Explore the Bible Study: Willing

10:36 AM

 

"An overworked man who carried the weight of the world on his shoulders" is how a 2017 Washington Post article described the pressures facing General Dwight D. Eisenhower as he prepared to send over 5,000 ships, 11,000 airplanes, and over 150,000 service men into harms way on D-Day, June 6, 1944. How would it feel knowing you were facing situations that required making painful, yet very necessary decisions that would affect countless people? Would you be tempted to let someone else take on the responsibility? Jesus is moving forward with one of the most important yet most painful decisions of His life in our passage for this weeks Explore the Bible Study: Willing.

Following the Passover meal and Jesus instituting the Lord’s Supper, Jesus led His disciples from the upper room and away from the city. They crossed the Kidron Valley and returned to the Mount of Olives, where Jesus spent several evenings during this week. The garden of Gethsemane was a special place where Jesus and the disciples often retreated for prayer (Mark 14:32). 

Leaving the disciples to watch, He went a bit further to pray alone. We will discover in Jesus’ prayer how the weight of the world’s sins was on His shoulders. Jesus had been moving toward this moment in history, fully knowing that what was to come would be something difficult to bear, yet would be necessary in order to restore a sin-broken world and bring peace between God and sinful man.

We see this weight expressed as Jesus begins to pray in Luke 22:41-44

Notice Jesus’ actions. First, Jesus withdrew from them about a stone’s throw. Second, Jesus knelt down taking position of submission before the Father. Third, Jesus began to pray. He prayed at length with deep intensity. Finally, Jesus addressed God as Father when He prayed. 

Do you believe we can address God as “Father”? 

John 1:12 reminds us that, “to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name.” We are told in Romans 8:14-16 that “All those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. Instead, you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.”

Is your relationship with God so secure that you are confident in calling Him, “Father”?

How would knowing you could talk to God like you would a loving father change your approach to Him in prayer, when facing a difficult circumstance or decision?

Luke goes on to tell us that God sent an angel to strengthen Him, but the burden was still heavy. Jesus was praying this cup would be taken from Him, if it was the Lord’s will.  If we aren’t careful, we begin to think that Jesus is desiring not do what He set out to do for us. Adrian Rogers describes Jesus’ anguishing prayer this way: “In His holy humanity, Jesus shrank back. But in His divine love, He said, ‘Thy will be done.’ Jesus wrestled between His holy humanity and His divine love.” (source: https://www.lwf.org/sermons/audio/the-cup-1776)

We need to understand that our suffering and distress is never as much as His would be. Yet, how often do we “pass the cup to someone else” because it is just too difficult to bear? 

Many of us respond as the disciples did in Luke 22:45-46

Prior to Jesus going on alone to spend time praying, He had told the disciples in verse 40 to “Pray that you may not fall into temptation.” Now, after this gut wrenching, soul-searching prayer time with His Father, Jesus comes back to find His disciples sleeping instead of praying. Like bookends, He said to them again, “Get up and pray, so that you won’t fall into temptation."

The gospel of Matthew gives us more insight into Jesus’ conversation with the disciples while He was praying, particularly Peter. Matthew 26:40-41 tells us that Jesus talks with Peter specifically: “So, couldn’t you stay awake with Me one hour? Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Likewise, Jesus desires for us to pray today. It breaks His heart, not because He has some narcissistic desire for attention, but because He KNOWS how prayer can strengthen us and protect us from falling into temptation, so much so that He even included this in the Lord’s Prayer – see Matthew 6:9-13. 

When you are overcome by grief or anguish do you sleep, or do you pray?  

How can prayer keep you from temptation when you are experiencing such grief or anguish? 

Now the moment Jesus had been preparing for begins to unfold. Notice how those who hadn’t been praying respond, and notice how Jesus responds in Luke 22:47-53.

One might think that the disciples’ actions were justified, yet Jesus had just warned them to pray that they might not fall into temptation. Sadly, this would not be the only temptation to which they would succumb during this event. Had they prayed, we might be reading a different account of this and all that took place prior to Jesus’ crucifixion and death.

The Gospel of Matthew reminds us that God is always at work and in control. When Jesus was arrested, He said, “do you think that I cannot call on My Father, and He will provide Me at once with more than 12 legions of angels?  . . .  But all this has happened so that the prophetic Scriptures would be fulfilled.” (Matthew 26:53-56)

God is always at work, and, even when the world around us seems to be falling apart, He is still in control. 

When we are facing situations that prompt grief, anguish, doubt, anger, or fear, we should understand that God is a loving Father whom we can approach. When we approach Him, we should not look for ways to “pass the cup” to someone else but should ask that God would give us the strength to face life’s issues without falling into temptation. Our greatest temptation as exhibited by the disciples is to sleep, take matters into our own hands, or run away.  However, we see from Jesus’ response that it is best to allow God’s plan to unfold and to remain faithful.

Jesus left the joy of the Passover celebration to embrace the agony of His mission. Prayer was the central message in these passages. It was prayer that enabled Jesus to resist temptation, and it was this message He was teaching the disciples closest to Him—pray so that you may not enter into temptation (Luke 22:39-65)

Jesus was going to face so much, beginning with the betraying kiss of Judas, the denial from one of His closest disciples, Peter, and the humiliation of the mocking soldiers. He labored in prayer, knowing that only the strength of the Father could sustain Him through what He was about to face. 

Resources for Group Leaders

Optional Video
Sermons contrasting the cup of remembrance and the cup of suffering
The downloadable teaching helps provide more details for this study along with some tools you can use in guiding a group Bible study. Be sure to use this as a supplement to your study of the Explore the Bible Study resources provided by LifeWay.

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