Garden of Gethsemane Lesson

I was asked by my bishop to share in the 5th Sunday combined lesson with Young Women and Young Men about the experience Christ had in the Garden of Gethsemane.

I was overwhelmed at the task because of the nature of the topic. It’s so close and dear to so many of us.

I began my thoughts with my experience with the Mormon Channel. I shared how much I listen to it and one day found an answer to my prayer about this talk. They were reading a book and shared this excerpt.

It was a paragraph in “Our Search for Happiness” by M Russell Ballard. He talks of a firefighter who goes into a house and saves 5 people and runs back into the house but the people told him that they were all accounted for. The firefighter tells them that he saw one more and he ran back in. Seconds later the house exploded and knew that he couldn’t have made it.

A few hours later they found his body huddled over a baby cradle and what lay inside was a baby doll unscratched.

Ballard goes on to say, “As I think about such heroism, however, I’m reminded that the most heroic act ever was performed in behalf of all mankind by the Son of God. In a very real sense, all humanity-past, present, and future- was trapped behind a wall of flame that was fueled and fanned by our own faithlessness. Sin separated mortals from God and would do so forever unless a way was found to put out the fires of sin and rescue us from ourselves. The way would not be easy, for it required the vicarious sacrifice of One who was sinless and who was willing to pay the price of sin for all of humanity, now and forever. Thankfully, the most significant role was heroically played by Jesus Christ on two different stages in ancient Jerusalem. The first act was performed quietly, on bended knee in the Garden of Gethsemane.”

This Easter season we not only want you to remember his resurrection but also his suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane.

I then opened up the scriptural account of this experience and we read and shared together.

Matthew 26: 36-46
Luke 22: 39-44

Jesus Christ was utterly alone in the Garden and it had to be so. He calls out “O my Father” in the scriptures. He pled and had great drops of blood.

We however will not suffer alone. He walks with us and will be there to yield us up and carry our burdens if we ask for his help.

“He’s been there done that” as I like to think of it when I am in the midst of my struggles, weaknesses and trials.

I had them recite the 1st verse of “I Stand All Amazed” that verse is so powerful and if we talk heed to its counsel it will be wonderful.

The last story is from an Easter packet we just delivered as a Young Women group to various sisters in our ward. We gave them each an Easter tree along with 5 eggs to hang on their tree and a message.

I loved this story and wanted to share it with them. It’s called “The Divinity of Jesus Christ” by Elder Orson F Whitney.

One night I dreamed—if dream it may be called—that I was in the Garden of Gethsemane, a witness of the Savior’s agony. I saw Him as plainly as I see this congregation. I stood behind a tree in the foreground, where I could see without being seen. Jesus, with Peter, James, and John, came through a little wicket gate at my right. Leaving the three Apostles there, after telling them to kneel and pray, He passed over to the other side, where He also knelt and prayed. It was the same prayer with which we are all familiar: “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” ([see] Matthew 26:36–44 [Matt. 26:36–44]; Mark 14:32–41Luke 22:42).

As He prayed the tears streamed down His face, which was toward me. I was so moved at the sight that I wept also, out of pure sympathy with His great sorrow. My whole heart went out to Him. I loved Him with all my soul and longed to be with Him as I longed for nothing else.

Presently He arose and walked to where the Apostles were kneeling—fast asleep! He shook them gently, awoke them, and in a tone of tender reproach, untinctured by the least suggestion of anger or scolding, asked them if they could not watch with Him one hour. There He was, with the weight of the world’s sin upon His shoulders, with the pangs of every man, woman, and child shooting through His sensitive soul—and they could not watch with Him one poor hour!

Returning to His place, He prayed again and then went back and found them again sleeping. Again He awoke them, admonished them, and returned and prayed as before. Three times this happened, until I was perfectly familiar with His appearance—face, form, and movements. He was of noble stature and of majestic mien—not at all the weak, effeminate being that some painters have portrayed—a very God among men, yet as meek and lowly as a little child.

All at once the circumstance seemed to change, the scene remaining just the same. Instead of before, it was after the Crucifixion, and the Savior, with those three Apostles, now stood together in a group at my left. They were about to depart and ascend into heaven. I could endure it no longer. I ran out from behind the tree, fell at His feet, clasped Him around the knees, and begged Him to take me with Him.

I shall never forget the kind and gentle manner in which He stooped and raised me up and embraced me. It was so vivid, so real, that I felt the very warmth of His bosom against which I rested. Then He said: “No, my son; these have finished their work, and they may go with me, but you must stay and finish yours.” Still I clung to Him. Gazing up into His face—for He was taller than I—I besought Him most earnestly: “Well, promise me that I will come to You at the last.” He smiled sweetly and tenderly and replied: “That will depend entirely upon yourself.” I awoke with a sob in my throat, and it was morning.