Water for the Thirsty
Weekly Devotional

Water for the Thirsty

The Prayer of Jesus in the Garden

Weekly Devotional

‘As the deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you, O God’. (Psalm 42:1)
‘…Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink”…’ (John 7:37)

1st April 2012

Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane is one of the most profound, awesome, revealing prayers of all time. He simply said, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

This majestic prayer has four parts:

1. The address: ‘Father’

When you observe a person under pressure, you learn a great deal about them. Here Jesus was under supreme pressure and yet He had this wonderfully assured address. Mark's Gospel includes the more intimate Aramaic word, "Abba." (Mark 14:36).

Even though Jesus was going through His greatest trial He was still able to approach God as His Abba Father, and He invites you and me to do the same (Luke 11:2).

There is something wonderfully comforting about the immense privilege of calling God "Father." He is our Father when our whole world is falling down around us, even when we are the point of death.

He is our forever Father.

2. The condition: If you are willing

Jesus states a condition in this desperate prayer: "If you are willing...." This is a bit different from Matthew's and Mark's accounts: "If it is possible...." (Matthew 26:39) "Everything is possible for you." (Mark 14:36)

Yet in reality there is no difference in the accounts. What the Father wills is possible. Jesus is asking if the Father can, in the realm of his will and purpose, create a way for the cross to be avoided.

But Jesus' desire is for the Father's desire, intention and glory. Only if Jesus' prayer can be answered within the scope of his Father's purpose does He want it answered.

He doesn't ask if the Father will permit it; he asks if the Father desires it. He says, ‘Only, Father, if you desire it, do I make this request’.

We too should pray in accordance with God’s will, for His glory and not for our own desires so that we can be exalted.

3. The petition: Take this cup from me

Jesus asks the Father to remove the cup from him. In the Old Testament the term ‘cup’ especially refers to the punishment associated with the wrath of God (Psalm 75:8; Jeremiah 25:15, 17, 28; Lamentations 4:21; Ezekiel 23:31–33; Habakkuk 2:16).

Jesus’ destiny was to drink the full scope of the ‘cup’ of God’s wrath against sin.

He who knew no sin was to become sin in order to take our punishment as the sin-bearer (Isaiah53; 2 Corinthians 5:21). The destiny of the sin-bearer is utter desecration as the full weight of our sins - lust and hatred, greed and deceit, theft, promiscuity, anger and murder, selfishness and betrayal etc – is laid upon Him.

In the Garden Jesus can feel what it will be like the next day when the sheer weight of the world’s sins literally crushes him and snuffs out his life.

Is Jesus' plea to the Father one of weakness? Or was it a prayer to spare the Father what it will cost him, too? We can imagine the pain to the Son, but can we imagine the pain to the Father?

We don’t know. But we do know that Jesus, ‘For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame’ (Hebrews 12:2) and ‘he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!’ (Philippians 2:8)

His cup was the drunk down to the very dregs, to take on himself the wrath of God that we deserve for our sin. Can we fault him for praying, “Take this cup from me”?

4. Submission: Not my will but yours

In other words, your will Father is primary, mine is secondary. Jesus yields, submits, surrenders to the Father's decision. Jesus has a preference - that the cup be removed. But he voluntarily surrenders that preference if the Father's will differs.

There’s a lot for us to learn in this example. It is not wrong to come to God with a preference. But, following Jesus, after we have clearly stated our preference openly, it is then appropriate to pray, "yet not my will, but yours be done."

Our will may very well be God's will. But it may not be. To discern God's will, we must state our own will and then surrender it to God.

In this prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane, we have one of the foundational prayers of the entire Bible.

Have a good week learning its lessons.

Pastor Barry

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