Luke 22 verses 42-44. “Father, if you are wiling, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done. An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”
We should never underestimate the powers of darkness. If ever they displayed their might, it was now at this point in the Gospel story as Jesus was about to surrender his life for the salvation of all those who would believe in him. Jesus was now in that place the other Gospels call Gethsemane.
He told his disciples, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation” (v40). Evil was about to gather all its forces and combine them with human sinfulness to prevent, if possible, the will of God from being done. The temptation the disciples would face would be to avoid the battle, to give in, to run away and to fail to do the will of God. This is always our temptation. We sometimes stand in awe at the testimonies we hear of those who refused to give up their Christian faith, because we are not sure we would have the same courage.
Jesus withdrew a stone’s throw away from his disciples and prayed on his own – almost as if he was illustrating that the coming battle against darkness would depend on him and on him alone. If He failed, all would be lost: if he triumphed, he would secure a victory that would be irreversible.
So the King knelt down on the Mount of Olives. A few days previously he had come down this same mountain acclaimed by people as King (19 verses 35-38). But then he found Jerusalem, the City of God, in the hand of rebels, and the temple, designed to teach the people God’s law, was utilised by robbers. How could such darkness, rebelliousness and spiritual blindness be overcome? How could people be saved from judgement and restored again to the true worship of God?
It would certainly not be accomplished by riding a royal mount through the streets. Nor would it be accomplished by any sort of pomp and ceremony. If ever Israel was to turn to God something bigger was to happen, and it was now beginning to happen in Gethsemane. Messiah himself must obey the will of God here on earth and in that way make it possible for others to be saved and made obedient to God once again.
So the King knelt down. What happened then? We will see tomorrow.