Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane. He said to the disciples, “Stay here while I go and pray over there.” When he took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, he began to feel sad and anxious. Then he said to them, “I’m very sad. It’s as if I’m dying. Stay here and keep alert with me.” Then he went a short distance farther and fell on his face and prayed, “My Father, if it’s possible, take this cup of suffering away from me. However—not what I want but what you want” (Matthew 26:36-39, Common English Bible).
The picture on the left above is probably the most traditional and recognizable of all the pictures of Jesus praying in the Garden. We see this picture all the time, particularly in church buildings. Sometimes we see it framed and hanging on the wall. At other times we see it in stained glass windows. There is little doubt it is the most common for people to see.
That picture bothers me. It isn’t Biblical at all. The only thing that picture has in common with the picture described in Matthew 26:36-39 is, Jesus is praying in the Garden. Other than that, it isn’t even the same picture. When we listen to Matthew’s words, “I’m very sad. It’s as if I’m dying…. Then he went a short distance farther and fell on his face and prayed…” The picture has this very serene, calm and collected Jesus praying as if he had no clue anything was about to happen. This isn’t a man who feared he was dying. Additionally, he isn’t prostrate, face to the ground.
I believe the picture top right above is far closer to what Jesus would have looked like in prayer that night. He is upset. He knows what is coming and is begging for it not to happen. And yet, he submits to the will of God.
The thing that impresses me most in this story is, even though Jesus knew what was about to happen, he stopped and prayed. He prayed that God takes the future he sees away, but then he is still willing to do what has to be done.
How often do we forget to pray when things get tough? And friends, I don’t mean we are about to die tough. Further, we, at best grumble pretty loudly when things don’t go our way. So much for “Not what I want, but what you want.
There is an old choir anthem I remember hearing probably a gillion times over the years. The chorus says, “He could have called ten thousand angels, to destroy the world and set him free. He could have called ten thousand angels, B=but he died alone, for you and me.”
He fell on his face. And, in the end, said, “Not what I want but what you want.” Thanks be to Jesus, the Savior of the world, that he was willing to endure and die, for you and for me.
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Joy and Thankfulness,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved