I want to be strong. I want to be tough. I want to be unafraid.
Trying to be strong has a correlation with a particular fear that you may have. For example, you want to be physically strong. You try to build muscle through working out because there is a particular fear that you don’t want to be bullied by anyone. Another example, you want to be emotional strong. Your whole family is down due to financial problems, but you don’t want to be affected by it, so you try to encourage everyone and carry the burden of showing everyone there is still hope. Because if you won’t do this, you fear everything might crumble down, and your whole family might end up losing their faith.
There is a particular fear that is wrong, but I believe there is a fear that is right as well most especially if it’s fear for the well-being of someone else. Fear is an emotion and I believe the best way, to counter this feeling is through prayer. Through prayer, we can find the strength that we need to battle fear or other emotions related to it.
Let’s look at the Prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane in Mark 14:32-38.
32 They came to a place named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here until I have prayed.” 33 And He took with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be very distressed and troubled. 34 And He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.” 35 And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. 36 And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.” 37 And He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? 38 Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Gethsemane means “oil press” and currently, ancient olive trees are still found in this garden. We have to understand that this is a place where He and his disciples commonly pray. In John 18:2, Judas knew where to find Jesus because he knows where he would usually go with his disciples.
In verse 32 when they arrive in Gethsemane, Jesus ask his disciples to sit here while He prays but it’s surprising to note that from His group he specifically asked Peter, James and John (verse 33) to accompany him.
Jesus is 100% God and 100% human, it was perfectly normal for him to desire companionship during this time. Jesus was under heavy emotions that he felt very distressed and troubled. It was a very heavy feeling. A feeling of terrified amazement; gripped with terror. And Peter, James and John was the ones who was with him in the Home of Jarius (Mark 5:37) and Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9:2).
I believe Jesus wanted to teach Peter, James and John a lesson also. The three are leaders who will be able to teach the other not to rely on their self-confidence during this time. They need to learn to be alert, not to give in the temptation and most especially pray. Jesus addresses that in verse 38.
Only in the book Mark will see how Jesus address the Father in his prayer.
35 And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. 36 And He was saying, “Abba! Father!…
Abba means “papa” or “daddy” and it showed his relationship and intimacy with His father. Upon starting this prayer, He understood whom He was talking. Because in times of weakness:
- Strength is gained through knowing who you have beside you
- Strength is gained through knowing who you have supporting you
- Strength is gained through knowing who you have taking care of you
Jesus prayed in and said “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.”
We mustn’t think that the Lord feared death or that the physical suffering ahead was overwhelming for Him. It was the thought of being separated from His Father that was so intense that it was to the point of death because of sheer agony. In Luke 22:44, Jesus had such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood. He knew would be made sin for us – 2 Corinthians 5:2. He would bear the sins of the whole (1 Peter 2:24) and the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13). And because of this, he would experience being forsaken by His Father (Matthew 27:46). The cause of His overwhelming anguish and distress, but he said “Yet not what I will, but what You will.”
Jesus did not wrestle with the Father’s will. He willing submitted to it. That’s why in verse 35 you would see He “fell to the ground” as a sign of surrender. Three times He prayed this and three times He acknowledge His father’s will.
He saw his disciples sleeping, and this is what He said.
38 Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
He wanted to teach his disciples a lesson. They needed to be alert and sharp because a lot will happen in the next couple of minutes – Jesus will be arrested, disciples will be scattered (mentioned in the same chapter in Mark); Peter will deny Jesus, Jesus will be in Trial and then crucified. From Wiersbe Bible commentary – “Be alert as you pray! Keep your spiritual eyes open, for the enemy is near!” Judas is already coming with soldiers to hand over Jesus.
In times of weakness, the enemy will always target the flesh. How easy is it at times when we’re tired and emotionally down to get easily irritated. If we put our guard down, worldly pleasure or desire can easily lure us. Busyness resulting in physical deterioration can result in worrying and stress.
In this example, in the few moments the disciples will be scattered because their master will be arrested and crucified. They will abandon him and feel weak without a leader. But they are to be strong, alert and not give in to the temptation. They should remember the things Jesus taught them and remain spiritually connected through prayer.
That is our defence whenever we feel weak and vulnerable. Jesus modelled it. You may be going through a lot of problems and trials. Follow what Jesus did during this time of distress. He shared to His Father what he felt. He was Honest. He was connected with the Lord in prayer. He was Intimate. And He submitted to the will of the Lord. He Surrendered.
In the end, we find our strength in God alone. Remember you are HIS, and He cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7 – Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
Note from the author: This is an excerpt from my message in B1G South TOP (Time of Prayer) entitled “Finding Strength Through Prayer”. The B1G South ministry is the singles ministry of CCF Alabang. We have service every Saturday at 6pm at the 3rd floor of CCF Alabang. Everyone is invited! I would love to meet you if you have time to visit.