Mark 14:32-52 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. In His human nature, how did Jesus feel when He knew He would face the cross? See Mark 14:33-34 (printed below)

Then he took Peter and James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and very troubled. (34) He said to them, My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow, even to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch. (Mark 14:33-34)

We are told that Jesus “began to be deeply distressed and very troubled.” He told His disciples that His soul was “overwhelmed with sorrow, even to the point of death.”

2. Why do you think Jesus shared His feelings with His disciples? What does He ask them to do? See Mark 14:34 (printed above under question #1)

Jesus shared with His disciples the agony of His soul so that they might realize the suffering He was undergoing. Furthermore, as a truly human being, Jesus felt a need to share His burden with His friends. Jesus asks His disciples to stay with Him and keep watch. He is asking for their supporting presence, similar to the initial support Job’s friends gave him (cp. Job 2:12-13).

3. How do the disciples respond to Jesus’ request? See Mark 14:37-41 (printed below) Why does Jesus especially single out Peter when He addresses His disciples?

Then he returned and found them sleeping. He said to Peter, Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not keep watch for one hour? (38) Keep watch and pray, so that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (39) Again he went away and prayed, speaking the same words. (40) Then again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know how to answer him. (41) He came the third time and said to them, Continue sleeping and resting, the matter has been decided, the hour has come. Look, the Son of man is about to be betrayed into the hands of sinners. (Mark 14:37-41)

Each time Jesus returns from offering prayer to His Father, He finds His disciples sleeping. As His words in verse 38b indicate, they are humanly incapable of supporting Him in His hour of intense trial. Jesus especially addresses Peter because it was he who so confidently affirmed that he would stand beside his Lord. Jesus is pointing out Peter’s weakness and the need for Peter to do what Jesus is now doing, namely, praying to the heavenly Father for the grace to withstand temptation and successfully undergo trial (cp. verse 38).

4. Compare and contrast Jesus’ prayer (Mark 14:35-36 printed below) with the prayer of Hezekiah recorded in Isaiah 38:1-5 and (printed below).

Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. (36) He said, Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Take this cup away from me. However, not what I will, but what you will. (Mark 14:35-36)

In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him and said, This is what Jehovah says, Put your affairs in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover. (2) Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to Jehovah, (3) saying, O Jehovah, I beg you, remember how I have sincerely walked before you and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your sight. And Hezekiah wept bitterly. (4) Then the word of Jehovah came to Isaiah, saying, (5) Go back and tell Hezekiah, This is what Jehovah, the God of your father David, says, I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Listen; I will add fifteen years to your life. (Isaiah 38:1-5)

Both our Lord and King Hezekiah were deeply grieved when they faced their hour of death. Both requested to be delivered from the fate that awaited them. But in contrast to Hezekiah, who appears to have insisted on having his own way, our Lord Jesus submitted to His Father’s will.

5. What can we learn from Jesus’ prayer in the garden of Gethsemane? Note especially Mark 14:36 (printed above under question #4)

Jesus, by His example, teaches us that it is legitimate to pray that God would provide us with an “alternative route” and would allow us to avoid the encounter with trial, if it is possible. But, having made that request, we must go on to say with our Lord, “Not my will, but your will be done.” In other words, we must accept God’s will, submit to it, and trust in His grace to bring us through the trial.