TEXT: Matthew 26:36-44
36 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
39 And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?
41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.
43 And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.
44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
We are in a series of messages titled “Praying Through the Bible: A Series on Every Passage and Verse Regarding Prayer in the Bible.” The purpose of this series is to encourage and motivate you to pray to the God of the Bible. We highlighted each of these over 500 verses and passages in the Prayer Motivator Devotional Bible. So far, we have completed 148 messages in this series.
This is message #149 titled, Prayer Principles for the Painful Path Ahead (Part 2)
In our last message, we considered the place Jesus went to pray — He went to the Garden of Gethsemane, a location he frequently resorted to. This place, which was also the location of an olive press, signified the crushing trial which Jesus was about to face. We also considered the people Jesus took with him and the people Jesus left behind. As he embarked on his path of pain, Jesus left behind Judas and only took just so far eight of the disciples.
Now, notice the privacy Jesus required. As he proceeded further into the Garden with Peter, James, and John, Jesus “began to be sorrowful and very heavy.” Our Lord was affected by sadness and grief because of what he knew was about to come. He was uneasy with the future. The word “heavy” means “to be troubled, to be in great distress or anguish, to be depressed.”
Jesus Christ admitted how he felt to his disciples. He told them, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death…” The disciples could not help Jesus. (In fact, they likely became more afraid when they were informed of their Master’s feelings.) But Jesus still told them anyway. See the humility of our Lord! He, the great Physician and Comforter of the Saints, was humble enough to admit his distress about the future. Most of us would have acted like we had it all together.
But, Jesus did not just share his feelings with his disciples; he told them something they could do about it. He said, “Tarry ye here, and watch with me.” Later, He told them, “Watch and pray.” Remember, Judas is gone; the other eight disciples are a distance away. Jesus had more confidence in Peter, James, and John, who are considered to be his “inner-circle”; so he told them to stay with him, to watch with him, and to pray with him. Even though it is necessary to get rid of some people in order to proceed with God’s plan for your life, it is also necessary to keep those people around you who know how to watch and pray. You don’t need friends who are always trying to give you their advice. You don’t need friends who are always recommending a new way to do something or a new solution to a problem. What you need is friends who know how to get ahold of God in prayer.
What did Jesus do next? Verse 39 says, “He went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed.” Jesus still separated himself from all others when he went before the Father. Metaphorically, he retired to his prayer closet. John Calvin said, “We have seen in other passages, that in order to excite himself to greater earnestness of prayer, the Lord prayed in the absence of witnesses; for when we are withdrawn from the gaze of men, we succeed better in collecting our senses, so as to attend more closely to what we are doing. It is not necessary that we should retire to distant corners whenever we pray; but when some great necessity urges us, because the fervour of prayer is more freely indulged when we are alone, it is useful to us to pray apart.” When you are faced with a decision or path of great consequence, make use of the ancient, time-worn tradition of getting alone with God. When we are alone with God — when it is just us and Him — we have a tendency to dispense with artificial words, dramatic flourishes, and high-sounding exclamations. We are better able to do business with God with nothing held back. That is what Jesus does in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Jesus prays, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” We see, first, that Jesus instantly shows respect for the will of God. He knows that the path before him is the path that the Father had foreseen from the foundation of the world. All those eons of existence before, Jesus Christ himself had known that it would come down to this. So, he respects that in his prayer. New Testament scholar, C.L. Blomberg, states, “Christ teaches profound lessons for us through His praying. As fully human, He no more wanted to endure His coming torture than any of us would. He asked of God if there were any way possible that He might be spared this ordeal. But He left room for God’s sovereign will to override His natural human inclinations. ”
When you pray, you must acknowledge the fact that there are some things that God has had planned for your life from the beginning. He knew that you would be at the position you are now before you were even born. Just because you did not know does not mean you have a right to tell God “no.” Considering that, it is still good to know that we can express our desires to God in prayer even if they appear to be in opposition to His will.
Jesus continues in prayer, saying, “let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” The cup Jesus is referring to is, of course, the cup of his crucifixion. Perhaps the most painful part of this process for Jesus was his knowledge that he would have to be separated from the Father — that the Heavenly Father would turn his back on his Son in order that the Son might experience the full effect of God’s wrath.
The Romans often employed a unique method of punishment and discipline for their soldiers. If a group of soldiers had committed some crime or had shown a lack of bravery in battle, all of the men found guilty were lined up in a row. The first man was given a full cup of hemlock or some other deadly poison that created great pain in accordance to the amount that was drank. As is described in the book, Manners and Customs of the Bible, “If this first man had the courage, heart, and compassion, he could drink the full measure of the cup, ‘to its bitter dregs,’ and suffer all the pains — and perhaps death — of the poison himself. If he did, the rest of the men would go free. If he did not, the next man must drink the poison also — and he had the same choice as the first man: to drink the full measure of the poison and suffer its pains for the rest of his companions, or he could let them suffer the pains of their portions of the poison. Each man to whom the cup was passed had the same choice.”
We can be thankful today that when Jesus Christ was handed the cup of wrath and punishment for the sins of all humanity, he accepted it willingly and drank it fully. Despite His distress and apprehension at what was to come, He ultimately submitted His will to God in prayer. He closed his prayer with these words: “Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” We ought to make it a habit in our prayers, both public and private, that we submit willingly to God’s will even if it is not something that we want.
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Now, if you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your first prayer needs to be what we call the Sinner’s Prayer. First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. You have done the most important thing in life. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry which publishes a monthly magazine called The Torch Leader. He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University School of Divinity. He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica for over twenty-seven years. God has blessed their union with seven children. Find out more at www.danielwhyte3.com. Follow Daniel Whyte III on Twitter @prophetdaniel3 or on Facebook.