2015-10-18 Getting The Help We Need

LUKE 22:39-46                                                                                OCTOBER 18, 2015


Knowing when and where to go for help is a necessary skill that makes life easier. The first hurdle is knowing when we need to ask for assistance. Ever since we were toddlers we expressed our independence by saying “I do it myself”. Since the Fall in the Garden of Eden, all mankind has sought to do everything without the assistance of God. We are often stubborn and don’t want to admit when we need help. We need help all of the time! The second hurdle we face is where do we go for help?  If I need assistance with electronic devices I go to someone much younger than myself. If I need wisdom I rarely go to a young person, as I am looking for someone with experience. In this passage we will see when and where Jesus turned asked for help as he was facing his time of trial and distress.

Whenever we forget the command of Jesus we will inevitably find ourselves in trouble. Jesus had given his disciples instructions and warnings during the Passover meal in the upper room. John 15:9-11 (NIV) 9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” Jesus had also just warned them in the upper room. Matthew 26:31 (NIV) 31 Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: “‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’”

Jesus and his disciples then went to the Garden of Gethsemane, an olive grove, where Jesus often went. Luke 22:39-40 (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.”  Jesus tells them to be in prayer so that they won’t yield to the temptation of running away. Even before Jesus goes to pray, he thinks first of his disciples and gives them a command. The word used here for prayer is a command.

Here in the garden we see the humanity of Jesus, struggling with what he knows is coming: his betrayal, arrest, trial, and crucifixion. Luke 22:41-42 (NIV) 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.”  We can clearly see how comfortable Jesus was in praying to his Father. Instead of standing in prayer, which was the normal position of prayer, he falls to his knees. Bending the knee is usually a sign of humility and petition.

Notice that in his request Jesus begins and ends with a commitment to do the will of God. 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”  Jesus asked if it was possible to take the cup of suffering away. Jesus was following the pattern of asking God to keep something bad from happening. Exodus 32:11-14 (NIV) 11 But Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God. “O LORD,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.'” 14 Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.” God heard the prayer request of Moses!

Jesus did not want to endure the suffering he was about to undergo, unless it was absolute necessary and there was no other way. This is why he prayed, “yet not my will, but yours be done.”  The cup of suffering is a reference to Isaiah. Isaiah 51:17 (NIV) 17 Awake, awake! Rise up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the LORD the cup of his wrath, you who have drained to its dregs the goblet that makes men stagger.” The cup of wrath and suffering is the penalty for the sins of his people. Jesus was going to suffer for the elect.

Luke 22:43-44 (NIV) 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.”  Before Jesus began his ministry he was in the wilderness for forty days and was tempted by Satan. Matthew 4:11 (NIV) 11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.”Jesus went to his Father and God sent an angel who came and ministered unto Jesus strengthening him for the task that lay ahead. In the garden Luke records that Jesus was so fervent in his prayers that “his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”  Luke does not say he sweated blood, but that it was like blood. Physicians have noted that on a few occasions individuals have perspired with a mixture of sweat and blood when in extreme anguish. (NIV study notes) It is clear that Jesus, being fully human, was greatly burdened as he was about to face intense suffering and rejection.

We understand from the other Gospels that Jesus spent several hours in prayer. Luke 22:45-46 (NIV) 45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”  The disciples had been dismayed when they learned that evening of the imminent betrayal of Jesus by one of their number. I have sympathy for the disciples falling asleep. But while Jesus prepared for the temptations that lay ahead of him, the disciples did the opposite of what Jesus had commanded them. Jesus had warned them of the trials that lay ahead of them. Instead of praying and being prepared like Jesus they had fallen asleep. So when the time arrived and Jesus was arrested, they were not prepared for action and they ran away.

We can learn from Jesus. Jesus understands our human frailty. Hebrews 4:15-16 (NIV) 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”Jesus endured the scorn and shame in our behalf. In his time of need Jesus turned to his Father and so should we. We see what happened to the disciples when they neglected to pray- they were not prepared by being strengthened by going to God. When we humbly submit ourselves to obeying God and honoring our commitment to serving him; He is with us.

Jonathan Edwards is famous for his sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, which launched the Great Awakening, a revival that swept through the country. When he preached the message, he read it in a monotone voice. Yet people, were weeping and falling to the ground. What is little known is that Jonathan Edwards had spent three days fasting and praying, without sleeping. He prayed over and over: “O LORD, give me New England.” Jonathan Edwards was prepared as he had spent time in prayer. God is the One who changes hearts and minds. In our own strength we will fail.

If we are to be ready for the trials that lay ahead of us, we must obey the command of Jesus to be in prayer. Jesus had to face his trial, because it was the will of His Father. We may ask to be relieved of facing various trials but all of us know that there are going to be struggles that we will have to face. The question is; are we willing to be prepared for the trials that we will face in this life?

Let us pray