Who Heard the Prayer of Gethsemane?
Who heard the prayer in Gethsemane?
Reading through the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane’s Garden struck my attention. A prayer which showed unwillingness and submission from the son to the father, but what struck me the most was the confusion of who heard the prayer and how was it recorded in three of the four above gospels?
After the last supper Jesus predicts Judas’ betrayal as well as Peter’s denial. Jesus takes his disciples and goes to Gethsemane. He requests from his disciples to stay while he goes further away to pray taking with him only Peter, James and John in which he then asks them to keep watch as he moves further away from them in order to pray as he felt sorrowful and troubled.
36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” 35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
What was the distance Jesus moved away from the disciples (Peter, James and John)? The Gospel of Luke provides us with an estimation.
39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 HE WITHDREW ABOUT A STONE’S THROW BEYOND THEM, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
For further clarification let’s look at Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible
And he was withdrawn from them, That is, from the three disciples, Peter, James, and John, whom he took along with him, leaving the rest at some further distance; and from these he removed, about a stone’s cast; fifty, or sixty feet(1) from the place where they were:
and kneeled down and prayed; the following prayer.
Fifty to sixty is between 15.24 to 18.288 meters
Having noticed that Jesus distanced himself from the disciples and remained in solitude praying (where he could not be heard) taking breaks to check on his disciples only to find them fallen asleep.
40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him. 41 Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping a:? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
In conclusion, as the disciples were distanced away from Jesus and since they were constantly falling asleep, the question we ask again is who heard Jesus’ prayer and how were they recorded into the Bible? Interestingly the Gospel according to John does not mention specifically what took place in the prayer and simply states the following:
18 When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it.