The Gospel of Luke - Part 95
Preparing thru Prayer — Luke 22:39-46, continued

October 14, 2007
(These notes are based on lesson notes prepared by Rob Mahon for connection class leaders at Hoffmantown Church.)

Review:

We are in the section of Luke 22 that we entitled Preparing the Disciples. Remember that we are in the last week of Jesus’ life here on earth, at least the first time.

We outlined Chapter 22 as:
A.   Preparing for the Passover     (22:1-13)
B.   Preparing the Disciples (1)   (22:14-23)
C.   Preparing the Disciples (2)   (22:24-38)
D.   Preparing thru Prayer   (22:39-46)
E.   Preparing for the Cross   (22:47-71)

Last time, we completed our study of the Last Supper, which finished Section C and the preparation of the Disciples. We saw Jesus reaffirm to the Disciples, and to us, that He will provide everything we need to carry out His plan in our lives, not what we just desire, that was not the promise, but what we need.

Then we opened Section D with Jesus’ preparation of himself through prayer. They left the Upper room and walked over to the Mount of Olives and into the Garden of Gethsemane. We validated where that was and what it was.

Let’s pick up the record with their entry into the Garden of Gethsemane.

And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” —Luke 22:39-46
Remember that Matthew and Mark go into greater detail concerning Jesus’ time in the garden, so we are going to study Matthew’s account rather than Luke’s.
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. —Matthew 26:36-44
Focusing on The Disciples:  What are some things we learn about the disciples in this passage?
Then Jesus … said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” —Matthew 26:36
Arriving at Gethsemane, Jesus tells the disciples to remain together in one place while He goes further on, taking three of the disciples with Him. From what Jesus says later, He clearly expected this group of His disciples to “watch and pray” with Him and for Him.

The Inner Circle:

And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee... —Matthew 26:37
He takes three of the disciples with Him — Peter, James and John — a short distance away from the main group of disciples. We aren’t told why Jesus did this. However, there were a number of occasions where Jesus spent time with this “inner circle” of disciples. Andrew, Peter’s brother, was sometimes included: Peter, James and John all played very important roles after Jesus’ ascension: Then Jesus said to them, “Remain here, and watch with me.” —Matthew 26:38

Jesus asks the disciples to “keep watch” — to stay awake and alert. By this time, it was probably late in the evening, maybe 10:00pm or 11:00pm. We aren’t told here that Jesus asked them to pray but prayer seems to be part of what Jesus meant by “keeping watch” based on Matthew 26:41.

Luke records Jesus as telling the disciples “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” —Luke 22:40. Notice that Jesus doesn’t ask them to pray for Him; He tells them to pray for themselves.

But after Jesus went on to pray,  "...he came to the disciples and found them sleeping." —Matthew 26:40

When Jesus returned an hour later, He found the disciples sound asleep. It’s hard to stay awake when you’re tired. But there are times like this when we need to stay awake. An application for us today might be getting up earlier than we want to in order to spend time alone with God at the start of the day.

Luke adds that they were emotionally as well as physically exhausted:

And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow... —Luke 22:45
Jesus is apparently not pleased with them.
...And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour?” —Matthew 26:40
Notice how He singles out Peter. Though everyone was asleep, Jesus focuses His rebuke on Peter. Why? Because Peter was the key leader among the disciples. Leaders have a greater accountability, a greater responsibility to set the pace in obeying Jesus.

Jesus returns two more times, each time to find the disciples asleep. Since Jesus first returned after one hour, then we can suppose that each of the other two periods of time were for a similar period as well. So Jesus prayed for about three hours while the disciples slept.

“So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” —Matthew 26:40-41
The NASV translates this more accurately as “keep watching and praying” [present imperative verb tense].

Prayer is essential to resisting temptation. God intends prayer to be a way that we are strengthened spiritually and are better able to resist temptation. Jesus emphasized the importance of prayer in resisting temptation in the Lord’s Prayer as well:

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. —Matthew 6:13
I wonder how different the response of the disciples in general (and Peter in particular) to Jesus’ arrest would have been if they had stayed awake and prayed for these three hours as Jesus told them. They slept while Jesus prayed. As a result, when the people came to arrest Jesus, the disciples were unprepared. They all fled and Peter ends up denying Jesus three times.

Focusing on Jesus:   What are some things we learn about Jesus in this passage?

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” —Matthew 26:36
There may be no better passage in all of Scripture to show the importance of prayer than this. This is how Jesus chose to spend His last hours of before His arrest. This is how Jesus chose to prepare for His crucifixion.
And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. —Matthew 26:37
Other translations of verse 37 say
 NASV “grieved and distressed”
 NLT “anguish and deep distress”
 TEV “grief and anguish”
 ESV “sorrowful and troubled”

Verse 38 tells us: “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death.”

In Mark’s Gospel, the wording is even stronger:

And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” —Mark 14:34
What do you think caused the sorrow and anguish that Jesus experienced here?  Jesus knew that the greatest agony of the cross would be spiritual not physical. As terrible as the pain of crucifixion was, far greater was the agony of bearing our sins and being separated from His Father.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin. —2 Corinthians 5:21
In verse 38, Jesus also said, “Remain here, and watch with me.”

There’s a vulnerability that Jesus displays here that should touch our hearts. At this time of great pain and suffering, Jesus wanted His friends close by supporting Him as He prayed and prepared. There’s a real lesson on the importance of true fellowship here — we need it ourselves and we need to give it to others.

Now let’s go back to Luke 22 to finish our study of this passage: Let’s consider Jesus’ prayer as recorded in Luke 22:

And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” —Luke 22:41-42
What are some things we can learn from Jesus’ prayer in v.41-42?

He knelt down:

There are other verses that speaking of kneeling when we pray: We can bow our heads and pray; we can pray as we go for a walk; we can pray as we drive our cars; we can pray together in church. But there are times when we need to get down on our knees and pray. Kneeling has to do with “body language. It’s a way of humbling ourselves before God.

I want to stop here for this lesson. It is at this point that Jesus prays to “have an alternative plan.” I don’t want to restrict our discussion of that prayer, so we will start with that next lesson.