Being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood.
When Jesus and His disciples came to the garden of Gethsemane, Luke 22:41 says, “He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray.” Matthew 26:39 gives a fuller picture of what happened: “He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face.” Jesus was so burdened that He collapsed. And He began to pray, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
Some say Jesus was praying for deliverance from the physical agony of the cross. Others say He wanted to escape the spiritual suffering of the cross–that is, having to bear the sins of the world and experience for the first time a separation from His heavenly Father. I think Jesus was asking God to exempt Him from both. Yet Jesus came to earth to die on the cross for our sins. Why would He pray to be delivered from this experience if He knew it was the reason He came?
Let me ask you this: Have you ever known what God wanted you to do, yet you struggled with doing it? That was Jesus’s experience. Verse 44 says, “Being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood.” When you and I struggle with doing God’s will, Jesus understands. Hebrews 4:15-16 says, “We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” When you are struggling with what you know God wants you to do, you can talk to Jesus about it. He has been there.
My former seminary professor Haddon Robinson offered this great insight into Jesus’s struggle: “For me, prayer serves as preparation for the battle, but for Jesus, it was the battle itself. . . . Where was it that Jesus sweat great drops of blood? Not in Pilate’s Hall, nor on his way to Golgotha. It was in the Garden of Gethsemane. . . . Had I been there and witnessed that struggle, I would have worried about the future. ‘If he is so broken up when all he is doing is praying,’ I might have said, ‘what will he do when he faces a real crisis? Why can’t he approach this ordeal with the calm confidence of his three sleeping friends?’ Yet, when the test came, Jesus walked to the cross with courage, and his three friends fell apart and fell away.”
Prayer is not trying to align God’s will with your will; prayer is aligning your will with God’s will. And when Jesus settled that matter in His heart, He got up with confidence to face the cross.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Longest Night” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2017.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.