3/24/16 Thursday Morning Reflection
The Day Before Jesus’s crucifixion.
The Greatest Prayer.
People pray and fire falls from heaven. The lame walk, hungry are fed, and the dead come to life. Look at the story of the church in Acts: every major move of God in that book comes about in response to the prayers of God’s people. The night before Jesus’s resurrection we see Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane.
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Hebrews 5:7
And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:36
Hebrews teaches that, precisely because of his “godly fear,” Jesus “was heard,” that is, he received his request. But the cup was not removed. He suffered the fullness of physical pain and divine wrath. So in what sense was Jesus “heard because of his reverence”?
He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Luke 22:41–44
The angel bears God’s message that there is no other way, but I will help you. Do not turn from your mission now, in spite of the terrifying prospect. I will help you. Here is my angel to strengthen you. Jesus prayed three separate times here. We see this movement as he goes from the prayer to remove this cup in the first to a different prayer in the second.
Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” Matthew 26:42
The Greatest act of obedience:
This was the greatest act of obedience that Christ was to perform. He prays for strength and help, that his poor feeble human nature might be supported, that he might not fail in this great trial, that he might not sink and be swallowed up, and his strength so overcome that he should not hold out, and finish the appointed obedience. He was afraid lest his poor feeble strength should be overcome, and that he should fail in so great a trial, that he should be swallowed up by that death that he was to die, and so should not be saved from death; and therefore he offered up strong crying and tears unto him that was able to strengthen him, and support, and save him from death, that the death he was to suffer might not overcome his love and obedience, but that he might overcome death, and so be saved from it.
God saved Jesus from death because he was obedient. His prayers were answered.“ He was heard for his godly fear.” God did save him from the threat that such a death posed to his obedience. Jesus did succeed. There is salvation for all who believe. There will be a new world full of the glory of God’s grace and God’s children. And all of this is owing to the greatest prayer in the world. Every hope of the gospel succeeds because of Jesus’s reverent earnestness in prayer, and the answer of the Father.
The Lamb would have the reward of his suffering. He will “see his offspring; he will prolong his days; the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he will see and be satisfied” (Isa. 53:10–11). Surely this is why Hebrews 12:2 could say, “For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross.” Beneath the terrors of present agony was the taste of future joy. The angel had come, “strengthening him” — clarifying, confirming, connecting the coming joy.
There’s a lot to learn from the way Jesus prays and the way God answers. I find myself being so stubborn and controlling of everything. There are always answers in our prayers and some it’s not always exactly what we want to hear but exactly what we need.