Summary: A consideration of our Lord's struggle in Gethsemane.
Jesus was about to face the cross. To prepare for what He knew He must do, He retreated to Gethsemane’s garden with His disciples. He had them sit at a certain place and then the three who were closest to Him went a little farther into the garden. As they walked, He said, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” He then asked them to sit and pray as He went a little farther and prayed alone.
We can only imagine how disappointed Jesus was to repeatedly find His friends sleeping instead of praying as He’d asked. But maybe we can see how our Lord is disappointed by our failure to do as He asks. There’s much we could say about the faithlessness of the disciples and no doubt, much good could be gained from such a study. But instead, I want us to center our attention today on the faithfulness of Jesus.
One can’t help be impressed with our Lord’s faithfulness as He said to the Father, “Not what I will, but what you will.” But let’s notice that these words didn’t easily fall from Jesus’ lips. Before He could say these words with conviction, He had to spend time agonizing in prayer about an aspect of the Father’s will He’d rather have avoided.
Before Jesus could face Calvary, He had to pass through Gethsemane.
What Jesus said in verse 38 was what He was experiencing. He was willing to face the cross in His spirit, but in His flesh, there was resistance that was understandable. In His flesh, He didn’t want to face the cross (v. 34). But Jesus followed His own advice, and gave Himself to prayer so that the reluctance of His flesh might be overcome.
If we’re honestly seeking God’s will for our life, we’ll eventually find ourselves in the position Jesus was in: having to face an aspect of God’s will we’d rather avoid. At those times, we need to remember our Lord’s experience in Gethsemane. If we want to follow His example of faithfulness, we must learn how to say to God, “Your will be done,” even when it comes to aspects of His will we’d rather avoid.
There are two things to note about our Lord’s struggle in Gethsemane:
1. The cross was something Jesus didn’t want to face.
Our Lord’s request was to the point, “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me.” The cross was an aspect of the Father’s will for His life that Jesus didn’t want to face.
Yet, because He recognized the cross as part of the Father’s will for Him, and because He wanted to do His Father’s will, Jesus went to the Father in prayer about it.
None of us is responsible for all the things that happen to us, but we are responsible for the way we react to them. When we find ourselves facing things we’d rather not as we seek to walk in God’s will, we need to react as Jesus did, by going to the Lord in prayer about it.
As we walk with God, there’ll be times we are called upon to face . . .
A. Trials we would rather not face.
Within God’s will, trials have purpose. Their purpose isn’t to make us bitter, but better; not to impair us, but to improve us.
As we go to the Lord in prayer concerning the trials we face as we walk in His will, He’ll be able to reveal lessons He wants to teach us through them and provide us with the grace we need to face them.
Poem by an unknown Confederate soldier
I asked God for strength that I might achieve,
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health, that I might do greater things,
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy,
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men,
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life,
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing I asked for - but everything I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am among all men, most richly blessed.
Through prayer, God can reveal the benefits of trials we have to face, and enable us to say as did Jesus, “Your will be done.” Sometimes, as we walk in the will of God, there are trials we would just as soon avoid, and at other times, there are . . .
B. Tasks we would rather not face.