Luke 22:39-53 (especially v.43-44) (spring AD 30, Thursday night of Passion Week)
“[Jesus] withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’ An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (v.43-44)
A reminder of the sequence of events:
- Jesus ate the Last Supper with his disciples, fully aware that he was soon to be arrested, tortured and killed
- He prayed for himself, the disciples, and all Christians to follow
- Jesus and the disciples went to the Garden of Gethsemane
- Jesus walked a few dozen metres away and prayed, asking God for an alternative to the current plan, as he knew it would be horrifyingly painful
- God sent an angel to comfort Jesus
- Jesus prayed more (though not, it seems, for God to change his mind)
In our second look at these two verses, note God’s response to Jesus’ request and what Jesus did about it.
Effectively God the Father was saying ‘No’, to his Son: ‘No, there cannot be another way of doing this, you really are going to have to go through with what we spoke about’. But his answer was far from being a refusal. What he did was send Jesus a messenger, a token of his presence to remind Jesus of God the Father’s presence with him and reassure him about the glories to come, when Jesus got to go home about six weeks later.
Jesus then proved himself not to be simply speaking humble words when he said “not my will, but yours be done” (v.42). He really was in full submission to his Father. Not only that, but his immediate response was – through prayer – to try and get closer than ever to his Father. He knew that the best place of comfort, the place most like home, would be to hold his Father as close as he could. He demonstrated for us the best way a person on earth can do that: by praying.
When we are in need of comfort, the best thing we can do, the closest we can get to home, is to talk to God. Hopefully you have others who can join you – family and friends, as Jesus was comforted by an angel – but our action as grieving or troubled people should be to pursue closeness with the God of comfort himself.