“Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.[c] 45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” Luke 22.39-46
Jesus was not himself. Typically he was cool, calm and collected. But today, the day that we would prepare for the end, I think it’s fair to say he was wrestling with his call. The text tells us he was in “anguish” and that his sweat were “like” drops of blood falling to the ground.
This was the reason for his life, to die for humanity. His entire existence on this earth was to point toward this finish. He would go out with a finale. His disciples thought he might suffer for what he stood up for, for what he believed. They knew he would be persecuted because he told them so and it was obvious he was swimming up stream in comparison to modern Jewish thought and practice. But I don’t believe they understood that he would have to die or that he would willingly go to the cross.
So Jesus went out to the Mount of Olives to pray. This was his usual place. It’s a great place. I’ve been there a dozen times, gazing over the holy city of Jerusalem, looking across the Kidron Valley. It was first century Israel, no electric lights, no engines roaring, no phones ringing. People were present. They were living out their lives in routines and rituals. Little did they know the Son of God was standing on that hill side, preparing to give his life for the sins of the world.
But it’s not just about Jesus being on the mount but about what he prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; but not my will, but yours be done.” Jesus asked for a change in plans, but knowing this would not happen, submitted his will to the Father. And God sent an angel, to comfort and strength Jesus who returns to his disciples to find them sleeping saying, “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
The journey to the cross was filled with power and passion. Submission and gratitude. Jesus as the Lamb of God did not shirk his call. He humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross (Phil. 2).
What is God asking of us? Why kind of sacrifice? What kind of submission? Are we asked to suffer, to die, to proclaim, to preach, or to serve? How is God asking us to be like Jesus? What kind of prayers might be pray had it been us on the Mount of Olives? Would we have had the strength to obey the Lord? To go where he was leading?
This is a day of obedience. Christ is with us as his Holy Spirit guides us in accomplishing his work on this earth. Be faithful. Move forward. Allow the Lord who encouraged the Christ to encourage you today.
”O Lord God, you are good. Thank you Jesus for your suffering, death and resurrection. Thank you for loving the world so much that we might have life with you now and forever. Come now and reveal yourself to those who have not yet awakened to your power and grace. I love you Lord and praise your name. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen