39. And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him.
40. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.
41. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,
42. Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
43. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
44. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
45. And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow,
46. And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.
47. And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him.
48. But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?
49. When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword?
50. And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear.
51. And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.
52. Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves?
53. When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.
54. Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest's house. And Peter followed afar off.
55. And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them.
56. But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him.
57. And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not.
58. And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not.
59. And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean.
60. And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew.
61. And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
62. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.
This is the beginning of one of the greatest scenes and acts of unholy injustice that has ever been witnessed in this whole world; the betrayal of Jesus, the arrest of Jesus, and the things that would follow leading up to the cross. Christ is seen here preparing Himself for this ordeal. As is always the case with Jesus, Jesus always prepares for whatever He is about to step into by seeking the Father’s will and by prayer and opening up His heart to the Father and finding out indeed the very will of the Father. He prayed earnestly in the time of His temptation at the beginning of His ministry and He conquered that time of temptation. He prayed during His ministry at special events and special times, and sometimes all night on a mountain by Himself in prayer. Here, he goes to a place that is called the Mount of Olives where He is accustomed to going. It would appear that Jesus made a practice of going to this garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives and there spending time with His disciples and sometimes in private in prayer. His disciples knew about this and as they came there, the disciples stayed in one place and He warned them by saying, ‘Pray that you enter not into temptation.’ Now He will tell them that twice. Simon Peter will fall into temptation before very long. Evidently, he has failed to receive this warning and admonition to really pray. What Jesus is saying here is that prayer is our source of protection from falling into temptation. Prayer is the kind of experience that causes the grace of God to come around us in a tremendous protective way.
I heard a man talking about ministers who fail and he had ministered in counseling to several hundred ministers who had suffered the awful ordeal of ministerial failure. He said ‘I have never had one to suffer failure in his ministry and his marriage – never had one to suffer moral failure who maintained a daily prayer life to God, spending time alone with the Lord in prayer and with the Word of God.’ I think Jesus is saying, not only to the disciples but to us all, here is your protection from temptation. Here is the way you get clothed with grace. Here is the way you hide yourself in the love and power of God. It is through prayer. Pray that you enter not into temptation. Even in the Lord’s Prayer that He taught us, He taught us to pray ‘forgive us our sins, forgive us our debts…’ Luke uses the word sins. Matthew uses the word trespasses. Mark uses the word debts. Then He said to pray ‘lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’ This is something Jesus taught His disciples how to pray and that they should pray and here He is reminding them very solemnly to pray that you enter not into temptation. He left them there and He went on. And He prayed.
His prayer was one for the will of God to be done. Regardless of what He requests, Jesus always winds up at that place where He surrenders His will to the will of the Father. It was not always so very easy. In His human state, there must have been all kinds of forces from within Him physically, mentally, emotionally crying out against the suffering He would have to face and what He would have to do, and the bitter cup that He would have to drink. He was crying out ‘if it be Your will, but nevertheless Thy will be done.’ Let this cup pass from Me. Let this ordeal, this cup of bitterness that He must take in His hands and drink it to the very dregs of the sins of the whole world, the bitterness and sorrow of the suffering of humanity caused by sin, He had to take this whole cup and drink it and He said ‘if it be Thy will, let it be put aside. Let me avoid it. Nevertheless, not My will, but Thine be done.’
We get some idea about the sorrow and the struggle of His prayer because at this point Luke tells us that an angel came and strengthened Him. Then He prays again. Being in great agony, He proceeds to pray more earnestly. What a wrestling of prayer until His sweat drips like great drops of blood. The scientists teach us that what happened to Jesus is that He literally sweated blood. There is such a condition of the heart that can come to such grief that it causes a physical reaction to the very bloodstream. That is the reason that on the cross when He was pierced in the side out came blood and water. The blood seemed to have become unmixed somehow. They say this literally can happen because of intense grief and sorrow and agony. The inward pain of sorrow and agony can be so great that it can cause chemical and physical changes to take place in our own body.
So, an angel had to come and strengthen Him. Then He prayed more. I get a tremendous lesson and application from that point. It leads me to say to you that when you come face-to-face with agony in prayer, that it may very well be that God is bringing us to such a place so that He can come to us and strengthen us even if He has to send an angel. How can we know how many times we have prayed in such agony that an angel stood at attention while we prayed and communed with heaven? How could we know but what the Holy Spirit has hovered over us and overshadowed us and has given us strength that we could not have borne the burden and we could not have carried the load of prayer and we could not have surrendered to the will of God had not there been a divine visitation from on high? We were strengthened and helped. You see, when it comes to spiritual struggle and spiritual warfare especially, there seems to be no greater than battling over the will of God for yourself, it seems that that’s when heaven itself takes an interest to come and enable us to come to the place that we can say not my will but Thine be done.
I’ve used this illustration before, but I’ll use it again in talking about our cross and the kind of agonizing praying it takes for us to be willing to take up our cross. That is when the will of God coming down in a vertical dimension cuts across our will on this horizontal plane, then that’s where our cross really is raised up, understanding the will of God and being willing to say not my will, but Thine be done.
When you get caught up in the throes of wrestling with self until you come to the place where you can deny self and the flesh and the devil and this world and say Lord, I am Yours. My life is Yours. I don’t hold anything back. I give it to you unreservedly. I make no claims for myself. I make no demands for myself. Oh hallelujah! That’s the place where you are about to receive heaven’s strength and heaven’s grace and heaven’s joy because the greatest joy you will ever know is when that surrender is made and you have said yes to the Lord completely. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Don’t you feel His presence? Just praise Him! Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord, for strengthening us in prayer. Thank you, Lord, for giving us strength when we did battle and for giving us victory. Hallelujah!
When He had finished praying and everything was set in His heart, no turning back now, the hour of darkness was closing in upon Him and there was no turning aside from the Will of the Father to give His life to save the world. When He had finished, it was all settled and He came back to His disciples and found them sleeping. Luke says they were sleeping for sorrow. It appears at this point that they are beginning to understand something of what they face and what Jesus faces. They must be overwhelmed with the total environment of His suffering, being in that atmosphere of surrendering totally to the will of God. Somehow, it would appear that the human body has mechanisms that work sometime to help us undergo pain and shock and especially great sorrow. I have been told that if we didn’t have that, that when someone delivers to us a death message, for example, of a loved one that the shock would be so great that we would just die. And some people do. But somehow the body is able to compensate and sometimes it can even bring on sleep as to form an escape from the sorrow and from the reality of the pain and suffering at that point. We may not understand it, but Luke said that they were sleeping because of the sorrow.
Jesus said unto them, ‘Why sleep ye? Rise and pray.’ This is the second time now. Rise and pray lest ye enter into temptation. Once again, He is saying if you rise and pray, you should not fall into temptation. Simon Peter will do this very quickly. But first, comes on the heels of that agonizing prayer, the agony of betrayal of Judas. Judas received thirty pieces of silver. What did Judas have to sell to make that money? The only thing Judas had to sell was to be able to tell the Chief Priests and others, the enemies of Christ, about this private place where Jesus practiced going to be with His disciples, to be in prayer. Sometimes He even spent the night on the Mount of Olives in that garden. That was the place where they could catch Jesus without a great crowd of disciples. That is the irony of this whole thing. That’s all Judas really had to sell was the place where Jesus could be taken without many people around Him. So they came and Judas led them there.
A lot of things have been said about Judas. It is the name that we never hear it, or see it, or say it without having some kind of recoil and reaction. Luke would tell us again later in Acts, that Judas by transgression fell. Judas was a thief because he carried the bag and he was interested in money. We will hear things that ate away at this man’s life and inner being and he saw his hopes being dashed because Jesus was not coming like the king of glory that he thought He should be. He was not appearing like the great Jewish Messiah that they had hoped for. Disappointment began to eat at him. He is not alone because we have already seen the others arguing over who would have the best place beside Him, one on the right and one on the left, being exalted. They had some carnal inclinations as well. When you keep company with carnal inclinations long enough and you keep entertaining certain thoughts long enough, finally they are conceived in your heart and they bring forth sin. James has that figured out: when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin and when sin is finished, it brings forth death.
Judas had spent too much time thinking of the wrong thing and loving money and being willing to betray. We’ve had novels. We’ve had writings of different people who tried to treat him kindly and say Judas just wanted to force the Lord’s hand quicker so that His kingdom would appear. And he just made a mistake. It was a matter of a mistake and mis-timing. But the Scripture doesn’t harmonize with that idea. There must have been great bitterness because when he came running up to betray the Lord with a kiss, Jesus said ‘Judas betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss?’ About that time, the other disciples, if you remember they had only had two swords, and they began to say ‘Shall we smite with the sword? Shall we fight?’ Evidently, before Jesus could answer, Simon Peter – once again that blundering disciple who seemed to make mistakes, he drew his sword and took a whack at the servant of the High Priest. Most people think that he most surely must have ducked. If he hadn’t Simon Peter probably would have cut his head off, but when he ducked, he sliced off his right ear. Here is something that is so incredible. Jesus seems to take the ear and He tells Simon Peter ‘Don’t use your sword.’ And then Jesus answered and said ‘Suffer ye thus far,’ and He touched his ear, and it was healed! I somehow believe that would make a believer out of anybody to think well who is this that He can perform such a miracle even in His agony and when His enemies have gathered around Him to take Him and He is about to surrender Himself, yet even then does He perform a miracle of grace and of healing and love. My Lord, what a witness to those people.
John tells about it when they came to get Him in the garden and He said ‘Whom seek ye?’ And they said ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ and He answered ‘I am He.’ The Bible says they just fell back on the ground. It’s like some great super hand had snatched the rug out from under them and they fell to the ground. What signs? What more does it take to open the eyes of some people? What does it take to touch the hard hearts of some people who have become so steeped in attitudes against Christ and His love until they cannot even see His miracle love when it takes place in the healing of a servant who is come to be part of a crowd that takes Him away?
This brings up a deep question. What does it take to touch some people’s heart when they see the mercies and graces of God again and again in their lives and in others, in their families and in their friends, and they still are not touched to believe on Jesus Christ? I think the most horrible experience that could ever come to an individual in this world is to become so hard and so indifferent that even when you are in the presence of God and in the presence of a miracle, you can walk away untouched. I can’t think of any kind of life that is more horrible than that. To have gone past feeling as the Scripture describes some people. Past the point of being touched. Past the point of being tender and responsive to the presence of God and to His miracle working power.
I like the song we sing sometimes ‘We are standing on Holy Ground, and I know that there are angels all around…’ I think we need to recognize His presence and His holiness and let it touch us deeply realizing that the angels of God bear witness to our worship to Him.
I look at this event of healing and I think of this application, too. I wonder how many times the Lord Jesus has had to heal a hurt that was caused by blundering disciples? I try not to think back, but to be perfectly honest, I know that in my life, even in my ministry, there have been times I blundered and somebody was hurt. It seems as if an apology would never quite heal the hurt. Sometimes it takes a special visitation of God to sweep that out of somebody’s mind and heart. I wonder if Simon didn’t set an example here that would be followed again and again by people who love Jesus and are following Him and want to be obedient and want to be faithful and yet, they blunder in the things that cause hurt that Jesus has to straighten up and heal.
Thank God, He can! He can heal the hurt! Regardless of who blunders, He can heal the hurt. He knows how. Hallelujah!
Just one touch of His hand put that ear back in working order. One touch of His hand can heal the hurt of your heart and mind. Hallelujah! Oh Lord Jesus, we love You. We love Your healing power. We love Your presence. Oh, how You can set things right, oh Lord Jesus.
Finally, there is the agony of denial of this great apostle. He has been warned twice. Pray that you enter not into temptation. He has made a blundering act, not fully understanding what Jesus is going to do, and then when Jesus says to the people ‘You come unto Me with swords and staves as if I were a criminal, why when I was out in the open with you in the temple and other places, you didn’t come to Me like this then.’ Of course, they were afraid because of the great multitudes around Him. That’s the reason. But they took Him to the High Priest’s house and Simon Peter followed afar off. You’ve heard sermons preached on that text about people who follow the Lord Jesus afar off. I don’t want to cast any reflections at all, I want to say it in the most positive way I know. At least he followed. Could you say Amen? At least he followed. That is something. He didn’t turn and go the other way and say ‘I’m through with this. I’m totally disappointed.’ At least he followed. It took him into temptation and three times we have in that passage where people spoke to him and say ‘You’re one of them,’ and he denies it three times. ‘I don’t know him.’ At the third time, he is looking at Jesus. The last time he denies Jesus, the Lord turned and looked upon Peter. The look that Jesus gave him must have been something! Oh! The look on His face. That look would have been of no significance whatsoever if Simon hadn’t been looking at Him. I know he followed afar off. I know he denied, but he was still looking toward Jesus. That gives me a whole lot of hope. That gives me a whole lot of comfort to say that people who may sometime follow Him afar off and people who may sometime blunder and do the wrong thing, they need nevertheless, to keep looking toward Jesus until He looks, until He turns and looks right into our own hearts.
When He did, without saying a word, Peter remembered because the cock crew. The Lord turned and looked at him and he remembered the warning. He went out and wept bitterly. Here was a man who went out in the darkness, but it was not the power of darkness and the time of great evil as Jesus referred to the leaders. When He gave Himself up to them, He said ‘It is your hour and the power of darkness,’ letting us know full well that the power of evil and darkness motivated the High Priests and all who had come to capture Jesus. It was into the darkness that Simon Peter went, but it was not with the power of darkness and evil because he wept bitterly and he found his way through his breaking heart back to our Lord Jesus. Jesus anticipated that because He said ‘I prayed for you and when you are converted or when you are turned, then strengthen the brethren.’ When Simon Peter wrote his great letter, he used the word ‘pasco’: to suffer fourteen times; seven times in relationship to the sufferings of Jesus; and seven times in relationship to the sufferings of Christians. Simon Peter learned it well. You don’t always live on the mountaintop of victory and transfiguration building tabernacles and going on, but there are times you come back in the valleys to minister and you face the power of Satan, and you learn what the ministry of suffering is really like, when you open up your heart to do the will of God.
I would say to anybody, if you are going to do the perfect will of God, don’t think it is going to be a pleasant journey. There will be some agonizing prayer and suffering involved in your complete surrender and obedience.
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