Luke 22:39-46 – Jesus Prays on the Mount of Olives (Feb. 4th)

Message Notes:  Pray, Don’t Sleep Feb 4

OPENING DISCUSSION:

Spend time with your group members talking about their understanding of Christ’s time in the garden. Why do they think he went there to pray? Also, why do they think that he was asking for God to be spared from the ordeal? In today’s passage, we see that Luke provides a more detailed account of the what and why of Christ’s time on the Mount of Olives. 

BIG PICTURE/MAIN IDEA:

Synopsis:  Jesus dreads what is to come, but he nevertheless accepts his Father’s will and prays earnestly for strength for him and his disciples. 

With 22:39 we have a clear transition from the first part of the passion narrative, dealing with the Lord’s Supper (22:1–38), to the second part, which involves the events surrounding Jesus’ trial and crucifixion (22:39–23:56). After the Lord’s Supper and Jesus’ farewell discourse, the scene changes to the Mount of Olives (cf. Mark 14:26; Matt 26:30, 36; John 18:1).Thereafter Jerusalem is center stage. This section contains fourteen accounts beginning with Jesus’ prayer (22:39–46) and proceeding to Jesus’ arrest (22:47–53), trial (22:54–23:49), and burial (23:50–56).

There may be deep significance to the fact that in some of His final hours Jesus faced temptation (Luke 22:46) in a garden. Man fell into sin because of temptation in a garden (Gen. 3). And man’s deliverance from sin comes about in spite of further temptation in a garden. Jesus, the “last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45), did not fall into temptation but followed the will of God which the first Adam failed to do.

KEY POINTS IN THE PASSAGE:

  • In prayer, Jesus asks to be spared the ordeal, but he puts his Father’s will above his own desire.
  • The disciples sleep when they should be praying.

WHAT DOES IT SAY?

READ Luke 22:39-46 and answer the questions below:

Where did Jesus go in v. 39? Why did he do this? Who went with him?

What did Jesus tell the disciples to do when they got there?

What did Jesus do while they were praying?

What did Jesus ask for in v. 42?

What happened afterward, according to v. 43?

What happened to Jesus as he continued to pray?

What were the disciples doing when Jesus returned to them? What did he say?

Luke says the place was the Mount of Olives. Matthew and Mark refer to the place as Gethsemane, which means “olive press.” The “garden” was a grove of olive trees on the Mount of Olives (John 18:1, 3). Jesus … prayed fervently for the trial to pass, but He submitted Himself to His Father. Because the disciples slept, Jesus was alone praying and being buffeted by the temptation to forsake the Father’s plan, which was that the Son must go to death and bear the sins of the whole world. The words of His prayer showed that He was concerned not with His own interests but with the interests of the Father (Luke 22:42). Only Luke recorded that an angel ministered to Jesus in the garden (v. 43). Jesus was in anguish with His sweat being like drops of blood falling to the ground. Luke may have been alluding to God’s words to Adam that he would earn his food by the sweat of his brow (Gen. 3:19). Jesus found His disciples … asleep, exhausted from sorrow. The disciples were most depressed because of Jesus’ teaching that He would die. They were not only in physical danger, which was bound to come on them but also they may have faced spiritual danger as the temptation raged in the garden. Twice Jesus told them to pray that they would not fall into temptation (vv. 40, 46).

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Use the information from the text and the commentary notes below to help discern responses to the following questions. 

  • Why do you think Jesus told the disciples to pray earnestly not to enter into temptation?
  • Why do you think Jesus asked for “this cup to pass”? What does that tell us about him? (Think about the humanity of Christ)  
  • Why do you think the disciples fell asleep? How do you think it made Jesus feel?

Now, as the disciples face Satan’s sifting (22:31), they need to pray so that their faith will not fail. Now that the hour has come, they especially need to arm themselves with prayer. Only then will they be able to persevere (8:15) and be found faithful (18:8). As in the prayer Jesus taught them as disciples, they need to pray “Lead us not into temptation” (11:4). Their lack of prayer at this crucial time would help Luke’s readers understand Peter’s failure in the temptation that was to follow (22:54–62). Luke’s readers were again reminded that Jesus’ suffering was due to God’s plan. Jesus’ prayer (22:42) clearly reveals that despite his own personal desire, he submitted himself to the divine will, which involved the necessity of his death (cf. 22:37). His prayer also serves as a pattern for Luke’s readers who might have to walk in the footsteps of their Lord.

Historical and Cultural Background

The place of Jesus’s prayer and arrest on the Mount of Olives is named by Matthew and Mark as “Gethsemane” (“oil press”) and is described by John as a “garden” on the other side of the Kidron Valley. The traditional site of Gethsemane in olive groves on the western slope of the Mount of Olives fits the description of all four Gospels, and it was within the area designated for temporary residents during Passover week. Luke has made it clear in 21:37 that he was where Jesus and the disciples regularly spent the night (note “as usual” in 22:39 and “the place” in v. 40) That was what Judas was relying on.

HOW DOES IT APPLY?

What did you learn about how Jesus viewed prayer? What can we learn from this passage about prayer and temptation? 

How can you begin to pray for God to protect you from temptation? 

Take some time to think about the attitude of the disciples? Do you think they understood the gravity of the situation? Since we know the end of the story, how can we learn from the behavior of the disciples as it relates to focusing on prayer? 

COMMENTARY NOTES:

22:39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives. Literally, Going out he proceeded. Jesus proceeded on the way to the cross just as predicted. For the expression “as usual” cf. 1:9; 2:42; for Jesus’ practice of going to the Mount of Olives and spending the night there with his disciples, cf. 21:37. This was the needed information that Judas supplied to the chief priests and teachers of the law by which he betrayed Jesus. Compare 22:2, 4 with 20:19 and 19:47–48. For the “Mount of Olives”. And his disciples followed him. In 22:14 the Twelve are called apostles. Here they are called “disciples” as in Luke’s source (cf. Mark 14:32). Judas has left the group and will only appear again in 22:47. As in 5:11, 27–28; 9:23, 49 the disciples “follow” Jesus. Even as they followed him in this time of suffering, so some of them would follow him in death (cf. Acts 7:54–8:1; 12:1–5).

22:40 On reaching the place, he said to them. Although Luke did not mention the garden of Gethsemane, his readers may be aware of “the place” where Jesus was betrayed. Compare John 18:2. Pray that you will not. As in Luke 14:7; 18:1, 9; 19:11 the theme of what follows is made clear at the beginning. For similar teachings cf. 1 Cor 16:13; Eph 6:18; 1 Thess 5:6; 1 Pet 5:8. Fall into temptation. Literally, enter not into temptation. For the meaning of this phrase, see comments on 11:4. As in 11:4 the lack of the article before “temptation” should be noted. The prayer involves not so much a concern not to fall in the time of “The Temptation” at the end of history (cf. Matt 24:15–31; Rev 3:10) but rather not to fall in the daily encounters with temptation. This is made even clearer by the context, for Luke had in mind Peter’s temptation in the immediate future (22:31–34, 54–62).

22:41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw. Compare “going a little farther” (Mark 14:35; Matt 26:39). Knelt down. Compare Acts 7:60; 9:40; 20:36; 21:5.

22:42 Father. See comments on 11:2. Luke omitted the Aramaic “Abba” found in Mark 14:36. If you are willing. The substance of Jesus’ prayer for Luke is the same as Mark 14:36; Matt 26:39, but here Jesus appealed first to God’s will. Take this cup from me. For “cup” as a metaphor for Jesus’ suffering, cf. Mark 10:38–39; Matt 20:22–23. It is a metaphor here not for physical death in general but for the particular death that Jesus would suffer. Yet not my will, but yours be done. For similar examples of Jesus’ struggle in prayer, cf. John 12:27; 18:11; Heb 5:7. For similar experiences in the early church, cf. Acts 21:14.

22:43–44 Whether these verses were part of the original text of Luke is debated. Because these verses do not fit particularly well the present context and are lacking in the best manuscript tradition, they should not be regarded as part of the original Gospel of Luke.

22:45 When he rose … asleep. Compare Luke 9:32. Exhausted from sorrow. This is found only in Luke. As in 9:33e, where Luke explained Peter’s foolish remark in the earlier part of the verse, so here he sought to explain the disciples’ failure. No explanation is given for why the disciples were sorrowful. However, Luke’s readers knew why, for they were familiar with the passion story and knew what was about to take place. As for the disciples, such sayings of Jesus as 22:14–23, 31–34 are sufficient to explain their grief (cf. John 16:6, 20–22).

22:46 Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The reiteration of this command (cf. 22:40) closes the account and shows that Luke considered this its dominant theme. Compare 18:1.

Posted in Group Notes, Luke 14, Luke: A Jesus for Everyone