TEXT: Matthew 26:36-44
36 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
39 And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?
41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.
43 And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.
44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
We are in a series of messages titled “Praying Through the Bible: A Series on Every Passage and Verse Regarding Prayer in the Bible.” The purpose of this series is to encourage and motivate you to pray to the God of the Bible. We highlighted each of these over 500 verses and passages in the Prayer Motivator Devotional Bible. So far, we have completed 149 messages in this series.
This is message #150 titled, Prayer Principles for the Painful Path Ahead (Part 3)
Today, we are continuing our look at one of the most powerful and moving accounts in the entire Bible — the passion and prayer of Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. What transpired in Gethsemane was the beginning of a world-changing and history-shaping event. Max Lucado said, “The Bible is the story of two gardens: Eden and Gethsemane. In the first, Adam took a fall. In the second, Jesus took a stand. In the first, God sought Adam. In the second, Jesus sought God. In Eden, Satan led Adam to a tree that led to his death. From Gethsemane, Jesus went to a tree that led to our life.”
We have already learned some powerful lessons regarding prayer and God’s plan for our lives from the story of Christ in this garden. We have learned the importance of leaving some people behind and taking some people with us as we embark on a God-ordained journey. We have learned the wisdom of confessing our feebleness to our brothers and sisters in Christ. We have seen the importance of praying alone as well as the importance of acknowledging that the will of God should be the overriding influence in our lives.
The parallel passage of this account in the Gospel of Luke tells us that as Jesus was praying, “Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done,” “there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.”
I have said before, not just in theory, but from experience, that our feelings do not dictate the process of prayer. Oftentimes — in fact, most times — you will not feel anything when you pray. Don’t let that discourage you. God never promised that we would feel a certain way when we pray. However, sometimes, particularly in moments of great distress, God will make His presence known. The Holy Spirit will give us a sense of peace and strength regarding whatever it is that we are praying about similar to how an angel was sent to strengthen Jesus as He was agonizing in prayer in the garden.
Think about that for a moment: a created being was sent to the Garden in order to strengthen the Creator. Once again, we recognize the great humility of our Lord. Dr. Richard Lenski states that the appearance of this angel “was the Father’s answer to Jesus’ prayer — a visible, tangible, miraculous answer that came directly from heaven at the moment when it was most needed.” The angel strengthened Jesus. Why did Jesus need to be strengthened? Because it was the Father’s will that Jesus Christ drink the cup that would be offered Him at Calvary. Jesus’s body was strengthened in order that He would be able to endure and bear all of the pain and suffering that was coming His way.
When you have accepted God’s will for your life, you can rest assured that God will strengthen you for whatever task ahead that you have to face. The Bible says that He does not place upon us burdens that we cannot bear — be they physical burdens or spiritual burdens. In Isaiah 41:10, God says, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” There are many situations that we will face in life that we will feel like we cannot endure. There are many times when we will want to give up or go back. But, if the path before us is God-ordained, we can rest assured that God will strengthen us to carry out His will. Jon Bloom said, “God loves to answer our prayers with the strength that causes us to abound in faith-fueled hope.”
Jesus Christ, in the Garden of Gethsemane, demonstrates what Paul said when he wrote, “When I am weak, then am I strong.” Have you made a habit of praying when you are weak? Have you learned the importance of gaining strength from God through prayer? Jesus did. Throughout the Gospels, we see that He withdrew from the crowds and the hustle-and-bustle of ministry in order to pray, sometimes all night. Through communion with the Father, He gained strength and was able to endure and overcome the rigors and strain of ministry. Now, at the threshold of His death, He resorts to this practice that He carried on throughout His life — prayer to God.
The strength that Jesus received also enabled Him to keep on praying. Luke goes on to tell us that “Being in agony, [Jesus] prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Now, the “agony” mentioned here is different from Jesus’ “exceeding sorrow” and “heaviness” which we have already discussed. This is different from Jesus feeling “sorrowful unto death” — as though He were about to die. Those were physical feelings. This agony is more of a mental agony or severe mental distress. Dr. Lenski states: “The new strength that was imparted by the angel brought the agony of the struggle to its highest pitch. The mind and the body that were sinking lower and lower beneath the strain rallied powerfully to face the full horror of the curse and the wrath that were impending. That is why Jesus went on to pray more intensively in this supreme moment.”
It is a medically attested fact that stress causes the generation of sweat. The strain may become so great that tiny blood vessels in the skin are ruptured, permitting blood to mingle with the sweat as it seeps out of the body’s pores. Luke does not tell us what Jesus prays in this moment, but it is evident that Christ has already accepted the will of God and now He has the strength to carry out that will.
Because of His passion in prayer, Jesus was able to fearlessly face the High Priest, Pilate, and Herod. He was able to face death, the devil, and the wrath of God. He was able to face the sting of the whip, the humiliation of the thorny crown, and the excruciating pain of the cross. He was able to bear our sin, to die our death, and to suffer our hell. When He rose from prayer to meet His betrayer, He stepped with absolute firmness and courage and confidence, not because the way would be easy, but because He knew He was carrying out the will of God. And when you do God’s will, the only possible outcome is success and victory.
Yes, you will have to face some pain, go through some difficulties, and suffer some setbacks. But, when you are following God’s will for your life, if you can get alone with Him in prayer, you can receive the strength that you need to accomplish your task.
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Now, if you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your first prayer needs to be what we call the Sinner’s Prayer. First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. You have done the most important thing in life. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.