Luke 22:39-46 Staying focused on the call by being devoted to the word and to prayer
Luke 22:39-46 Staying focused on the call by being devoted to the word and to prayer
39 And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him. 40 When He arrived at the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, 42 saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” 43 Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground. 45 When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, 46 and said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
Before proceeding to the Mount of Olives, Jesus taught the disciples concerning the fleshly instincts that caused them to deviate from the path of glory and blessing. While waiting for the hour of His arrest, He urged the disciples to be alert in prayer so that they would not yield to the temptation of fear and pass up on God’s calling for them. Today’s passage teaches believers to stay focused on the call by being devoted to the word and to prayer.
Pray that you may not enter into temptation
When Jesus said to His disciples, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” What kind of temptation did Jesus refer to? And how does prayer help Him and His disciples overcome temptations? Jesus was at that time referring to temptations that distract the believer from fulfilling God’s mission for him. The believer’s temptation could be understood in the light of Jesus’s own temptation. Considering Jesus being fully man, we can postulate some possible temptations that He may be facing.
- The temptation to run from suffering by justifying a more convenient way to achieving God’s mission.
- The temptation to think otherwise of God’s righteous nature…
– Thoughts of the unreasoning God who insists on the path of the cross as the only way
– Thoughts of the unjust God who causes the righteous to suffer unjustly for the exoneration of the wicked.
- The temptation to conceive hatred to justify the immediate destruction of the wicked.
How does prayer help Jesus at the moment of temptation?
- Prayer enables Jesus to overcome the pangs of darkness by the commanding presence of God.
- Prayer helps Jesus secure His mind-set and volition in the light of God’s righteousness and wisdom.
- Prayer is a means to supply the soul with God’s grace to resist the lust of flesh and pride of life.
The discipline of prayer secures for Jesus a divine commitment to do God’s will despite the overwhelming objections that emanated from His soul. What made it so excruciatingly difficult for Jesus is the fact that everything about the cross seemed so wrong and depressive. Victory seemed a long way away especially when He had on hand the divine authority to “set things right” (see John 13:3). And the cup that came with the cross is not only His to drink, but His mother’s and His disciples’ who would partake of the same cup! Jesus’s demeanour like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers (see Isaiah 53:7), attested to His wholehearted commitment and conviction concerning the way of the cross.
And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.
Following Jesus’s resolve to obey the Father’s will, the angels came and ministered to Him strengthening Him for what was anticipated a deluge of grief and suffering. Mark 14:34 recorded, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death.” And Matthew 26:38 recorded, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” Having submitted His will to God, Jesus’s prayer appeared to take on a different nature and purpose. He embraces the cross and drinks the cup of agony so intense that His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground. This agony originated from the grief and suffering of humanity, the foretaste of God’s wrath upon sinful man. Isaiah 53:4 wrote, “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” Jesus, in bearing our griefs, turned our sorrows into joy and mourning into dancing (see Psalms 30:11).
Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation
Jesus rose and came to His disciples finding them in a state of sorrow and despair. He chided them to persevere in prayer and not to be overcome by their fleshly weaknesses. What did Jesus mean when he said, “pray that you may not enter into temptation”? Jesus warns them of the temptation of giving up and taking the path of least resistance. Prayer enables one to stay steadfast in the Spirit and being vigilant against the suggestions of the devil. Before Jesus proceeded to Mount of Olives, He taught the disciples concerning the fleshly instincts that could distract the believer from his calling (see Luke 22:24-38):
Fear. Fear if left to reign unrestrained paralyses the believer causing him to stray from the course of his calling. When Jesus was arrested at the garden, fear took hold of the disciples causing them to flee.
Pride of life. The disciples disputed among themselves as to who was the greatest. The pride of life causes believers to focus on their self-centered agendas distracting them from God’s call.
Taking matters into one’s own hands. Peter, one of the disciples of Jesus declared that he would follow Jesus even unto death. He took matters into his own hands by attacking the servant of the priest with the sword.
Jesus taught the disciples to pray, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one,” (Matthew 6:13). Prayer connects believers to God who empowers them to stand against the temptations of fear, pride of life and complacency. When Jesus gave up His breathe having accomplished His work, the disciples would continue in pray in the calling of the Great Commission.
Believers will lose their calling and reward if they do not commit themselves to the word and to prayer.
The goal of the devil (if he cannot rob the believer of his salvation) is to cause him to be ineffective and lose his reward. The way to do that is to keep the believer from discovering his calling or to distract him from fulfilling it. The devil knew that he had to distract Jesus from being the perfect sacrifice by first staging a convenient escape from the cross (see John 12:20-26). When Jesus declined the invitations of the Greeks, the devil attempt to induce hatred by setting up His personal disciples to betray Him beginning with Judas, followed by Peter and the rest of the disciples who deserted Him. And lastly, rejection by the masses who pined for Barabbas’s release. Jesus’s ability to remain focused amidst the hurts and injustices is attributed to His unwavering devotion to the word and to pray.
The disciples prepared themselves to receive the outpouring of the promised Spirit by devoting themselves to prayer (see Acts 1:14). The apostles appointed deacons to serve the people so that they may devote themselves exclusively to prayer and to the ministry of the word (Acts 6:4). As a result, the word of God kept on spreading; and the number of disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem (Acts 6:7). The tremendous growth of the early church was attributed largely to the church’s devotion to the word and to prayer (see Acts 2:46).
The church today has lost its effectiveness because church leaders do not devote themselves sufficiently to the word and to prayer. They spend much of their time in administration and in growing the numbers. Because church leaders do not have sufficient depth in the revelation of the word, their teachings are like milk, consisting of the elementary principles of salvation and glib promises of blessing. Thus, their members remain immature, not being able to discern good and evil (see Hebrews 5:14). Because discernment is lacking, they are perennially trapped in their problems not being able to breakthrough. Although they have hope because of God’s love, but they have no faith to acquire the promises. Consequently, they pass up on their calling and lose their reward. Such are like Moses’s generation who having witnessed the cosmic miracles still could not exercise faith to conquer Canaan for themselves.
Devotion to the word and to prayer avails a continual supply of grace for the believer’s growth. Daily meditation on the word gives the believer a wealth of wisdom to discern God’s will and the authority to move mountains. Praying in the Spirit together with the word accelerate the imbuement of divine grace causing the believer to persevere towards the finishing line.
- Are you prone to fear and insecurity? Do pray the following:
Dear Lord, I acknowledge that you are in control all the time and there is nothing in this world that can separate me from your love. I declare that fear has no dominance over me. I arise in the Spirit of boldness to overcome the powers that hinder me from doing your will. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
- Are you prone to taking matters into your own hands? Do pray the following:
Dear Lord, I confess that I do not know the way to victory. I am deceived thinking that I can do it alone. Forgive me for my foolishness as I humble myself to seek your face. As you reject the proud and give grace to the humble, I lay down all my presuppositions concerning my future plans so that I can do your will. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
- If you are given to selfish agendas, pray the following:
Dear Lord, I confess that I harbor self-serving ambitions that seek to be trump over others. Forgive me of my selfish ways and give me a heart of servitude. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.