24: The Last Hours of Jesus
And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”
Key Scripture: Luke 22:39-45
Key Thought: Having just been betrayed by a close friend and knowing that his accusers were coming to take Him to His death, Jesus got alone to pray. How He prayed that night gives us insight into how we should pray when we experience times of deep anguish and pain.
Intro: (In dramatic fashion) It was a long, difficult day, at the end of a long, difficult week, for Jesus.
The Sunday before, crowds cheered him as he triumphantly entered Jerusalem. His name was on every one’s lips. Thousands upon thousands spoke his praises. Every one wanted to see him, to be near him, to be present, to see perhaps whether he would do another miracle, or heal the sick. On that day Jesus accepted their praises, knowing that before the end of the week they would all turn against him.
On Monday, Jesus sees the height of corruption in the temple area. There, merchants and moneychangers took up the whole of the court of the gentiles, for their businesses, leaving no place for those outside of the covenant, those seekers who did not grow up knowing the law of Moses, leaving no place for them to come and pray. With a hand made whip, he drove out the merchants, and over turned the moneychangers tables crying, “My Father’s house shall be called a house of prayer for all Nations…but you have made it a den of robbers”
On Tuesday, the chief priests and teachers of the law start harassing him in earnest. As he was giving to the people some final glimpses of the kingdom of God before his suffering, his enemies approached. “Who do you think you are? By what authority are you doing these things?” It was a question easily answered, but do you feel the animosity, the hatred, the venom, evident in those who asked it. The people who should have known, those who by years of long study, should have recognized him, and welcomed him, sought to trip him up and trap him, and before the week was over would cast their vote to have him put to death.
On Wednesday, one of his close friends, one who was with him for three years, one who had access to the deepest longings of his heart, agreed to betray him to his enemies. This betrayal, by a close friend, was not because of some ideological difference. He didn’t betray Jesus because he thought our Lord was doing something improper, or to keep him from spreading heresy. Christ’s enemies, at least, had that excuse. No, this betrayal was for money. For 30 pieces of silver, the price of a common slave.
On Thursday, the night that we talked about last wee Jesus had one final meal with his disciples. He had one last night, one last time to try to teach his closest followers what was coming, one last night to prepare them for what was coming. He knew their love for him was weak. He knew all of them would be scattered, and even Peter, his closest friend, would deny three times that he even knew the Lord. He watched as Judas left the table, and knew that in a few hours he would return with a band of soldiers to have Him arrested. He knew that in spite of all his efforts, his disciples only just barely understood the significance of this night, had only the barest perception of what he was going to do for them. He knew that in many ways, though they were with him bodily, he was very much alone. It was in this way, that Jesus entered the Garden of Gethsemane.
Scripture: Luke 22:39-45
“Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40On reaching the place, he said to them, "Pray that you will not fall into temptation." 41He 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." 43An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. 45When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow.”
How to Pray Like Jesus
1. Acknowledge that ultimately, God is in control of your situation.
Statement: The relationship was right. The first thing that Jesus did when He began to pray was acknowledge that God was ultimately in control of His situation. Whatever happened, Jesus
-Jesus opened his prayer with, "Father, if you are willing…”
-This also tells us that Jesus accepted the fact that God wasn’t necessarily going to answer His prayer.
2. Accept the fact that God may not answer your prayer.
Illustration: A minister noticed a young boy kneeling off to the side of the room after youth group and praying very fervently. As the preacher came within earshot of the boy, he was surprised to hear the boy saying: "Tokyo, Tokyo, Tokyo."
After the boy finished his praying the preacher approached him and said, "Son, I was very pleased to see you praying so devoutly, but I couldn’t help but overhear you saying something like ’Tokyo, Tokyo, Tokyo.’ What was that all about?"
The boy replied, "Well, I just finished taking my geography test in school, and I have been praying as hard as I can that God would make Tokyo the Capital of France."
Statement: Now I’m going to say something next that I find very uncomfortable, and so I want to say something before I get into the body of the sermon itself. I want to make it very clear that I’m a strong believer in prayer. I believe that prayer is one of the most powerful tools we have and that prayer can give us the power to change the circumstances of our lives.
I BELIEVE THAT.
I’VE SEEN THAT
And I KNOW THAT IT’S TRUE.
But I also know, there are going to be times when prayer will NOT change what’s going to happen. I mean, God can do whatever He wants to do, and He can change whatever He desires to change. But let’s face it, unless God really has a good reason to do otherwise: Tokyo will always be the capital of Japan… not France.
-Now, I know I’m pretty young, but I can honestly say that even at this point in my life, I am a better person because God has not answered all of my prayers.
-Now listen, we’ve all been there. We’ve all had prayers go unanswered. We’ve all prayed that God would heal someone we cared about and He didn’t. We’ve all prayed that God would open a door and it was closed. We’ve all prayed that God would bless us with fill-in-the-blank-whatever…and He didn’t.
-Those unanswered prayers can turn us into bitter people and drive us away from God if we let them. Because the enemy just loves to whisper in our ears in those weak moments when we realize a prayer isn’t going be answered, “See? God doesn’t care about you…your prayers don’t do any good…why do you even bother?”
-Now come on, we’ve all been there. But I want you know something this morning. Jesus knows exactly how that feels. He knows exactly what it feels like when your soul is torn and you wish God would rescue you and you pray with all your heart…and God doesn’t answer. Jesus knows exactly how you feel. As he prayed in Gethsemane, He knew that God probably wasn’t going to answer His prayer. And in fact, God didn’t.
-But I want you to notice something else, even in His weakest moment, knowing that there was only a one-in-a-million chance that God would actually answer His prayer, Jesus prayed anyway.
3. Tell God exactly what you would like Him to do.
Statement: In fact, He told God exactly what He wanted from Him. Jesus wasn’t bashful in asking God to spare Him. He was very clear in that He did not want to go through what He was about to go through. Realizing that God was in control and that He may not answer His prayer, Jesus asked God, “take this cup from me.”
-Listen, God already knows what you want, anyway. Shouldn’t you tell him?
4. Humble yourself to accept to His answer.
Statement: Did Jesus think His prayer would change His destiny?
Did Jesus believe that there was some other way to get the job done?
I don’t think so…
So why pray the prayer?
If Jesus knew the Father was going to deny His request
If Jesus knew the Father was going to tell Him NO
If Jesus knew His prayer wasn’t going change His destiny on the cross
Why pray the prayer???
-Because sometimes the result of prayer isn’t that things change, but we do. You’ve probably heard the old saying that, “prayer changes things.” That’s true, but way of thinking about prayer is that “prayer changes me.”
-Do you notice how Jesus prayed? As He continued in prayer, he began to acknowledge that what He wanted wasn’t that important. He prayed, “…yet not my will, but yours be done.”
-In effect, He was saying, “Father, you are first. You are my master. You are my King. What I want to happen doesn’t matter. It’s about what you want.”
5. Leave the result of your prayer up to God.
-And then, Jesus left the result of his prayer up to God. He left Himself completely at the will of His Father. Do you?
6. Keep on praying. (Verse 43)
44And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”
-Jesus kept on praying. I think we give up on praying too early a lot of times. Why should you keep on praying? Well, because God can handle it. You’re not bugging Him. But more than that, remember, prayer changes us. And the more time we spend in prayer, the more time we spend staying close to God, the more we will be changed. The more prepared we will be for our prayer to be answered or to not be answered.
-In Jesus’ case, his prayer wasn’t answered, but as He went to the cross, He was ready. He was ready because of that night in Gethsemane.
-Now, in just a moment we’re going to share communion together. And as we do, I want us to remember that night when our best friend was in so much anguish. When our King was pleading for mercy…and mercy didn’t come.