2010 Luke’s Gospel
Jesus Prays on the Mount of Olives
Key Verse: 22:42 "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."
In the last passage we learned from Jesus how to live as new covenant people. New covenant people depend on the blood of Jesus. By the power of Jesus’ blood, new covenant people can love God and love others, and serve others with the humbleness of Christ. In today’s passage Jesus prays on the Mount of Olives right before his arrest and trial. Let us learn from Jesus how to pray so that we may be victors in the spiritual battle.
I. “Father… not my will, but yours be done.” (39-46)
Look at verse 39 “Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.” The Mount of Olives is located directly east of Jerusalem. This was a place of prayer for Jesus. Luke 21:37 says “Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives.” During the night time Jesus went out to the Mount of Olives as usual to pray. The phrase, “went out as usual,” tells us that he prayed regularly. Jesus prayed, not one or two times intensively, but regularly. Jesus prayed always. In his messianic work, Jesus went off to a solitary place and prayed in the early morning and in the evening(Mk 1:35). Through prayer, Jesus received God’s strength to his work. Through prayer, Jesus received God’s love in his heart. Like Jesus, we need our own Mount of Olives so that we can regularly visit and pray.
When I was a high school student, I prayed and sang praises alone in my church after the school. Even though I was very tired because I had to be stuck in the school till late at night, through prayer and praise, I got much spiritual strength from God. So after prayer, all the tiredness had gone, and I was very joyful and thankful. Not long ago, I heard some shepherd’s testimony about how he struggled to pray when he was a campus student. Learned from Jesus’ Gethsemane prayer, he decided to pray on the hill behind the school everyday in the evening. Whether it rained or snowed, he never skipped prayer. Even he went to MT with school friends, he took train at night and came back to school to pray. He had kept this prayer life for 3 years while he was a student. Through this prayer life, he was really molded as a man of God, and God used him preciously for campus mission.
Then, why do we have to pray? Look at verse 40. “On reaching the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you will not fall into temptation.’” Jesus said that we have to pray that we may not fall into temptation. It is a very urgent matter. Satan is always trying to defeat us. As we learned from M. Matthew’s presentation last Friday, Satan is always prowling like a lion to devour us. Satan uses media such as internet, TV, games, and songs to twist our thinking and destroy our relationship with God gradually. This is more than a trial. We need God’s help through prayer so that we don’t fall into temptation. So Jesus encouraged us to pray that we might not fall into temptation. Prayer will protect us from unfaithfulness and will encourage us to faithfulness and perseverance. The only way for us to overcome the Satan’s power is to pray. Only by prayer, we can remain faithful to our mission and persevere under any kinds of trials. I pray that all our JBF members may have regular prayer life on the solitary place like the Mount of Olives and get spiritual strength from God. I may also repent my laziness and restore a regular prayer life.
Jesus withdrew from his disciples about a stone's throw and knelt down and prayed. What did Jesus pray? Let's read verse 42. "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." We learn several things here.
First, Jesus called God, "Father." This is an expression of intimacy. It was an expression of trust in the love of God. It was a confession of his clear identity as the Son of God. Though Jesus knew that the time of trial was coming, he trusted God's love. This assurance gave Jesus freedom to come to God as he was. In order to truly pray to God, we need to trust the love of God like Jesus did. When we do, we can bring the real problems of our hearts to God.
Second, Jesus submitted his prayer to God's will. Jesus began his prayer with, "if you are willing," and ended with "yet not my will, but yours be done." These are like bookends on Jesus' prayer. Jesus' request was enclosed in a qualifier that God's will be done above all. In fact, Jesus wanted God to take the cup away from him. This is what Jesus was really asking God. What did Jesus mean by "the cup"? In terms of upcoming events, Jesus knew full well what awaited him. Jesus foretold in Luke 9:22: "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life." Jesus had plainly foretold his betrayal (Lk 9:44), and repeated the prediction of his suffering, death and resurrection (Lk 18:31-33). Jesus would die a shameful and painful death at the age of 33. No one wants to be rejected. But Jesus would be utterly rejected. No one wants to experience pain. But Jesus would go through terrible torture. No one wants to die, especially at a young age. But Jesus had to die. When Jesus said, "take this cup from me," he honestly admitted that he wanted to avoid the awful trial which was upon him.
However, Jesus didn’t pray for what he wanted. Jesus did not pray to change God's will but submitted his will to God’s will. What was the God’s will? God wanted to offer Jesus as a ransom sacrifice for the sins of the world. Jesus knew what God’s answer was: “Take the cup.” So Jesus changed his prayer topic: “yet not my will, but yours be done” In our life of faith, we always face painful conflicts between God's will and our desires. Immature people think that prayer is to ask God for what they want according to their human desires. Then if God does not give them what they want, they complain that God did not answer. They are blinded by their desires. But we learn from Jesus that when we pray, we should submit our requests to the sovereign rule of God. In Jesus’ prayer, Jesus said “yet not my will, but yours be done.” Jesus respected God’s will rather than his human desire. Jesus denied himself in his prayer, rather he struggled to obey the will of God.
Recently, I faced painful conflicts between God's will and my desire. It was about being a messenger for JBF worship service. I knew that delivering message was really blessing, but because I was already very burden by many things that I have to do, I didn’t want to be a messenger. I had to work and go to school as a full time student. My English was still terrible, in addition, I just got married. I had many excuses. I thought that if I become a messenger, I would die. But M. Peter Kim and M. Joseph Sohn continually asked me, “When are you going to deliver the message?” Whenever they asked me like this, I wanted to avoid them and run away. I prayed and asked God, “Lord, if I take this cup, I might die. Do you want me die?” then threw a coin to know God’s answer. What was God’s answer? Take the cup. Actually, I wanted to ignore his answer, but I couldn’t deny God’s will. I knew that God will not let me be tempted beyond what I can bear and he will also provide a way out so that I can stand up under it. God promised this in the 1 Corinthians 10:13. So, I simply hold on this passage and made a decision to obey him, then went to M. Peter Kim and told him that I would deliver message in two weeks. God was pleased with my decision of faith and enabled me to prepare the message just as he promised in the Bible. Now, I’m delivering a message and I am still alive. Thank God! I pray that I may not follow my will or desire, but God’s will. Please continually pray for me to be a powerful messenger for JBF worship service. We do not know what is the best way for us, but God does. Fundamentally, we should trust God who is wiser than all, and who is loving and good. God's will is best! I pray that all our JBF members may trust God fully and obey his will by faith.
Look at verse 43, “An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.” God heard Jesus' anguished prayer. God understood the pain Jesus felt before the cup. I believe that if there had been another way to solve man's sin problem, God would have found it at that moment. But God proceeded with his plan to offer Jesus as a ransom sacrifice for the sins of the world. So instead of taking the cup from Jesus, God sent an angel to Jesus. The angel came to strengthen Jesus to take the cup. Then Jesus prayed more earnestly to take the cup. His prayer was so intense that Luke says his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. In this way, through a bloody struggle of prayer, Jesus overcame his fear of taking the cup of wrath and determined to obey the will of God. Through prayer, Jesus won the victory before fighting.
When Jesus rose from prayer and went back to his disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. After the Last Supper, disciples began to sense the reality that was fast approaching. Their dreams of an earthly messianic kingdom would not be fulfilled. Instead, hardship and suffering awaited them. Most of all, Jesus was leaving them. It was too much for them to bear. They became very sorrowful. Jesus had told them to pray, but they were not used to struggling in prayer. They could only wrestle with sorrow until they were exhausted. Then they closed their eyes and slept. Many of us are like this. When we must struggle in prayer, we just want to escape from the reality by sleeping, watching television, playing games, shopping or eating excessively. But how did Jesus help his disciples? Look at verse 46. “‘Why are you sleeping?’ he asked them. ‘Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.’” I pray that we may not avoid spiritual struggles but take them to the Lord in prayer. We may make daily prayer our habit of life, so that we may win the victory in the times of crisis.
II. Jesus was arrested (47-53)
In this part Luke contrasts Jesus' response to the crisis with that of his disciples. While Jesus was still speaking, a crowd came up, and Judas, a beloved disciple, approached Jesus to kiss him. But this kiss was a signal to the arresters. Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. Throughout history, the betrayal of a close and trusted friend has been a shocking tragedy to many a great leader. For example, Julius Caesar conquered foreign armies with great wisdom and courage. But when betrayed by his friend Brutus in Rome, he lost heart and cried tragically. Jesus, as a man who had loved and served his disciples, was vulnerable to the pain of betrayal. But through his prayer, Jesus was spiritually alert and had keen insight. He exposed Judas' act and warned that Judas would face grave consequences. Judas was not just betraying his friend Jesus, he was betraying the Son of Man whom God sent to judge the world. Warning Judas like this came from true love for his soul.
Jesus' words alerted the sleepy disciples. They said, "Lord, should we strike with our swords?" And one of them struck the high priest's servant, cutting off his right ear. Though it may have seemed courageous, it was a foolish act. It could have turned the event into a bloodbath and some or all of the disciples could have been killed. When the disciples did not pray, they had no wisdom. They were trying to fight a spiritual battle with the weapons of the flesh. This kind of response always makes things worse, not better.
Jesus rebuked his disciples, saying, "No more of this!" Then Jesus touched the man's ear and healed him. Jesus' touch revealed his love for the wounded man. Jesus loved even his enemies and healed one who had come to arrest him. By the power of God's love, Jesus was ruling over the situation and he averted a bloody conflict.
Then Jesus spoke to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders who had come for him. These men were avowed enemies of Jesus. They were full of hatred. They were irrational. But Jesus reasoned with them, pointing out that he had never tried to arouse a rebellion and that he had always worked openly in the daylight. Jesus tried to help them realize that they were under the power of darkness. Jesus faced the forces of darkness all alone. No one understood him or helped him except his Father God. Yet we see that Jesus was full of the love of God. Jesus overcame hatred with love and darkness with the light. It was through his prayer.
III. Peter denies Jesus three times (54-62)
Look at verse 54 "Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance" The religious leaders seized Jesus and led him away to the house of the high priest. Jesus, the holy Son of God, was arrested like a criminal and led away to captivity. Peter followed Jesus at a distance. His human attachment to Jesus was strong. At the same time, fear was growing in his heart. He could not just let Jesus go. At the same time, he could not follow Jesus too closely. Following Jesus at a distance was the exact expression of his human dilemma. He was not spiritually prepared for the events that were taking place. When the high priest’s people had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter, exhausted, sat near the firelight in great fear.
Then a servant girl saw Peter seated there. Peter’s face was revealed by the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.” But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said. He denied his relationship with Jesus. A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” “Man, I am not!” Peter replied. He denied his identity. About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.” Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Peter tried to follow Jesus to the end but he ended up denying him three times. Peter was humiliated and challenged from all sides and finally crumbled under the strain. He yielded to temptation because he did not pray and loved his life more than Jesus. His human loyalty ended when his life was in danger. Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter (56-61a). Though Jesus did not say a word to Peter, his eyes spoke to Peter’s soul. Then Peter remembered the words Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times” (61b). Peter realized that Jesus’ word was the truth. Peter realized that he did not listen to the word of Jesus. So he had failed miserably. He went outside and wept bitterly (62). It was most painful moment for Peter. But later, it was used by God to help him grow as a useful man in God’s history. This failure humbled him. Then he began to learn the power of prayer and the power of Jesus' word (1 Pe 1:24-25). The time of failure is the time to learn prayer.
In this passage we learn how to pray from Jesus. Jesus prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done.” Jesus prayed that God’s will be done. Jesus believed that God’s will was best. Whatever our situation may be, let’s learn from Jesus that God’s will is best. As we sing the Lord’s Prayer, let’s pray that God’s will be done in our life. Let’s listen to God in prayer until we can obey his will from our hearts. I pray that our all JBF members may come to our personal Mount of Olives each morning and kneel down to pray until God’s kingdom may come to us. May God bless each of us to become warriors of prayer in this generation!
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