“He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done’”.
Lk 22: 41, 42 NIV
There are many different images of Jesus we regard as typical. He is the boy who flummoxed the scholars in the temple, the good shepherd who looks for the lost sheep, and the miracle worker who heals the sick and feeds the multitude. He is the authoritative figure who calms the storm, the friend of sinners, and the gentle man who blesses little children.
But there is more to Jesus than the soft and kind characteristics. In the garden of Gethsemane, on the eve of his arrest, we find Jesus the Son of God at prayer. With death only a few hours away, he engages with his Father in heaven in deep, powerful and agonizing prayer. So intense is the wrestling that drops of sweat like blood drop from his body. Not just his mind but his whole body, soul and spirit join in the agony that grips him. Part of him shrinks from the battle that is looming. Another part submits with strength, calmness and courage to what he knows is the Father’s will. He is totally alone, from a human point of view, whilst the battle rages within him. And one of the accounts tells us that the disciples slept.
As we approach the crucifixion never forget that Jesus agonized over his life and his death in the garden. Then, the battle done and the victory won, he went forth to face his enemies.
When you have a big decision to make, wrestle in prayer and submit to God’s will. Live through Gethsemane as well.
Father, not my will but yours be done – in all things.