The Gethsemane Approach to Discipline and Self-Control


I’m thankful that scripture records for us the events in Gethsemane. We see Christ in sorrow and pain, praying and crying.

Every word of the gospels inspires us with Jesus’s strength and holiness. But these precious moments of despair show us that temptation is not the same as sin, that fatigue is not the same as surrender.

This scene of Christ’s struggle shows us it’s alright for us to struggle. And this shows us how to pursue discipline in a Christ-like way.

An Act of Discipline

Let’s remember that the cross was not something Christ was forced into. He laid it down of his own accord (John 10:18). In fact, you could say that the journey to the cross was a massive act of discipline – of self-control – because Christ endured the cross for the joy set before him (Hebrews 12:2).

Christ focused on the end result rather than the present pain. When the whips striped his back and the nails pierced his hands, he stayed on the path of pursuing the long-term why behind what he was doing.

Strengthened by an Angel

Yet in Gethsemane, Christ battled with temptation.

His discipline did not result in a peace-filled frolic. Christ sweated drops like blood and prayed that this cup would be removed from him. And at this moment of greatest struggle, Jesus was strengthened by an angel (Luke 22:42-44).

This captivated me recently. How would an angel strengthen Christ?

I don’t believe this to be some sort of supernatural transfer of energy. I believe that Christ was strengthened the same way we would be strengthened – by recalling and dwelling on truth. By remembering God’s promises. The angel ministering to him might have simply just been encouraging him by repeating the truths Christ knew.

Needy on the Hard Path

If the most disciplined man who ever lived was still in anguish as he walked the path to future joy, how much more should we not be surprised when the path of self control is bitter in the present?

If the most perfect man who ever lived was strengthened by an angel, how much more do we need to be strengthened by remembering God’s promises as we pursue the right path?

Gethsemane shows us that even when we know the right path to walk, that doesn’t make it easy. Trusting in God doesn’t mean that all of life is a blissful casual stroll through whatever comes our way.

Part of discipline is being wise enough to realize our need for encouragement and dependent enough to pray for it.

Photo Credit: DeeDee86 (Creative Commons)

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