Luke 22: 39-44 (NIV): 39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, "Pray that you will not fall into temptation." 41 He 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." 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
Here’s what Scottish Minister William Barkley said about this remarkable moment in history: “There is no scene like this in all history. This was the very hinge and turning point in Jesus' life. He could have turned back even yet. He could have refused the cross. The salvation of the world hung in the balance as the Son of God literally sweated it out in Gethsemane; and he won.” Jesus did not want to go through the agony of being abandoned, scourged and crucified. He did not want to take our sin upon himself and be separated from God; he did not want to experience the death that we deserve.
But Jesus knew the power to endure what he was facing came from God. He leaned on his friends – to a point – but his prayer was between him and God. He went to his usual spot.
This tells us that he prayed often. He took his best friends with him, but continued on a few more feet to pray alone. And he knelt to pray. Matthew and Mark say he “fell on the ground”. Jesus humbled himself before God and that is the posture we must take when we pray. He wasn’t demanding that God do his will, he was begging for relief, or at least for the strength to do God’s will.
Luke, the doctor, says that his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. This shows us the agony he was in. He was battling the temptation to run away. He could have used his powers to escape, or he could have called an army of angels to save him. But he thought about you and me and he knew what he had to do. Jesus won the victory and purchased salvation for all who believe.
Autographed copies of Craig's fiction novel “The Dead Peasants File” are for sale at Blaser's Books in downtown Palestine. Harris is the pastor at Brushy Creek and Mt. Vernon United Methodist churches.