Scripture – Luke 22:39-46 (ESV)
Jesus Prays on the Mount of Olives
39 And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. 40 And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. 45 And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, 46 and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
Engaging God’s Word
As our Lord and his disciples enter the garden, our Lord turns to his disciples and tells them to pray so that they may not enter temptation. This instruction from our Lord was one that is constant throughout this passage and one that we need to understand as believers. Why do you think our Lord tells his disciples to pray so that they do not enter into temptation? One of the first things that came to mind was the words of our Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:13 where he instructs us to pray, “lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one”.
You see here, we see the beginning of the beginning for all eternity. Our Lord was about to act decisively for all mankind so that through God’s promise, all scripture is fulfilled for all time in the faithful actions of his one and only son. In this moment that lay before our Lord, there existed the glory of God, one of which was beyond compare but not without cost. Our Lord knew what lay before him. He knew that he was about to take on the sin of all mankind. As 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us “for our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”. Yet in this our Lord knew that the glory of God was about to be realized, he also knew that in that moment in which he became the sins of men, he would also experience separation from the father. In fact, on the cross he cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”? Here in this passage we see what was the beginning of this journey, a journey of trial but a journey of glory.
So why does our Lord tell us to pray in tribulation? This morning we are going to discuss three attributes that are evidenced by our Lord in this passage that we are called to embrace as his character in trial. We will also three attributes that men and women embrace that evidence the likeness of flesh within our lives.
Eternal Trust versus Selfish Response
This passage of scripture paints a great comparison of the things of God versus the things of men. Here we see that after our Lord tells his disciples to pray he then steps away from his disciples and falls before his father. In verse 41 it says that our Lord knelt down, but in the same passages in Matthew and Mark it says that He fell down. In this moment, our Lord was overwhelmed by what lay before him. He was spent, He had given all that He had and now he was about to give his life for all of those who shout “crucify him”, including you and me. Kneeling was not a common method of prayer in those times, in fact the customary or normal way of prayer was standing. So here in this passage we not only see a step away from the norm of that day but more importantly we see our Lord give all that he had left as he experienced an emotional strain that is beyond any that you or I could ever bear. Yet as He is in this state of emptiness our Lord still cries out a prayer each of us need to experience in our own lives as believers. Our Lord cries in verse 42 “Father if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.”
A Selfish Response
Have you ever considered the significance of these words form our Lord? As one considers these words, we need to look at how the disciples responded in this trial, how we respond and how our Lord responds. Firstly, it is evident that in this trial the disciple’s response was one of selfish want and not eternal trust. The disciples had just eaten, it was probably later in the evening and the emotional strain that was affecting their group by that which our Lord was going through had obviously worn them out. So, their response to dealing with the trial that they were facing was based entirely upon taking care of their own needs. They were tired, they had, had a long day and the emotional strain was tiring, so they deserved to get some sleep. As we stand back today and examine the disciple’s response in this situation it is easy for us to stand back and criticize them for their lack of spiritual fortitude in this moment. However, how many times have we come to same place in our spiritual lives? We in the struggles that we face in this life too often respond in the same selfishness manner that the disciples did that day. Whether it is us responding in anger, or fleshly desire, or personal want, or distrust, or personal criticism. These are just a few of the selfish ways in which we as humans respond to trials in our lives. Each of us respond to trials in different ways and my question to you today is; how do you respond to trial in your life? Does our life reflect the actions of our Lord here in this text or do we respond with the same spiritual strength that our Lord did this night?
An Eternal Trust
As we see here in this text, our Lord instead of selfishly responding in the same way as the disciples, he instead trusts in what his Father has before him. He turns to his father and says not my will but your will be done. You may be saying, well of course God is going to trust in his Father, because he knew what was going to be the final outcome of all that lay before him. Yes, our Lord did know all that lay before him but in his humanity, he also knew all that he had to go through and that he would be separated from his father because of the sin that was not his own but mankind’s. It was in this time that our Lord in his humanity lived the scripture in Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”. You see our Lord knew that perfection was in the process of being revealed in this moment before him. He knew the scripture out of James 1, that in his steadfastness, the perfect and complete effect was being realized before all humanity. However, he also knew that He had to trust in his father’s will, that his perfect and complete effect had to be realized in and through this moment.
So how is your trust in God? Many of us say that we trust in the Lord, but when the trials come, do we experience the trust of our Lord in that moment or do we waiver with the selfish desires of our heart? As the writer of proverbs tells us “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) If we desire to experience the perfect and pleasing way of our Lord we are called to trust in our Lord, not just in the easy moments of Sunday but in the hardest of moments in Monday through Friday.
Faith versus intellect
A second aspect to this passage that we need to understand as believers is the evidence that faith trumps all intellect. It is easy in our flesh to trust our own intellect in those moments of struggle. Whether it is financial, health, emotional or spiritual, too often we go to the coffers of men’s intellect to determine how we should respond in those moments of need and struggle. However, what we find is that too often those moments of intellect merely candy coat areas of sin, emptiness and selfishness. It is the equivalent to painting over wood rot in a house; it merely masks the damage that lies within foundation of our hearts. Intellect does not provide the glory of God that He desires in our hearts, rather it uses men’s understanding to hide the damage that lies within.
Faith in the Plan of our Lord
Our Lord desires to reveal his glory within and throughout each of our lives, but it requires that instead of trusting in our own intellect we are called to have faith in his purpose and plan. Our Lord Jesus Christ had to have faith in his father’s plan that night as he said not my will but your will be done. He had to have faith that firstly this was the only way and secondly that it was enough for all humanity. God’s purpose that night was being revealed in the faithful steps of his one and only son that held onto the promise that all would be fulfilled in this moment.
So, how is your faith? When you and I go through struggle in our life where do we go in those moments? Is it to our knees like our Lord revealed that night in the garden? Is it to our well of faith in our lives, knowing that God knows what he is doing and that he is revealing more of himself in this moment. As the Word tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:7-8, “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight”. How is your faith? How is your sight? I pray that your faith is becoming clearer and your sight becoming dimmer.
Spiritual Submission versus Emotional Slavery
The last aspect of this passage that we need to understand and embrace the truth of experiencing Godly submission over emotional slavery. Our Lord knew what He had to endure in the days to come and although He knew what was about to happen rather than succumbing to the emotional and physical turmoil that faced him, he prayed even more. In verse 44 and 45, it says that being in agony he prayed more earnestly and after sweating drops of blood, he rose from prayer. Our Lord although he sweated drops of blood in the agony of what he was facing he still rose and faced that which was about to come about.
Unfortunately, both the world and the church respond to trial in their lives too often the same way. We unfortunately allow the trial and turmoil of our lives to determine the life that God has given us. We hold onto our pasts as baggage that requires carrying. We hold onto the hurt that we have experienced as defining character. Our Lord knew what he faced, yet in all of this he still revealed the heart and purpose of his father. He still rose from prayer, not allowing the trial to succumb God’s glory. Lord instructs us in this understanding of submission unto his purpose in trials in Romans 8:34.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:34-39
Today are you more than a conqueror? Do you struggle with baggage in your life or do you live with eternal purpose? Do you allow hardship and persecution to enchain your life or do you go forth in the power of our Savior and Lord? Our Lord desires to reveal his promise, purpose and character in and through each of us if we will just embrace eternal submission and not emotional slavery.
This morning, we have engaged three elements our Lord illustrated for us in this moment of ultimate trial upon his life. It is often said by many that we do not understand the trial and hard times we have faced in this life. This is true, but God understands. God has been there and he has carried even further. Whatever trial and turmoil you might have faced or will face eternal trust, faith and Godly submission is a calling upon each of our lives. Do you embrace these callings or are they mere biblical understandings? Today is day of opportunity. Today is a day of change. Today is day of hope. God has done everything for us all we are called to do is experience the character of our Lord in our lives.