Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Agony of Jesus

Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

After the Last Supper, Jesus and His disciples went to the Mount of Olives. There Jesus knelt to pray. It would be easy for us as twentieth-century Christians to pass over this fact. However, in the ancient world, the usual posture for prayer was standing. Jesus broke with that tradition when He knelt. Why? I think the reason is obvious: The burden of His prayer was so heavy upon Him that the only possible posture for Him to assume was kneeling—the posture of the helpless supplicant.

He asked the Father to spare Him the cup that was coming, the cup of God’s wrath that He was to drink. From the moment of His birth, Jesus lived in the shadow of the Cross. Our Lord knew all along that He was destined for a horrible death, a death under the wrath of God. Now the hour had come, and Jesus naturally shrank from the utter horror of it. Nevertheless, He was willing to do whatever the Father required. Jesus greatly desired to evade the cup of God’s wrath, but there was something He desired even more, and that was to please His Father by doing His will.

After this prayer, an angel came from heaven and strengthened Jesus. The book of Hebrews says that angels are God’s messengers to minister to His elect (Hebrews 1:14). In answering Jesus’ prayer, the Father sent an angel, as if to say, “I’m sorry, Son, but You must drink the cup; however, here is an angel to give You strength for the task.”

Jesus prayed more earnestly, committing Himself anew to the Father’s will, and His sweat was like drops of blood. Many artists have painted this scene showing drops of blood dripping from Jesus’ forehead, but that is not in fact what is stated. Jesus’ struggle was so intense and He was perspiring so greatly that drops of sweat dripped from Him like blood from a wound.

Due to our societal conditioning, we, like Jesus, experience dread at the prospect of doing what is right when we know the personal consequences will be severe. Although conditioned by our society to avoid pain, strive to follow the model of Christ in doing right regardless of the cost.