Stories from the Middle 4: Jesus in the Garden

On this Thursday of Holy Week, let’s consider the events recorded in scripture on this day. Luke 22:39-46 gives us a different peek at Jesus than we see in many other parts of scripture. Elsewhere, we see Jesus commanding the storm to cease, boldly confronting the religious leaders who opposed him, authoritatively teaching in the temple and the mountainsides, or passionately kicking traders out of the temple. In this brief passage, Luke shows us, Jesus, alone, because his disciples have fallen asleep on him, only hours before Judas arrives with the leaders to have him arrested. This is not the calm before the storm, though the physical suffering has yet to commence, this is the darkest night for Jesus, his own moment in the middle. The following day will see Jesus once again standing boldly against Pilate’s questions, and peaceful in the face of ridicule and unimaginable physical suffering, but this moment finds Jesus in a much different place.

Luke 22:42 records Jesus prayer, as he sits at the precipice of why he came to Earth, the moment he had been foretelling would come, yet Jesus says:

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.”

4f869d9a7aa49bf51c2a18f85253cabaIt’s as if Jesus is asking, “Father, if there is another way to do this, can we do this another way.” We see several verses down just how distressed Jesus is in this moment:

“And being in more agony he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:44)

Yet in this great moment of anguish, Jesus does not throw in the towel, he carries on in his prayer, as the entirety of verse 42 records.

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. NEVERTHELESS, NOT MY WILL, BUT YOURS, BE DONE.”

The prayer Jesus taught his disciples to pray in Matthew 6, “Your Kingdom Come, Your will be done,” now becomes Jesus’s weapon against his own suffering. Despite knowing what the following twenty-four hours would hold, Jesus prays that if there is no other way but to go through with the plan, then he wants what God wants more than anything else. See even in the darkest moment, with all the odds stacked against him, his closest friends abandoning him, and knowing he physical torture he is about to endure, Jesus still had to pray for encouragement to get through it.

Sue-for-mental-anguish-Reasons-to-sue-someone-1Maybe you are facing a moment of great anxiety, worry, or fear. What will the coming days hold, and how can we get through what seems like a certain time of suffering? First, we pray. If Jesus needed to pray before facing what would come, how much more do we need to pray. Secondly, we need to commit in our hearts to submit to God’s will for our lives. God knows what He is doing, His ways may be higher than our ways, and we might not always understand, but it’s in these moments we must trust Him. Finally, we have to realize that God will take care of us, He will provide us with the supernatural help we need to get through whatever we face.

Luke 22:43 tells us in the midst of Jesus’s long night of agony, after he prayed:

“There appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.”

Then, despite the tears like blood, Jesus picks himself up and as Hebrews 12:2 tells us:

“…for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame…”

jesus praysJesus comes out of this time of prayer and support, he’s ready to face one of his closest followers as he betrays him, to suffer ridicule, beatings, mockery, and even his execution, all with the strength that God provided form heaven.

God wants to do the same for us. Never feel that you cannot cry out in prayer and be honest with God just how overwhelmed you are, He already knows what’s in our hearts, why not let it out, and let him come and give us the strength to endure. Right now, maybe,  you are facing a dark night, you wish that “this cup” (your looming circumstances) would pass from you, but it’s the time to pray that God’s will be done, and know that in submitting to God, He’s going to see us through, and supernaturally give us the strength to do whatever we need to do in the process. Take heart, we are not alone!

Grace and Peace to You. Happy Easter.