This article was adapted from the session titled “Do I Have the Strength? ” in the Spring 2017 issue of Explore the Bible: Adults. Explore the Bible is a book-by-book group Bible study that encourages participants to let the Word dwell in them and challenges them to live it out in their own context. Preview one month free at lifeway.com/explorethebible.
Do I Have the Strength?
Prayer changes things. For some people, that statement may not be much more than a cliché. But for growing Christians, it’s a dynamic life principle. Mature believers have learned to turn to the Lord in prayer when the sun rises and especially when a crisis arises. Spending time with Him in prayer gives us direction and resolve to face whatever challenge we see coming toward us.
In the hours leading up to His betrayal and arrest, Jesus sought the ear of His Father in the garden of Gethsemane. We may have difficulty reconciling Jesus’ divinity with His need to pray, but remember He was fully human as well as fully God. His experience not only revealed His humanity, but it also gives us an example to follow in our times of crisis.
After initiating the Lord’s Supper, Jesus led His disciples to Gethsemane (Matt. 26:36). He instructed eight of the disciples to stay behind, telling them He needed to go deeper into the garden to pray. Sometimes, in our most challenging moments, we need the solitary focus of being alone with God.
For the past few days, Jesus had been alerting His disciples to the gruesome reality of His certain death. Now, late into Thursday night, His anguish grew as He prepared for what would happen to Him within hours. In the trusted presence of His three closest disciples, waves of sorrow began to overwhelm Him (v. 38). Jesus knew the resurrection would come. Yet, in His humanity, the reality of suffering and dying was overshadowed only by the larger pain of taking our sin debt on Himself.
The weight of Jesus’ sorrow buckled Him, dropping Him to the ground (v. 39). But instead of screaming out into the darkness in tortured solitude, Jesus prayed. He didn’t give in to desperation. Rather, He turned to His Father and spoke honestly out of His agony.
Jesus asked about another way to provide salvation for sinners that wouldn’t be so unbearable for Him. The cup of suffering He was about to drink would mingle human torture and certain death with God’s wrath. The physical, emotional, and spiritual pain that awaited Him on the cross tore at His heart. But while Jesus asked about another path, He affirmed His willingness to do His Father’s will no matter what kind of anguish it would bring (vv. 39,42). Ultimately, Jesus knew the Father’s will and yielded to it.
In stark contrast to Jesus’ struggle with the cup of suffering that He would drink shortly, the disciples struggled with staying awake (vv. 40,43,45). They allowed sleep to overwhelm them; Jesus allowed His Father’s redemptive plan to seize Him. The time Jesus spent in prayer nurtured His resolve. Instead of retreating from what was about to happen, He moved toward it (v. 46).
As Jesus submitted His will to the Father, so can we find strength for difficulty by yielding ourselves to the Father’s plan. Like Jesus, we may pray passionately, but in the end we find peace as we embrace God’s will.
How might we be guilty of sleeping when we should be alert and praying?
What can we learn from Jesus’ prayer to apply in our own prayer life?
Excerpted from Explore the Bible: Matthew 14–28. © 2017 LifeWay Press®. Used by permission.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission.