by JUSTIN BROWN
(BERKELEY, CA, UNITED STATES)
Imagine if you will, allow your mind to try and paint the picture of Jesus praying and pleading with His Father in the Garden. Agonizing in prayer hours before His death on the cross; having to drink the bitter cup, that bitterness representing our sins. Imagine, if you will, Jesus, who's been preaching and teaching the past 21 chapters prior, foretelling the events of His death to come and the only thing left to do is wait for time itself to follow. Imagine, Jesus, the Son of God, wrapped in human flesh, all powerful, all knowing, perfect in every way, one who knew no sin and yet He who knew no sin, having to become sin - knowing what's going to happen, how it's going to happen, having to deal with God as judge and being completely cut off, separated from His Father because He was to be the bear the weight of our sin on His shoulders.
We couldn't possibly relate to what Jesus was feeling in the Garden, full of deep sorrow, stress - so much stress that His sweat became like great drops of blood. I believe that it wasn't the pain, it wasn’t the humiliation, it wasn’t the abandonment of his disciples, or the betrayal of Judas that bothered Jesus, no, it was being forsaken by His Father. From having perfect fellowship in eternity past all the way to His last moments in prayer, to soon having to endure the suffering of being separated from His Father – The suffering was so intense that while on the cross it caused Jesus to ask the very question "MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAS THOU FORSAKEN ME?" This lets us know that no matter how much pain we endure, how much suffering we experience, no greater pain/ no greater suffering is worse than being separated from God. Whatever it is that men can do, nothing compares to what God can do.
However, in spite of all of this, all of what Jesus dreaded, Jesus still said, "Nevertheless, not my will but your will be done." Nevertheless simply means. “I would rather do one thing, but God would rather I do this thing, and because He knows what’s best for me, I can say Nevertheless!” Aren't you glad that Jesus had a nevertheless attitude?! In looking through our text, Jesus demonstrates to us how and why it's important to have a nevertheless attitude:
POINT 1 - PLACE
V. 39 - And he came out and went, as was His custom to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place he said to them, pray that you may not enter into temptation.
The first step towards having a nevertheless attitude is that every believer ought to have a special PRAYER PLACE that we go to. The Bible gives us many examples of where Jesus would go to pray, like on the foot of the mountain. Matthew 14:23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone”., before performing miracles, Mark 6:41: And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all.”
But His most favorite or most often place to pray was in the Garden of Gethsemane, wherein we find Jesus praying in His final hours in our text tonight. This indicated a continual practice, regularly withdrawing and praying. The fact that no else could duplicate Jesus’ ministry did not deter Jesus from spending time with God in prayer. Every time Jesus prayed, He would do so in the early morning, every morning, before the start of His day, and every night, sometimes all through the night. Mark 1:35: Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. He would separate himself from the rest of the world so as to not be distracted, but dedicated to the will of God. Jesus made sure that He was faithful, available and accountable even while on assignment.
And again, looking at V.39 the Bible says “…..as was His custom…” meaning it was His usual habit, as talking with God ought to be our usual habit.
1a) What prayer habits are we practicing? I encourage ever believer to have special prayer place. I encourage that our prayer place ought to be a place of solitude. Matthew 6:6: “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly”. I encourage you that our prayer place not only be a place of solitude, but a place that’s sacred, set apart. I encourage that our prayer place ought to be a place that’s special. Meaning, that wherever we pray, there ought not to be any other place like it.
I encourage that in our prayer place that we have reverence to who we’re talking to. Prayer is the believer talking directly to God. As simple as this sounds, it’s really not that simple. We know this because in Matthew 6:9-15” The disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray! “9 After this manner therefore pray ye: (This is how you should pray) Our Father which art in heaven, (Father indicates a special loving relationship, one who we’re dependent on, the one who we ought to seek in our time of need. God, who is in Heaven, having that reverence and awe that He is not our level, He is greater than we are) Hallowed be thy name. (Holy, set apart is His name. Sanctified.) 10 Thy kingdom come . Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. (Allow His will be done on earth just as it always is throughout Heaven) 11 Give us this day our daily bread. (Man shall not live on bread alone, but by every word that proceed out of the mouth of God. Just as eating daily is necessary for survival, daily intake of His word is also necessary for the believer) 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. (Psalms 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me) 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
In order to know what God’s will is, it’s crucial that we talk to God in prayer, be practical about it, making it a part of our daily lives.
POINT II - PRAYER
THE PRAYER – V. 40- 42. “And when he came to the place, he said to them, Pray that you may not enter into temptation. And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
If prayer was essential in the life of Jesus, how much more essential is it in the life of a believer? Earlier it was stated that Every time Jesus prayed, He would do so in the early morning, every morning, and every night.. As He went off to pray in the garden, he told his disciples to pray so as to not enter temptation. That tells us to in order to avoid or overcome temptation, we ought to pray.
The Bible says, “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Secondly, Jesus also demonstrates to us that when we pray, we must separate ourselves from others, have some alone time with God. “And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw.” Thirdly, as Jesus begins to pray, the bible says that He knelt down or fell on his face, indicating to us that this was a total act of surrender and trust. Whenever we’re in our special prayer place and have our alone time with God, we ought to surrender ourselves and place complete trust in Him. Why? Because the bible says, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
God cares about us and wants us to communicate with Him. Jesus goes on to demonstrate that God does care because of the language He uses “Father, if you are willing”… The use of the word “Father” indicates that it’s a special, loving, and personal relationship between God and Jesus, and with us! And we know that He loves us because His word tells us 1 John 4:10: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
This short but powerful statement “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” shows that Jesus was reminding us that God is still in charge and in order to have a nevertheless attitude, we ought to avoid temptation, separate our selfish ambitions, submit to the Lord’s authority, serve with sincerity and sacrifice whatever is hindering us and trust in God completely, because He knows what’s best.
If we as believers keep this mindset, we can be steadfast; and reassured because just as a Father knows what’s best for their child, so does God know what’s best for us because he loves us. Which brings us to our final point …
POINT III - POISE
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.”
When Jesus arose from prayer we see him poised, had his mind made up, even when he sees his disciples sleeping after telling them to pray and not to fall into temptation, because. He didn’t run away, he stood his ground and let the chief priest, officers and elders of the temple seize him. His mind was made up, and he was steadfast and we know this because The Bible says: 1 Peter 2:22-23: 22 - 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
“HE WAS WOUNDED FOR OUR TRANGRESSIONS, HE WAS BRUISED FOR OUR INIQUITIES; THE CHASTISMENT OF OUR PEACE WAS UPON HIM’ AND WITH HIS STRIPES WE ARE HEALED” (Isaiah 53:5)