We just finished a mini-series on prayer at our Church. It’s been an enriching time of study and reflection in my personal life, as I have evaluated my own prayer life in light of Scripture, and the examples laid before us by Jesus, Paul, even Old Testament Prophets. I don’t want to rehash those messages here, but you can listen to them at our YouTube page.
And 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 agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.Luke 22:41-44
Jesus displays for us an incredible example of prayer that is intricately woven into life. The only One who walked this earth, after stepping down from His throne in Heaven, still prayed. And I find myself stuck in this passage of Scripture from Luke 22, where Jesus is seen praying before His arrest, conviction, and death.
Read that passage again.
There is a rawness, a depth of anguish we see in this moment. The God-Man we saw triumphantly enter Jerusalem not long ago is now bent over on His knees in anguish of what is to come. I love C.S. Lewis’ reflection on this situation in his book, Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer.
But for this last (and erroneous) hope against hope, and the consequent tumult of the soul, the sweat of blood, perhaps He would not have ben very Man.Letters to Malcom, pg. 57
Lewis draws on something here I think is most significant, but easily overlooked. Jesus walked this earth in flesh for us. He stepped down from His throne to identify with us. Still God completely as Son, but also completely man, identifying with you and I. We see, even experience, Jesus in a light perhaps not as easily seen elsewhere in Scripture.
Jesus was a man.
It’s easy to get caught up in our emotions and begin to think we are alone. It’s easy to get trapped into thinking no one understands the things we go through, how difficult the situation we face really is. Sometimes, the hurt and the anguish can be so overwhelming we find ourselves struggling to function.
Jesus was a man, too.
When you face your hardships and you feel alone, remember you’re not. When you feel overcome by the world, like no one gets what you’re going through; remember, He did.
Jesus knelt and prayed in anguish for the cup He would bear to be passed from Him, if it was God’s Will. He understands in a very tangible way what suffering and hurt not only looks like; what it feels like.
I’ve had some intense moments in my life, but I have never been to the point of anguish to sweat blood. But my Savior has. He’s experienced hurt, betrayal, distress. And that gives me hope. It gives me strength.
I know I have someone with me who knows my pain, and I’m not left to face it alone.