Jesus’ Garden Prayer
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.
The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” vs. 41
Look In Your Bible
There was a country preacher whose car broke down on a back country road, but he was able to walk to a nearby roadhouse diner to use the phone. After calling for a tow truck, he spotted his old friend, Frank, drunk and shabbily dressed sitting at the far end of the diner at the bar. “What happened to you, Frank?” asked the good reverend. “You used to be rich.” Frank told this sad tale of bad investments and poor decisions that ultimately ended with him being almost broke and out of a job. “Go home,” the preacher said. Get down on your knees and pray like you’ve never prayed before. Then open your Bible at random, stick your finger on the page that your Bible falls open on, and there God will give you guidance and direction.” Sometime later while he was downtown, the preacher bumped into Frank, who was wearing a Gucci suit, sporting a Rolex watch and had just stepped our of a Mercedes. “Frank.” said the preacher, “I am glad to see things really turned around for you.” “Yes, preacher, and I owe it all to you,” said Frank. “I went home that day, got down on my knees and prayed like I’ve never prayed. Then I opened my Bible, put my finger down on the page and there was the answer—Chapter 11.”
Reader’s Digest, March, 1993, p. 71.
Read Passage – Matthew 26:36-46
36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” 40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” 43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. 45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
I find the way this passage starts fascinating. It shows us a side of Jesus that we barely get to see. It’s in verse 39:
“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me…” vs. 39
Here we see that Jesus struggled. The humanity part of Him comes out in a way that we can identify with. The flesh part of Him does not want to go to the cross. He knows he is facing torture, ridicule, and death. He knows what he is called to do but everything in Him struggled to keep His focus and His purpose. In fact, in Luke it says:
“And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Luke 22:44
Jesus experienced such a struggle. So he does what He knew He needed to do; pray. He grabs his closest friends and asks them to come along side Him and pray. He needs others around him, supporting Him and pulling for Him. We know that He knew what was going to happen to Him but to what extent we aren’t sure. We can know that from these verses we know that He didn’t really want to go through this. I mean, who does?
And here is another thing that I really respect; He was honest with God. There was no covering up or acting tough. What we see in Jesus was total honesty. He shares what is really on His heart! And that is our theme for the year; Living With The heart of Jesus. So if Jesus was open and willing to share His struggles with God, we can share our struggles with God too.
Don’t we have some of that same struggle? We know something is emanate and we struggle with it so we turn to prayer. Yet, we often know that we will still need to walk through the difficulty.
When God’s Purpose Doesn’t Match Ours
And therein lies the big issue that we deal with and it’s the same one Jesus did, God’s purpose didn’t match what he was feeling. So verse 39 says:
“Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed…” vs. 39a
Jesus struggle is that his feeling tell Him He doesn’t want ot got through with this but His in His spirit He wants to be obedient to God.. In this He is our greatest example. Remember, he knows God’s will but he really doesn’t want to go through with it. We sometimes feel that we somehow should get a pass; that if we are good enough we won’t have to go through the pain. So we pray but often we pray for the easy way out. For our struggle to be taken away, for the pain to be gone, for the bad times to be better, etc.
Living In God’s Will
But here is the crux of this passage, that we can go through struggles and difficulties and not only know the will of God but be in the will of God. It was important that as we looked this month at some of the prayers of Jesus, that we remember this one because from it we gain a greater understand of living in God’s will.
1. Jesus Knew Whose He Was
The first thing that Jesus prayer reveals to us it that Jesus knew whose he was. Go back to the beginning of the prayer and look at the first two words, verse 39a:
“My Father…” vs. 39a
In order to move forward he remembered that he was the Son. God was his Father. That is an important thing for us to remember too, that we are God’s. Jesus knew shoes He was, do you know whose you are? Romans 8:16:
“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Romans 8:16
Ex. Let me give you an example of this. My father comes from a large family; 19 kids. My dad is the 19th. When we go to a family reunion and we see my relatives, we are known as 19. I am my dad’s oldest so I am 19-1. People even say, “Oh you’re 19’s or you’re Doug’s oldest. I am known by that.
Do people know shoes we are? God’s! Very often, the flesh (the old self) will tells us to do things our own way, against God’s will or in some sense, the ways of the world or Satan, but that is not whose we are. Our spirit knows the will of God and we want to do the things of whose we are. Just like I do things to uphold my earthly father’s name, I do things to uphold my heavenly Father’s name and ways. Turning to God in prayer reaffirms that. It reaffirms that to our spirit, to God, and to Satan too! Hey, you can’t have me because I am God’s so I turn to Him.
2. Jesus Had A Willing Spirit
Because Jesus knew whose he was he could tell God how he felt. Verse 39a:
“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.” vs. 39b
How did Jesus feel? He wasn’t looking forward to what was about to happen. In fact, he’s asking God if this is really what needs to happen. But take note of this, His struggle here is on the inside. If this were me, I would have prayed, “Father, take this cup from me,” but Jesus says “if it is possible.” In His spirit Jesus was willing to do whatever he was called to do but that didn‘t stop him from asking God if there was any other way; but I think he knew there wasn’t. Sometimes we say things like “If it is God’s will” but inside we are still trying to figure out some way out. Jesus know God’s will but still expresses his concern without compromising his willing spirit. Peter said in 1 Peter:
“For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” 1 Peter 3:17
Are you willing in your spirit to go through the things God has called you to do? Good or bad? The decision starts in your heart.
Ex. At a meeting of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Bobby Richardson, the famous former New York Yankee second baseman. He is the only World Series MVP to be selected from the losing team! Richardson made a clutch catch in the 1962 World Series to save the game for the winning Yankees. Anyway, he offered a prayer that is a classic in brevity and poignancy: “Dear God, Your will, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. Amen.”
3. Jesus Submitted To The Bigger Plan
And…because his spirit was willing, Jesus submitted to the bigger plan. The end of verse 39:
“Yet not as I will, but as you will.” vs. 39c
Jesus, over the next week of His life, went through a terrible time of torture and ultimately death. He paid a big price for his obedience to God. But God is a God of big results. His death paved the way for all mankind to have a fully restored relationship with God. God’s plan was for Jeus to through this. And God has plans for you and I too. One of my favorite verse, jeremiah 29:11:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
God has a purpose and a plan for you and for me. And God is a God that can be trusted. He is safe. Even when things don’t go our way, when we walk through difficult times that we might not understand, and let’s face it, times we would rather not walk through, just like Jesus) that with God there is hope. His plans are their to give us hope, that is what the verse says.
Ex. A minister received a call from a church that offered him a salary four times what he was then receiving. Being a devout man, he spent much time in prayer trying to discern what God wanted him to do. One day a friend met the minister’s young son on the street. “Do you know what your dad is going to do?” he asked. “Well,” replied the youngster, “Dad’s praying, but Mom’s packing!”
Lining Up With God’s Will
Let me wrap this up with an example that might help you.
Bob Mumford in Take Another Look at Guidance, compares discovering God’s will with a sea captain’s docking procedure: A certain harbor in Italy can be reached only by sailing up a narrow channel between dangerous rocks and shoals. Over the years, many ships have been wrecked, and navigation is hazardous. To guide the ships safely into port, three lights have been mounted on three huge poles in the harbor. When the three lights are perfectly lined up and seen as one, the ship can safely proceed up the narrow channel. If the pilot sees two or three lights, he knows he’s off course and in danger.
Here’s the point: line up the three things: prayer, your spirit, and your actions, then you’ll be in the will of God.