In my last post, I talked about the fact that Jesus only took His three closest disciples with Him into the garden of prayer. It was only hours before His trial, and He wanted them to watch how He prayed. The Lord wanted them to see a prayer under deep emotional distress.
We know that Jesus felt the same pressure that we do while being tested. The difference is that He knew how to walk in victory over these trials. It was His goal to train His disciples to walk the same way.
He started by explaining what He was going through.
He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”
Jesus was deeply distressed because he was about to face something that he never experienced before. He has existed since eternity past, but the Lord had never been touched by sin or death. Now it was all going to come upon Him.
He told His disciples that His soul felt like it was totally surrounded by grief because of what He was about to face. He knew that His humanity had to be dealt with.
Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
This passage causes many people to question whether or not Jesus wanted to go to the cross. It sounds like, just before the end, the Lord was trying to get out of it. That’s not what’s happening here.
We know from Jesus’ conversations with His disciples that He was focused on what He needed to do on the cross.
Remember what Jesus said when James and John asked to sit on His right and left hand in the kingdom.
“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”
There was no question in the Lord’s mind that He was going to drink the cup of death for us. And there are many more places in the Gospels where He confirmed this thought. Then why did He pray for the Father to remove this cup?
Simply put; this prayer was a teaching time for the disciples. There were many times that Jesus prayed for the benefit of those who were listening. This happened when He raised Lazarus from the dead.
So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
What Jesus prayed in that garden was for the disciples’ benefit. He wanted them to know how to pray when they felt overwhelmed.
Sometimes the pressure on us is so great that we lose sight of where God is bringing us to. In those times it is very appropriate to ask God to bring an end to our trial. But, we must always remember to finish the prayer by confirming our desire for God’s will to be done and not ours.
Question: When was a time that you had to pray while under great pressure?
© 2018 Nick Zaccardi