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.”

Matt 26:36-39 (NIV)

Oh the loving, selfless example of our Savior. The One Who spoke the world into being, the One in very nature God, the One who did not consider equality with God something to be grasped but made Himself nothing, the One Who always pleased the Father, the One Who could call down myriads of angels to come to His aid yet did not, the perfect, great “I AM” here acquiesces, relinquishing His holy rights - yet again – and agrees to continue on carrying through to the end with the plan to drink dry the bitter cup of redemption for you and for me. To be sure, that is love demonstrated. Paul tells us in Romans:

6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8 (NIV)

“Many people have difficulty believing God is a God of love...If you really want to know the reality of God’s love, look at the Cross...It was love that restrained Him when He was falsely accused of blasphemy and led to Golgotha to die with common thieves. He raised not a hand against His enemies. It was love that kept Him from calling legions of angels to come to His defense. It was love that made Him, in a moment of agonizing pain, pause and give hope to a repentant sinner who cried, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom’ (Luke 23:42)...Does God love us? Yes...and the proof is the Cross.” Billy Graham

In our verses for today the Lord Jesus took His guys - less Judas who was on his betrayal mission - to Gethsemane – the olive press – and there began the agonizing process of being bruised and crushed for our transgressions. His crushing would enable the fresh oil of the Holy Spirit to flow freely from Him to all believers. Out of His death and resurrection much life would come.

Our Lord tells His disciples – save Peter, James and John - to sit while He retreated in prayer. Going further still with His inner circle, Jesus began to be sorrowful and troubled. He desired for these three to keep watch with Him and pray. The agony Christ had was not one of physical pain or torment rather He was troubled from within, like a great and heavy weight pushing down upon His spirits. He was fully aware of the coming events. From the fleeing of His flock, to the denial of His close companion, to the jeers, scourging’s and mocking’s, to the cross itself, to bearing the weight of all sin – past, present and future – upon His whipped and bleeding holy shoulders, to the forsaking of the Father – all due to the wages of our sins:

21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Cor 5:21 (NIV)

The God/Man desired His closest earthly companions to pray with Him and requested their company and attendance in intercession. It gives some ease to the troubled spirit when we have friends nearby to confide in and to vent sorrows - even as destitute of help as theirs was. It is good to seek the assistance of our friends for prayer particularly when we are in agonizing circumstances. Yet, like Job’s “friends”, they proved miserable comforters. Prayer is never out of season and it is especially proper in seasons of anguish.

“Prayer is a direct address to God. Prayer secures blessings and betters people because it reaches the ear of God. Prayer affects people by affecting God to move them. Prayer moves the hand that moves the world. The utmost possibilities of prayer have rarely been realized. The promises of God are so great to those who truly pray, that when He puts Himself fully into the hands of the praying ones, it almost staggers our faith and leaves us amazed.” E.M. Bounds

Lastly, Jesus goes further still – alone with His Father. Some things are better dealt with between the child and the Father alone. If it is possible – possible that mankind could be saved apart from His drinking the full cup of God’s wrath – may it be taken away – He prays. Yet, not my will but yours, He adds. The plan for man’s redemption was coming to an end and what an end it would be. Thankfully for all of us, God did not take away the cup from the Savior even though God heard His plea, the cup remained. Yet, God had angels come and minister to His Son – to comfort and strengthen Him in His hour of need as the answer to His petition though not such an answer as the prayer seemed to require. If the answer is not in the affirmative in our supplications it is for a far greater “Yes”. Also, we can be assured that God distributes grace to meet our needs for every circumstance He allows.

“Sometimes the enemy seems to get an advantage over us; but the battle is not over yet. At last thou shalt have the victory, and carry the day for all that. In hard struggles remember the power of Christ, who, in his resurrection, broke through everything. With him thou canst also break through, and be more than conqueror. Yea, in every conflict, if thy faith be firm, thou canst be sure of victory beforehand; for faith engages Christ’s power, and his power ensureth victory; it is as impossible for thine enemies to keep thee always in bonds, as it was impossible that Christ could be kept in the grave by the stone, seal, and keepers. Nay, the greater their force is, the more glorious will be the victory of Christ over them.” K. H. Von Bogatzky

What I Glean

  • My Savior set forth a loving and self-less example for me to follow.
  • God is a God of love and this reality is proven by the cross of Christ.
  • Prayer is never out of season but it is especially proper in my times of anguish. "Pray continually;" 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NIV)