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NOT MY WILL BUT YOURS BE DONE (Jesus prays on the Mount of Olives)

Luke 22:39-22:46
Key Verse: 22:42

Thank God for granting us the hope that, when we stand by him in his trials in this world, we will sit on thrones and eat and drink at the table in Jesus’ kingdom. With this hope we may strive to be like the youngest, the least, and learn true serving life following our Lord Jesus. Today’s passage is about Jesus’ prayer on the Mount of Olives (in other synoptic gospels, his prayer at Gethsemane). We want to learn Jesus’ prayer struggle and his prayer topic described in Luke’s gospel.

First, “pray that you will not fall into temptations.” Look at verse 39. “Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.” What a person does "as usual" becomes a habit and forms his or her life. One who sings as usual becomes a singer. One who plays hockey as usual becomes a hockey player. One who steals as usual become a thief. One who lies as usual becomes a liar. “As usual” can be applied to a good things or a bad thing. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” We need to be aware of what we, our children, or God’s flock of sheep do as usual. We remember Daniel, who prayed three times a day in upstairs room just he had done before even when he knew the decree that anyone who prayed to any god or man except to the king had to be thrown into the lions’ den (Da 6:10). Indeed he became a warrior of prayer who overcame the power of Babylon through his prayer. Jesus prayed as usual on the Mount of Olives. “As usual” indicates Jesus’ habit of prayer. Luke 21:37 says, “Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives.” Luke’s gospel well portraits Jesus’ prayer. Jesus prayed at the time of baptism. As he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in a bodily form like a dove (Lk 4:21-22). After doing a great healing work and driving out demons from many people, he prayed at day break in a solitary place and renewed the direction to preach the good news of the kingdom of God (Lk 4:42-43). Before calling his twelve disciples, he prayed. Luke 6:12-13 says, “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles. He prayed before asking his disciples, “Who do you say I am?” (9:18). Jesus went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed (9:28-29). One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of the disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples” (11:1). And According to Luke 21:37, each evening Jesus went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives.” And here Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives and…prayed. It was before his death on the cross. Luke described Jesus’ prayer eight times.

And he taught his disciple to pray, “Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come…” He also said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” (Lk 11:1-10). And he told his disciples to ask God the Father for the Holy Spirit, for he is much more willing to give the Holy Spirit than human fathers, good gifts to their children (Lk 11:11-13). In Luke 18 Jesus told his disciples a parable of a persistent widow to show them that they should always pray and not give up (18:1). Then after telling his disciples that God will answer the prayer of his chosen ones quickly, he said, “However, when the Son of Many comes, will he find faith on the earth?” It was Jesus’ agony that at the time of his coming again, men and women of prayer would be rare.

Now Jesus for the first time enjoined his disciples to pray. Look at verse 40. “On reaching the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you will not fall into temptation.’” Jesus knew that the upcoming ordeal would be a fierce one. Jesus prayed for them. But now they themselves had to pray that they would not fall into temptation. Jesus told again the same thing to them after his prayer. Look at verses 45 and 46. “When he rose from prayer and went back to his disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. ‘Why are you sleeping?’ he asked them. ‘Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.’” Although they were exhausted from sorrow and asleep, they had to get up from that state and pray. For them prayer would be the only potent weapon in the spiritual warfare. . It had already been noted that Satan had entered Judas and was doing his work. Satan had asked to sift Simon, and Jesus prayed for him so that his faith might not fail. Stan was working rampantly, aiming at Jesus disciple to make them fall one by one. So Jesus repeatedly stressed that they should pray and not fall into temptation.

One of the painful things in our lives of faith is to see that God’s people change and their faith alters as time passes by. Furthermore Christian organizations and churches change and alter. The change comes through the influence of the relativistic and humanistic circumstances. It is because of the temptation of the world. And the devil is behind that. No one can overcome the temptation by oneself. Without prayer it is impossible. Prayer is our potent weapon.

1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” Definitely, the point of this verse is so that we should pray believing that God can provide a way out and so we can stand up under any temptations and trials. There is a movie called “War Room” (which reached second place in box office rankings). The movies teaches that one’s life which is full of complaints and anger and hatred and frustration and despair can be transformed through prayer into a victorious and fruitful one. Without prayer, one’s life becomes vulnerable and one’s family is in jeopardy. But prayer makes a difference. One can be restored into victory through prayer. A family can be protected and become a truly happy one through prayer. A church can be powerful through prayer. What draws my attention more than the story itself is that the movie title is not “Prayer Room”, but “War Room.” That’s an inspiring title. People think a war is going on in the world, where people are living and acting, and victory or defeat is up to how people fight visibly. But actually the battle is decided in one’s prayer room, where prayer is offered in the name of Jesus. One’s destiny is set in the war room; a family’s happiness relies on the war room. A church or nation’s future is determined in the war room. If one has a war room, he or she has the whole world. It is because the prayers of saints go up before God as the smoke of the incense (Rev 5:8; 8:3-4). May we have prayer as our potent weapon to overcome any temptation in the world in a battle against the devil.

Second, “not my will but, yours be done.” Look at verse 41. “He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed.” By withdrawing about a stone’s throw Jesus had a personal space in coming up to God. And he knelt down and prayed. In this gospel this is the only time Jesus’ prayer posture was depicted. He did not kneel down before anyone. But before God the Father he knelt down and prayed. It shows his submission and also desperateness in coming to God.

Then he prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” He called God “Father”, as he taught his disciples how to pray. When he called God “Father,” this was an expression of intimacy. It was an expression of trust in the love of God. It was a confession of his clear identity as the Son of God. And then he said, “if you are willing take this cup from me.” This cup is the cup of poison or death. When Jesus was on his way near to Jerusalem, James and John asked Jesus to let them sit one at his right and the other at his left. Then Jesus said, “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” (Mk 10:38). And Jesus said in Luke 12:50, “I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed!” Jesus had been foretelling his disciples the upcoming his suffering and death. When Peter made the confession of Christ, Jesus said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law and he must be killed…” (Lk 9:22). Another time he said, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men” (Lk 9:34). When he was nearing Jerusalem, he said, “The Son of Man will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him…” (Lk 18:32). Although he was foretelling the upcoming death, at this just previous night before his death the dreadful sufferings of mocking, insulting, spitting, flogging and death by crucifixion must have passed in his mind and in his manhood he prayed, “…take this cup from me.” And this will of his won was in conflict with God’s will. Here we see that even in the Son of God this conflict was real. There are many people who do not even know that there is a conflict between their will and God’s will. So they do not need to pray like this, as if they had no problem at all in regard to following God’s will. In fact they are afraid to examine their inner desire and keep on doing what they want being deceived by their own desire. According to Jesus’ prayer, being in conflict between my will and God’s will is not sin. But avoiding the conflict in deception of my own desire is sin. Only when we recognize this conflict can we become desperate to come to God and ask for his help.

And then, although Jesus expressed his desire not to take the cup, he did not insist, saying, “Take this cup from me, take this cup from me.” Rather, he put out his desire on the condition of God the Father’s willingness, saying, “If you are willing…” He did not want to go over God’s willingness. It is like a driver putting his right foot on a ‘break’ pedal from ‘accelerate’ pedal. His true and deepest desire is to submit to God’s will no matter what. While praying, his prayer topic became clearer. So he finally prayed, “yet not my will, but yours be done.” In verse 43, “an angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.” We see how intensely he prayed in Hebrews 5:7, “He offered up prayers and supplication with loud crying and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard” and indeed God helped him.

Look at verse 44. “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Though Jesus prayed, “yet not my will, but yours be done,” he had to pray more earnestly in anguish for his heart to be fully submissive to the will of God. God’s will was more than his physical death on the cross in his young age, which must have been hard for all people. His death on the cross was too horrifying for him to take, for it would be God’s wrath being poured out on him as his punishment for the sin of all mankind (Jeremiah 25:15). Luke described the earnestness and intensity of Jesus’ prayer as this, “his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” and it was the cold night (Jn 18:18). It may be that the capillaries of Jesus blood vessels were bursting at the intensity of his struggle, and blood was literally mixed with his sweat. In this way, through a bloody struggle of prayer, Jesus overcame his aversion to the cup of wrath and determined to obey the will of God. Here we can think of two cups. At the Last Supper, Jesus said taking the cup, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (Lk 22:20). Jesus offered this cup as a means of grace to bring forgiveness, cleansing, and reconciliation with God. Yet, in order to offer that cup, Jesus had to take another cup, the awful cup of Gods wrath. Only Jesus could do this for us. Truly, Jesus prayer struggle to the point of his sweat being like drops of blood falling to the ground was for the salvation of your soul and my soul. As a hymn song (224) says, “He bore for my soul that night.” Praise Jesus.

In light of this grace we may have our Lord Jesus prayer, “Yet not my will, but yours be done” in our deep hearts. Undoubtedly, God’s will for us includes saving of one soul, raising one disciple, or building up gospel-centred community. For this we can learn Jesus’ earnest and intense prayer, “Yet not my will, but yours be done” and pray more earnestly with this prayer until such things happen.

“Not my will, but yours be done,” this is an enlightening prayer topic. With this prayer in our hearts we can overcome ourselves and any life situation. This prayer makes our life truly free. But without this prayer, our life becomes anxious and is kept in suspense. Without this prayer, we go against God in our selfish human nature. Yet, with this prayer, nothing can matter disproportionately in life. As for Abraham, after 25 years of life of faith he finally got a son, Isaac. However, one day God commanded him to offer Isaac as a burnt offering. Humanly speaking, he could not understand it at all. He could have thought to himself, “Would it have not been better if God had not given me a son at all?” Abraham must have had this prayer, “Yet not my will, but yours be done.” So he was willing to offer Isaac as a burnt offering as God had commanded. Thus he truly honoured God as God and showed that he loved God more than Isaac, God’s blessing. And he must have deeply realized that God had given him this test, so that he might be free from God’s blessing that would become his idol. Many believers become worse after receiving God’s blessing as they hold to the blessing, loving it more than God. They become spiritually deteriorated and grieve God. It is because they do not have this prayer, “Yet not my will, but yours be done.” We know the story of Job. In God’s blessing he had seven sons and three daughters and became rich. But one day he lost all his children and wealth. But his response was that he fell to the ground in worship and said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." Then on top of such a great loss, he had a terrible skin disease. He scraped himself with a piece of broken pottery as he sat among the ashes. His wife said to him, “...Curse God and die!” But Job replied, “…Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” Job could have such an attitude, certainly because he had the prayer, “Yet not my will, but yours be done.” In the last chapter of Job it is written, “The LORD blessed the later part of Job’s life more than the first” (42:12). We remember Esther’s decision, “If I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). Surely it meant, “If God’s will for me is to perish, I am ready to perish.” In fact with that decision and prayer, she could save her nation. We cannot overlook Mary’s decision, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said” (Lk 1:38). Certainly it meant, “Not my will, but yours be done even if my own marriage plan is ruined.” May we have our Lord Jesus’ prayer, “Yet not my will, but yours be done” in our hearts at any life situation, even if we perish. When we have this prayer, we can please God and truly be a blessing to others despite misunderstandings and hardships.

An elderly woman at a prayer meeting one night pleaded, “It really doesn’t matter what you do with us, Lord, just have your way with our lives.” At this meeting was Adelaide A. Pollard, a rather well-known itinerant Bible teacher who was deeply discouraged because she had been unable to raise the necessary funds for a desired trip to Africa to do missionary service. She was moved by the older woman’s sincere and dedicated request to God. At home that evening Miss Pollard meditated on Jeremiah 18:3-4: “So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.” And then she composed the writing of the song “Have Thy Own Way, LORD!” (480), which was first appeared in published form in 1907. 1 John 2:17 says, “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”

In this study we learn that prayer is our potent weapon. Jesus wants us to pray that we will not fall into temptation. Most importantly may we have Jesus’ prayer in our hearts, “Yet not my will, but yours be done” and bear personal prayer battle to obey and do the will of God in our lives remembering his grace that "he bore for my soul that night."

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