Why no prayer in the garden John?

One of my favorite stories in any of the four Gospels is Luke’s account of Jesus’ prayer in the garden of Gethsemane. In it, the humanity of Jesus is beautifully on display. You see, even though Jesus made it clear that he had come down from heaven, not to do his own will, but the will of the Father (John 6:38); the fact that he had a human nature meant that, at times, doing the Father’s will would be incredibly difficult. We see this as he prays…

  • Luke 22:42—Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.

We see it even more as Luke tells us…

  • Luke 22:43-44—And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

In seeing this, we are reminded that…

  • Hebrews 4:15—…We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

What glorious truth this is! Knowing that we have such a great high priest truly causes us to draw near to the throne of grace with confidence! (Hebrews 4:25)

Yet, this week I am preparing to preach on, not Luke’s account of Gethsemane, but John’s. And John gives us NONE of these glorious details. In fact, he doesn’t even mention the fact that Jesus prayed! So the question that faced me is, “Why?” And as I began reading John’s account of the garden of Gethsemane, the answer became quite clear. You see, while the other Gospel writers focus on the humble humanity of Christ in the garden, John is in awe of Christ’s omnipotent deity on display in the garden.

As a large, intimidating, and well-armed group of Roman soldiers and Jewish officers approach the garden, the Lord Jesus rises to meet them. He takes control of the situation immediately by being the first to speak as he asks, “Whom do you seek?” (John 18:4) Of course they respond that they are looking for Jesus of Nazareth. Then we see that Jesus’ seemingly ordinary response of “I am he” (John 18:5) has an extraordinary effect on those to whom he is speaking. John tells us that…

  • John 18:6When Jesus said to them, I am he, they drew back and fell to the ground.

So what happened here? Could it be that these men recognized that Jesus was using the divine title of “I am” and were so shocked that it caused them to fall back? Perhaps, but many of the men were Roman soldiers and it seems doubtful that they would be familiar with the various names and titles for God. Could it be that the Jewish officers among them heard this and were so awestruck upon hearing the divine title of “I am” that they fell back and in so doing caused the whole group to fall all over themselves? Perhaps, but when Jesus took the divine title of “I am” upon himself in John 8:58, the Jewish leaders weren’t awestruck; rather they immediately picked up rocks to stone him for blaspheming. So then, what is it then that caused these men to draw back and fall to the ground? I think John wants us to see that it was nothing less than the power of Christ’s deity that overwhelmed them. He wants us to be in awe that a mere word from the mouth of Jesus has the power to cause a host of men fall in an instant. He wants us to understand that Jesus was in no way overpowered by these men, but rather he, who could easily overpower them with a mere word, allowed himself to be taken so that Isaiah’s prophecy might be fulfilled…

  • Isaiah 53:7like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.

So this then is why he omits the Lord’s prayer in the garden.  Because his his goal is simply to reveal Christ’s divine omnipotence that we would…

  • John 20:31—believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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