top of page

Mark 14:32-42

Lesson Focus

Jesus is deeply anxious about doing the work of his Father. Because we get anxious about doing the work of the Father, too, Jesus encourages us to pray for strength to do the will of the Father.


Lesson Outcomes

Through this lesson, students should:

  1. Recognize the emphasis that Mark is placing on Jesus’ humanity.

  2. Understand that Jesus’ prayer is a model for us as we pray.

  3. Be encouraged to pray “not what I want, but what you want.”


Catching Up on the Story

Jesus and his disciples have just celebrated the Passover meal together. The identity of the one who will betray Jesus to the religious authorities has been revealed. In this setting, Jesus begins to instruct his followers on how to remember the events that will soon take place. The Lord’s Supper re-imagines and re-interprets the Passover meal so that it becomes a remembrance of what God will do through Jesus.   


The meal ends, and they travel to the Mount of Olives, which is outside the city. The disciples will soon abandon Jesus. They will be scattered like sheep when the shepherd is attacked. They are not to fear; they will be gathered back together. Peter, for his part, wants to hear no talk about desertion. Not only will Peter abandon Jesus, but he will also deny him three times! The most trying part of Jesus’ ministry is just ahead. If he is to be faithful, he will need to spend some time in prayer.   


The Text

Jesus and the disciples make their way to the Mount of Olives and, more specifically, to Gethsemane. Only John, in his gospel, refers to Gethsemane as a garden. The name itself, however, has its roots in the Hebrew and Aramaic word for “oil press.”  It’s plausible to assume that the place Gethsemane was, in fact, a garden, and more specifically, a garden for olive trees. It was common at the time for an oil press to be located within the grounds of an olive garden (France, 581).


The group enters the garden, but Jesus only wants to take Peter, James, and John deeper into the garden with him. At this point, Mark gives us a group of three words describing Jesus’ physical, emotional, and spiritual state. The first, ekthambeo, means someone becomes excessively affected by emotions, either fear or wonder. The NRSV and NIV both translate it as “distressed.”   The NIV, more appropriately, adds the modifier “greatly.” This is the only time in the gospels where this word is linked to Jesus. As it is used in extra-biblical sources, the word is often associated with the fear or dread that happens before an impending emergency (Kittle, Bromiley, and Friedrich, 4). Jesus’ trial and crucifixion are close on the horizon, and Jesus is afraid.


The second word follows closely after ekthambeo. Ademoneo is translated as “agitated” (NRSV) and “troubled” (NIV). Both translations are rather weak in comparison to the force of the Greek, which means to become subject to extreme mental or spiritual anguish, at times even to the point of losing one’s composure. Not only is Jesus afraid, but he is also physically showing signs that the imminent crisis has him quite rattled. 


Finally, Mark states that Jesus is “deeply grieved, even unto death.”  The NIV has the better translation while more literally following the Greek, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.”  In Jesus, a deep grief and sorrow has consumed him over the events that must now take place. The “my soul” portion of the quote possibly references Psalm 42:5 and 43:5.  


      Why are you cast down, O my soul,

and why are you disquieted within me?