Lesson Twenty One


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Memory Verse: Matthew 26:41
Further Study: Matthew 26:31-46; Mark 14:27-42; Luke 22:31-46; John 15:1-18:1; The Desire of Ages, pp. 673-694; The Bible Story, vol. 9, pp. 73-77

My mom fell in a grocery store and broke her hip. This resulted in surgery, a hospital stay, and rehab. When she arrived home, all seemed well, but within a few weeks, her personality changed. She was atypically snappy, irritable, and, in general, out of sorts. It made it hard to deal with her with any enthusiasm. It was only later it was discovered that her hip surgery site had become infected. She had been in pain but hadn’t let us know. The pain affected her ability to deal with those around her.

The last Thursday evening of Jesus’ life was spent in the Upper Room with His disciples and then in Gethsemane. The location of Gethsemane isn’t exactly known, but there is general agreement that it was about a half mile to a mile from the Jerusalem wall. The walk there that night may have taken Jesus and His disciples (minus Judas) about 20 minutes. On the way Jesus taught His disciples (John 15:1-17:26), but as He neared the garden, Jesus became quiet, withdrawn, and appeared to be in some type of physical pain. 

Jesus became quiet, withdrawn, and appeared to be in some type of physical pain.

Once in the garden, Jesus withdrew to pray by Himself with a few disciples nearby. His agony and distress continued as the weight of sin shut Him away from His Father. But what I find so amazing is that all the while Jesus is enduring incredible suffering, more than we could bear, He was perpetually thinking of others.

I count 10 times (you might count more) between when He left the Upper Room until the mob came with His betrayer that Jesus specifically thought of others despite His own distress. Even at a time when He could be excused for thinking only of Himself, He had others on His mind, including us.

He had others on His mind, including us.

Once my mom received the treatment she needed, the pain lessened, and she became her old self again. I hold no offense toward her, but instead feel a tad guilty for thinking less than happy thoughts about her behavior. Yet her situation in how she dealt with her pain was the first thing I thought of when thinking about Jesus in Gethsemane. She is certainly not alone in her experience. How often do we, when feeling tired, in pain, sick, or distressed, become irritated with others? We snap, scold, or ignore all while internally justifying that we are excused because of our circumstances.

But we are called to be like Jesus. Perhaps our lesson this week is to understand how Jesus was able to think of others more than Himself during a time of taunts, torture, death, and separation from God. 

We are sinners and while not an excuse, there are those of us right now who are having Gethsemane-like experiences. It’s dark or depressing, it’s pain or grief, or more, and God may feel very far away. But let us pray for the strength to lift our heads, see those around us, and extend what love we can offer them. Then as we model Jesus, with His help, we will be renewed.

Digging Deeper 

These excerpts from The Desire of Ages, reveal some of what Jesus was experiencing that evening:

“As they approached the garden, the disciples had marked the change that came over their Master. Never before had they seen Him so utterly sad and silent. As He proceeded, this strange sadness deepened; yet they dared not question Him as to the cause. His form swayed as if He were about to fall. Upon reaching the garden, the disciples looked anxiously for His usual place of retirement, that their Master might rest. Every step that He now took was with labored effort. He groaned aloud, as if suffering under the pressure of a terrible burden. Twice His companions supported Him, or He would have fallen to the earth” (p. 685).

“The worlds unfallen and the heavenly angels had watched with intense interest as the conflict drew to its close. Satan and his confederacy of evil, the legions of apostasy, watched intently this great crisis in the work of redemption. The powers of good and evil waited to see what answer would come to Christ’s thrice-repeated prayer. Angels had longed to bring relief to the divine sufferer, but this might not be. No way of escape was found for the Son of God. In this awful crisis, when everything was at stake, when the mysterious cup trembled in the hand of the sufferer, the heavens opened, a light shone forth amid the stormy darkness of the crisis hour, and the mighty angel who stands in God’s presence, occupying the position from which Satan fell, came to the side of Christ. The angel came not to take the cup from Christ’s hand, but to strengthen Him to drink it, with the assurance of the Father’s love. He came to give power to the divine-human suppliant. He pointed Him to the open heavens, telling Him of the souls that would be saved as the result of His sufferings. He assured Him that His Father is greater and more powerful than Satan, that His death would result in the utter discomfiture of Satan, and that the kingdom of this world would be given to the saints of the Most High. He told Him that He would see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied, for He would see a multitude of the human race saved, eternally saved” (p. 693).

“The sleeping disciples had been suddenly awakened by the light surrounding the Saviour. They saw the angel bending over their prostrate Master. They saw him lift the Saviour’s head upon his bosom, and point toward heaven. They heard his voice, like sweetest music, speaking words of comfort and hope. The disciples recalled the scene upon the mount of transfiguration. They remembered the glory that in the temple had encircled Jesus, and the voice of God that spoke from the cloud. Now that same glory was again revealed, and they had no further fear for their Master. He was under the care of God; a mighty angel had been sent to protect Him. Again the disciples in their weariness yield to the strange stupor that overpowers them. Again Jesus finds them sleeping” (p. 694).


Making it Real

Have you ever gone through an experience where you felt all alone? In what way did Jesus handle what felt like an abandonment of His friends as well as His Father? How can you understand and apply this to yourself?


Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being a grandmother to two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus, and a granddaughter, who’s delighting everyone with her smiles. She is blessed to have all three living close by, continually bringing joy and delight.


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