Prayer, submission, and action
After Jesus finished His ‘High Priestly Prayer’, they came to the garden where Jesus was later betrayed by Judas. Although Jesus took Peter, James, and John from among the eleven to go pray with Him, Jesus ended up separating even further away to pray alone. When we previously looked at this passage, we observed that in His last moments before the cross, Jesus desired to spend time in prayer alone with the Father. However, when reading the passage this time, focus on the content of Jesus’ prayer:
Matthew 26:36-44 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He told the disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow – to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with Me.” Going a little farther, He fell facedown and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”
Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping. He asked Peter, “So, couldn’t you stay awake with Me one hour? Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, Your will be done.” And He came again and found them sleeping, because they could not keep their eyes open.
After leaving them, He went away again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more.
Jesus’ prayer is the pinnacle example of submitting to God’s will in prayer. We are only getting snippets of what He prayed to the Father; the full prayer must have been agonizing and heart-wrenching. Jesus wrestled with accepting the task in front of Him. He knew it would cost His life, with all the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual torment coming first. It is one thing to know that a tragic event is coming, it is something different to knowingly be right on the cusp of that event.
In raw honesty, Jesus even asked if there was an alternative…some backup plan that the Father may have for completing the mission, another way to remove the guilt of sin from the entire world. And yet, Jesus was willing to submit His anxious desires because He trusted that the Father’s plan – however painful it would be – was better than His own longing to avoid the imminent pain of the cross.
Matthew 26:45-46 Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the time is near. The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up; let’s go! See – My betrayer is near.”
After seeking time with the Father and submitting Himself to the Father’s plan, Jesus knew that it was now time to act. The time for prayer and preparation had passed. It was now time to fulfill the mission the Father had given Him.
This observation is especially instructive. We absolutely must seek God’s will in prayer and then submit to God’s will in prayer…but let’s make sure we go out and do God’s will when we’re finished praying.