew to have asked Peter, James and John to watch with Him. The word for “watch” in Hebrew, shomer, has the connotation of guarding and protecting. It is written that Jesus “began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed” (Matthew 26:37 NKJV). So Jesus was literally overtaken by the timing of this event. Jesus knew what was coming and didn’t hide His emotions.
Luke recorded “(B)eing in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44 NKJV). Jesus’ struggle was so great that He bled from the all the pores of His skin. This truly is a sign of absolute distress.
Isaiah prophesied of the role of Jesus, as well as His pain.
Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:4–5).
Again, we get some small idea of the total and consuming anguish that Jesus felt for our sakes. This level of suffering was only possible for Him to survive because He was not completely mortal, being the literal Son of God.
One must ask, why did Jesus go through with this horrible task? He begged God “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me” (Matthew 26:39 NKJV).
We find the answer in Romans:
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:2-4 NKJV).
Jesus was the only One who could satisfy the Law of Justice, which demands that no sinner can enter heaven. He activated the Law of Mercy with His suffering and death, which allowed Him to be our Advocate (1 John 2:1). Through His grace, we can overcome sin and death and live in heaven with God after we die.