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Summary: In this “Dark Night of the Soul” we see the relationship between prayer and action through three things: Through 1) His Sorrow Matthew 26:36–38), 2) His Supplication (Matthew 26:39–45a), and 3) His Strength (Matthew 26:45b-46).

Matthew 26:36-46. [36] Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, "Sit here, while I go over there and pray." [37] And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. [38] Then he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me." [39] And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will." [40] And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, "So, could you not watch with me one hour? [41] Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." [42] Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, "My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done." [43] And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. [44] So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. [45] Then he came to the disciples and said to them, "Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. [46] Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand." (ESV)

After years of searching, studies, meetings, reports, submissions, and a ton of other work, our efforts to begin construction of a new worship building are coming to fruition. We’ve wondered about the timing, obstacles, work and delays in getting this going. But God has a purpose in the timing. He has a purpose in the striving and His plan is becoming evident in putting things in motion.

In Matthew 26, we see the divine sovereign hand moving plans into motion. The People of God have waited thousands of years to see the Messiah come and deliver his people. But on the eve the most significant event in history coming to fruition, we see the great anguish of the saviour. For the first time ever in history, the eternal son of God will be cut off from His Father. He will face great physical and emotional distress in being abandoned by those who were closest to Him. On this eve of His crucifixion, He experiences “The Dark Night of the Soul”.

People right now are experiencing sickness, loss, isolation and pain and wonder where is God? We wonder if He is listening or if He even cares. As we pray for lost loved ones and recurring problems that have lasted decades for some, we wonder if there is any point. Here in Matthew 26, ever and always the teacher, Jesus used even this struggle with the enemy in the garden the night before the cross to teach the disciples and every future believer a lesson about facing severe trial. The Lord not only was preparing Himself for the cross but also, by His example, preparing His followers for the crosses He calls them to bear in His name (Matt. 16:24).

The record in Matthew 26:36-46, most likely records the events near midnight on the Thursday of Passover week in A.D 33 (or perhaps 30). Jesus’ three years of ministry were completed. He had preached His last public sermon and performed His last miracle. He also had celebrated the last Passover with His disciples. But infinitely more important than that, He had come to be the last and ultimate Passover Lamb, the perfect and only sacrifice for the sins of His people. Matthew 26:36–46 reveals three aspects of Jesus’ striving in the garden. In this “Dark Night of the Soul” we see the relationship between prayer and action through three things: Through 1) His Sorrow Matthew 26:36–38), 2) His Supplication (Matthew 26:39–45a), and 3) His Strength (Matthew 26:45b-46).

The relationship between prayer & action is first seen through Christ’s Dark Night of the Soul in:

1) His Sorrow (Matthew 26:36–38)

Matthew 26:36-38. [36] Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, "Sit here, while I go over there and pray." [37] And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. [38] Then he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me." (ESV)

After the eleven disciples echoed Peter’s boast and insisted on their loyalty to Jesus even to the point of dying with Him if necessary (v 35), they then moved with Him to a place on the Mount of Olives called Gethsemane. Although He had not announced in advance where He was going, “Jesus had often met there with His disciples,” and it was that fact that enabled Judas to find Him so easily later that night (John 18:2). The name Gethsemane means “olive press,” and the garden probably belonged to a believer who allowed Jesus to use it as a place of retreat and prayer.

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