We learn from Jesus in his final prayer time in the Garden of Gethsemane that we can be bold to ask God for what our hearts desire. Repeatedly. Passionately. Yet, we should fully surrender to the One who in control of the situation and the outcome to his glory…
32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”
35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
39 Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.
41 Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed that God the Father would relieve him of his duty. “Take this cup from me…” We can see why. He was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. He felt like he was going to die from the stress.
Most of us have prayed this prayer. Take it away, God. Make it go away. Make it stop. Put this on someone else’s plate. I don’t want to do this, Lord…
In desperation, we cry out to God for relief in these times, and it is possible for God to give us relief. Except in this case. This was not going to get easier for Jesus. There was no other way.
Jesus was sent to earth in the form of a human specifically for this purpose. Jesus is the only spotless and unblemished sacrificial lamb who takes away the sin of the world. The old hymn, No Not One, teaches us, “There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus. No not one, no not one. No one else could heal all our soul’s diseases.” Indeed. Only Jesus.
We see that interwoven in this story is unfaithfulness of Jesus’ followers. This is right after Jesus telling Peter that he will deny his Lord three times that night. Now, in this next vignette, Peter, James, and John were caught sleeping when they were supposed to be guarding Jesus. Three times. All three of them. Underscoring that in this essential moment of truth, they were not up to the task. Only Jesus was. Only Jesus.
And so, in the depth of his sorrow and under the enormous pressure of his destiny at the hands of his enemies, Jesus surrendered. Don’t think this is surrender to those enemies. It was not. Jesus didn’t surrender to the Romans or the Jewish religious leaders. He didn’t surrender to Satan or the forces of evil. No.
Jesus surrendered to his Father’s will. “Yet not what I will, but what you will.” That was his prayer. We see here that he went away from his followers to pray this three times. I imagine that he prayed both parts three times. If it is possible to take this away, Father, please take it. Yet, not what I will, but what you will. Three times.
The Father knew how Jesus felt. And Father God knew that Jesus was fully committed to his mission as Saviour of the world. So what can we learn from this for our own relationship with God?
Be bold to ask God for what your heart desires. Ask repeatedly. With passion. With fervor. And always complete your prayer time with full surrender. Trust that God is in control of the situation, of your surrender, and of the outcome to his glory.