On this Maundy Thursday, Luke 22:39-46 sheds light on how to cope with things as they change in drastic ways these days.
39 – Jesus’ custom was to have regular and consistent prayer. The scriptures tell us also that He consistently practiced nightly prayer in places of solitude to be with His Father. The Mount of Olives was one of favorite spots.
40 – It is interesting that Jesus tells His disciples, “Pray that you do not enter into temptation.” What temptation? Maybe, Jesus was saying, “Things are changing.” “How are you going to face this change?” “Don’t compromise your faith in the process.”
41-42 – Jesus was honest with His Father. The weakness of His humanness now shows forth. “Can this cup pass from me?” As Jesus prayed through with the Father He was able to yield to God’s will. “Not my will but Your will be done, Lord.” If I am so fixed on my will, I will be unable to comprehend what God is endeavoring to get through to me as to His purpose. This cup that Jesus is talking to His Father about is His upcoming suffering to take on the full wrath of God for the sins of all humankind, dying for them. As Jesus accepts this mandate He struggles tremendously. Accepting God’s will is essential, but we can’t do it in our own strength. Neither could Jesus.
43 – So, God sends an angel to strengthen Him.
44 – Jesus needs this strength because this acceptance is at a deeper level beyond His human physical capacity to do it. He was in agony! Even His body showed signs of His intense battle. We will not get to any level of understanding except through intensely seeking God in prayer.
45 – Jesus finishes His prayer. He has come to grips with God’s will. He is now strengthened by this decision. So, He returns to His disciples, and He finds them sleeping and exhausted. How is it that they were exhausted? Our sorrow lulls us to sleep because we can’t contend with it in our own strength. Our own efforts have taken the fight out of us. There is only so much the body can endure before it gives in and we are exhausted. Prayer gives us the strength and resolve to have the endurance we need to get us past ourselves and our limitations to embrace God’s purpose in our life. (Also check out 2 Corinthians 1:8-9)
46 – Jesus is ready to deal with what is to happen. Sleeping time is over, guys. It’s time. Let’s go. “Don’t enter into temptation.” Don’t rely on your own efforts. Seek God for His strength that only He can give that your will comes into agreement with God’s will. Things are changing. In prayer we discover God’s solutions and strength to face reality.
When we come out of this current trial, what we have known to be normal will have changed drastically and perhaps permanently. Consistent prayer sets us up to cope with whatever comes next. The disciples were not ready for what was coming. Their entire world was rocked to its core. But they got it together and believed God for more of Him and His power in their lives. As they did, they prayed even more fervently for God to sustain their faithfulness. I pray this for God’s people and for us as pastors today!