Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Praying For Real

Jesus prays on the Mount of Olives.

Luke 22:39-46 Then, accompanied by the disciples, Jesus left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives.

40 There he told them, “Pray that you will not give in to temptation.”

41 He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

43 Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. 44 He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood. 45 At last he stood up again and returned to the disciples, only to find them asleep, exhausted from grief.

46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation.”

Jesus and his disciples had just finished the Passover meal, they left Jerusalem and went to the Mount of Olives, it was a familiar place that they have been to many times. Matthew and Mark tells that they went to the Garden of Gethsemane which was at the foot of the mount. (Matthew 26:36, Mark 14:32)

Jesus knows why he is there, Jesus is there to do some serious praying and he tells the disciples to do the same. Jesus steps away from the disciples and gets alone with God, he needs to talk to the "Father" about what is coming up very soon. Did you notice the closeness of their relationship in the use of the word Father?

Jesus didn't pray a lofty prayer or a prayer that hides what we are going through, his humanity is really showing in the agony of his prayer, he doesn't want to go through suffering but he wanted to be obedient to God's will. Jesus shows us that we are perfectly normal when we approach fear with distress and he had the same desire to avoid suffering that we have.

Jesus was willing to obey his father, to be human and to accept the undeserved suffering and death. Jesus prayed to his father with great honesty, he didn't hold back, all of his humanity shows up in this scene just before his trial and crucifixion.

Hebrews 4:15-16 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

When trials come and it seems like evil is all around, I need to remember that Jesus understands my weaknesses and he wants me to come to him in honesty so that I may receive comfort and grace.