Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Praying For Relief

Matthew 26:31-46

“Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.  But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.

Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.

Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.

Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.” (Matthew 26:31-35)

After eating the Passover and taking communion, Jesus and his disciples went to the Mount of Olives to spend the night.  Jesus warned them that that very night all of them would be offended because of him.  The word translated offended means to cause to trip or stumble.  Because of what would happen to him, Jesus said everyone of his disciples would experience serious doubts and the group would be demoralize and scatter.  His resurrection would cause them to reunite and he would meet them in Galilee.  John 21 describes their meeting at the Sea of Tiberias, better known as the Sea of Galilee.

Peter immediately spoke up that he would never doubt Jesus, even if everyone else turned away.  Jesus warned him that before the rooster crowed the second time Thursday morning, Peter would have denied him three times.  Peter could not imagine anything that would make him doubt the lord and said he would never deny Jesus, even if the killed him.  While they were less vocal about it, the other disciples were just as sure they would not deny the Lord or be turned away.
“Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.  And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.  Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.” (Matthew 26:36-38)

When they came to the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked his disciples to sit down and wait while he went to pray privately.  Accompanied by Peter, James and John, Jesus went further into the garden.  Knowing what he was facing in the next few hours created a lot of tension and stress, to point he shared feeling like it would be better to die than to go through what was coming.  He just asked them to be there to support him.

“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.” (Matthew 26:39)

No matter how much people support us, they can neverdeal with the problems for us.  Jesus went a little further and asked the Lord to do what needed to be done another way if it were possible.    If it was necessary he do this, and he believed it was, he was willing to go ahead with the original plan to please God. 

“And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?  Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:40-41)

When Jesus came back to Peter, James, and John, he found them asleep.  Despite their best intentions to support him, they could not grasp the emotional and spiritual burden Jesus was carrying and yielded to their bodies’ demands for sleep.  He warned them that they needed to be in prayer if they were to avoid discouragement in the coming hours. 

“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.  And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.  And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.” (Matthew 26:42-44)

After a short time, the tension built up and Jesus again went and prayed the same prayer.  When he returned the disciples were asleep again so he went back and prayed again saying the same thing, without disturbing their sleep, putting their peace ahead of his own sense of distress.

“Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.  Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.” (Matthew 26:45-46}

When he came back the third time, Jesus told them they should rest while they could, because they wouldn’t be able to once he was arrested, which was imminent.  In fact they needed to get ready because there was no more time.  The group sent to arrest him was just entering the garden.

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