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Praying Through the Pain of God’s Will (Luke 22:39-53)

Luke 22:39–53 - 39 And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him. 40 When He arrived at the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, 42 saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” 43 Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground. 45 When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, 46 and said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 47 While He was still speaking, behold, a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was preceding them; and he approached Jesus to kiss Him. 48 But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” 49 When those who were around Him saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” 50 And one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51 But Jesus answered and said, “Stop! No more of this.” And He touched his ear and healed him. 52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders who had come against Him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs as you would against a robber? 53 “While I was with you daily in the temple, you did not lay hands on Me; but this hour and the power of darkness are yours.” What does today’s passage say? In today's passage, Jesus went to the Mount of Olives to pray (v. 39). He asked His disciples to pray so they would not fall into temptation, but found them sleeping instead (vv. 40, 45-46). Jesus was in such anguish that His sweat was like blood as he prayed for God's will to be done, even if it meant great suffering for Him (vv. 41-44). After rising and finding His disciples sleeping, as He was speaking to them, a crowd arrived led by Judas to arrest Jesus (v. 47).  As Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss to show the soldiers who He was, His disciples ask if they should attack.  Before Jesus answers, Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant (vv. 48-50). But Jesus stops the violence and healed the servant (v. 51). Jesus then rebukes the religious leaders for coming at Him like they would come for a common criminal in the middle of the night even though He had been with them every day that week in the temple (vv. 52-53). How can I apply Luke 22:39-53 to my life? When life gets difficult, we all look for ways to avoid pain. Jesus Himself pleaded for God to remove the suffering He was about to face. Yet He submitted to God's will, even though it meant arrest and death on a cross. We should follow Jesus' example of surrendering to God's plan, praying "not my will but yours be done." It's also easy to criticize those who hurt us. When soldiers arrived to unjustly arrest Jesus, Peter tried to fight them. But Jesus stopped Peter and miraculously healed the injured soldier instead. Though hard, Jesus calls us to show compassion and forgiveness even to enemies who persecute us. And while the religious leaders appeared righteous outwardly, Jesus saw their hypocrisy - pretending to follow God while plotting murder. Like them, we often hide jealous, selfish, and indifferent attitudes behind spiritual masks. Yet Jesus sees straight through to our hearts. Rather than condemn, He wants to heal our duplicity and make us authentic. Here are some basic principles from this passage that we should apply to our lives:

  1. Pray that You Will Not Fall into Temptation (vv. 39-40, 45-46): Jesus specifically asked His disciples to pray so that they would not fall into temptation. However, He found them sleeping instead of interceding for strength to resist. We must learn from their failure and be spiritually alert in prayer. With God's help, we can stand firm when facing temptation instead of becoming overwhelmed and giving in. As followers of Christ, we desperately need to ask God regularly to fortify us against the pulls toward sin. Whether temptation arises from the enemy, the world, or our own sin nature, consistently crying out empowers us to withstand rather than crumble. Maintaining a prayerful dependence on the Spirit enables us to hold fast to righteousness in the heat of tempting situations. Just as the disciples should have prayed, we must diligently ask God to guard our hearts so that we will not fall. He promises to provide a way out if we will lean on Him rather than ourselves (Matthew 26:41, 1 Corinthians 10:13, James 1:2-4).

Food for thought: When have you cried out to God for help in the face of strong temptation? What happened as a result of your desperate prayer?

  1. Always Pray for the Will of God to be Done Even When It Might Be Different from What You Want (vv. 41-42): Jesus prayed so earnestly that He sweat was like drops like blood, pleading for God to take away the agonizing path ahead. Yet He surrendered to the Father's will rather than His own desire to avoid suffering. We must follow Christ's model when our wishes differ from God's perfect plan. Though heartbreaking in the moment, submitting to His purposes over our own demonstrates profound trust in His goodness and sovereignty. As believers, yielding our preferences is difficult, especially relating to painful or confusing circumstances. Yet, if Jesus asked for the cup to pass while affirming devotion to the Father's way, how much more should we? If the Son pleaded for the destiny ahead yet ultimately trusted the Father knew best, we too can relinquish our grip on outcomes through prayer (Matthew 6:10, Romans 12:1-2, 1 John 5:14-15).

Food for thought: When have you struggled to accept God's will over your own? What helped you surrender your desires to Him?

  1. Have Compassion for Those Who Persecute You (vv. 47-51): As a group of men wielding swords and clubs came to arrest Jesus in the dark of night, Peter drew his own sword in defense, striking the high priest’s servant Malchus and cutting off his ear. But Jesus rebuked Peter’s aggression, miraculously restored Malchus’s ear, and spared His accusers without retaliation. Despite personal peril, He modeled remarkable compassion upon the oppressor. As Christ followers, we must reflect this same spirit toward enemies, not avenging injustice but loving unconditionally. This seems abnormal in a world where we instinctively protect self and strike back when attacked. But as citizens of God’s upside-down kingdom, we are told to absorb hostility without payback, demonstrating mercy in hopes that abusers might come to know the redeeming Savior whose grace transformed us. While worldly wisdom says destroy threats, we bless them. Where human nature wants to recoil, we approach. If Jesus showed care for the man arresting Him, should we do less for those causing harm? We pass on what we’ve freely received (Matthew 5:43-48; Acts 7:59-60; Romans 5:6-10).

Food for thought: Share about a time you showed unusual compassion to an enemy. What did you learn about yourself and them?

  1. Always Remember that Jesus Knows the Wickedness and Hypocrisy of Our Hearts (vv. 52-53): Jesus had already spoken of the fact that one of the disciples would betray Him.  Now He calls out the hypocrisy of the religious leaders. Jesus knows hidden thoughts and motives with divine precision. As officers illegitimately arrested Him, He called out their outward religiosity versus determined wickedness to murder God’s Anointed One. His insight exposes our similar duplicity. As believers, we often pretend obedience while masking jealousies, impure priorities, self-focused attitudes, and indifference that contradict our claims of loving Him supremely. We play spiritual while harboring hypocrisy that dulls us to the state of our drifting souls. But we must recall and submit to the Christ who discerns minds and hearts, confessing that He understands perfectly when we honor Him with lips but not lives. He gazes directly into our deepest ugliness, not to condemn but to heal, offering transforming grace if we drop pretenses and welcome purging. Let us invite His surgically accurate vision exposing where we conceal faults or make self-protecting excuses. As we yield to His probing inspection, He cleanses and liberates us to enjoy authentic connection (Psalm 44:20-21; Jeremiah 17:9-10; 1 John 1:5-10).

Food for thought: When were you recently convicted of “playing spiritual”? What restores you to authenticity before God and others? When temptation strikes, we often try to resist it alone leading to failure. But Jesus tells us to pray for strength to stand firm. By crying out to God desperately and frequently, His Spirit enables us to withstand rather than crumble. We must also pray God's will be done in our lives, even when it differs from our own. Though heartbreaking to surrender our desires, trusting God's way demonstrates our faith in His goodness and wisdom. Additionally, we are called to show remarkable compassion even to enemies who hurt us unfairly. While retaliation may be expected, we bless and do good to those who persecute, passing on the grace freely given to us. And we must invite Jesus to expose areas where we pretend faithfulness but hide sin that contradicts loving Him supremely. Rather than condemn our hypocrisy, He offers healing transformation into authenticity. Applying these principles empowers us to overcome temptation, accept God’s will, extend uncommon grace, and embrace honest transparency. Prayer Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that You would strengthen me to stand firm when temptation strikes. Help me cry out to You frequently so your Spirit can empower me to resist rather than give in. I also ask that You would give me the courage and trust to surrender my will for Your perfect plan, even when it leads through pain, knowing You are always good. Please empower me to show compassion by blessing enemies and doing good to those who persecute me. Use your saving grace in my life to compellingly draw others to You. And I ask You to expose any hypocrisy in me where I pretend faithfulness but hide jealous thoughts or impure motives. Cleanse these areas with your healing truth so that authentic connection with You and others may flourish. I pray these things in the most precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Luke 22:42 - “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” With His Blessings, Pastor Corby

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