The Passion of Christ
Jesus' “dark night of the soul” is, like the Transfiguration, recounted in all three synoptic Gospels, with an especially detailed listing of his Gethsemane prayers in John's Gospel. As at the Transfiguration, Jesus invites only his three core apostles — Peter and the sons of Zebedee, James and John — to share it with him. But what a contrast this night is with the night he and his core disciples went up the Mount of the Transfiguration. Then he was filled with light and met Moses and Elijah, and his three closest disciples were terrified by the display of God's power.
On this night, Jesus “began to be sorrowful and very heavy and said to them, ‘My soul is overly full of sorrow, even unto death. Wait here and watch with me.’ And he went a little farther, fell on his face, and prayed, ‘O my Father, if it can possibly be, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.’ And he came back to the disciples and found them sleeping” (see Matthew 26:37–40).
Matthew's and Mark's Gospels repeat this pattern three times and end it with Jesus rousing his vigil-breaking disciples because his betrayer and the mob have arrived. Luke adds these most dramatic details: after Jesus prays “‘nevertheless, not my will but yours be done,’ an angel appeared to him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose up from prayer he came to his disciples, whom he found sleeping for sorrow, and said to them, ‘Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you fall into temptation’” (Luke 22:43–46).
Jesus Leaves His Disciples
Jesus, with Peter, James, and John, met up again with the other disciples just as the mob organized by the chief priests of the Temple came looking for him. Judas came along “with a great multitude carrying swords and staves,” and kissed Jesus on the cheek to let the officers know whom to arrest. Jesus asked who they were looking for. “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied, and he told them, “I am he.” He asked why they had to come looking for him with swords and staves when he had been preaching daily in the Temple. Peter, agitated, cut off the ear of the High Priest's servant, but Jesus quickly healed the wound and told his followers not to take up swords in his defense.