“He distanced Himself from them about a stone’s throw away and knelt there, praying. Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from Me. Yet not My will, but Your will, be done. Then a messenger from heaven appeared to strengthen Him. And in His anguish, He prayed even more intensely, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Luke 22:41-44 (Voice)
Agony, anguish, pain, suffering. In the garden, before Jesus was arrested, accused, tried and ultimately crucified, Jesus was in agony. The greek word for agony used in this scripture is agonia and is defined as extreme mental or physical suffering or a violent contest. We go on to read that as He prayed in agony and more earnestly, drops of blood formed on his brow and fell to the ground. As someone who has struggled with anxiety, I can only imagine how his physical body was feeling. Just being aware of what was coming would cause intense sweating, shaking, maybe a rapid heartbeat or vomiting. I recognize this because I’ve felt these things too. You see, Jesus was fully human and experienced all of the emotions and sensations that you and I feel. But instead of turning in the other direction and running, he stayed and was obedient to the task that God had sent him to earth to complete.
Jesus’ relationship with agony was so much more than spiritual. It embodied his entire being….heart, soul, mind and strength. Maybe you can relate? You see, there’s not one thing we ever experience outside of our bodies, so how we feel in our physical bodies and being aware of it is so very important. But, Jesus’ response is what drives me to my knees. His first instinct is to pray! Not run and hide, but to pray. Jesus’ prayer life was habitual, submissive, receptive and earnest. You see, He had such an intimate prayer life with the Father. He modeled it for us over and over again in scripture. In fact, prayer is considered to be the last piece of our spiritual armor in the book of Ephesians and in the verses that come before and after the above scripture He tells the disciples to pray.
I think sometimes we think our prayers go unheard because we continue to endure things that cause us anguish. I can certainly attest to that. However, we read that as He prayed in agony and even more earnestly that an angel was sent to strengthen Him. Friends, the Savior of the world needed to be strengthened in His time of agony! God didn’t take the cup from Him like He asked but instead gave Him the strength to endure the task ahead.
This has me asking myself some questions about my own prayer life. Is my prayer habitual to the point that it’s the first place I go at all times? Do I choose to submit and succumb to the will of God and how does that look like in my life? Am I open to receiving God’s strength in my life? What is my response to anguish and pain?
“Drinking the cup that Jesus drank is living a life in and with the spirit of Jesus, which is the spirit of unconditional love. The intimacy between Jesus and Abba, his Father, is an intimacy of complete trust, in which there are no power games, no mutually agreed upon promises, no advanced guarantees. It is only love- pure, unrestrained, and unlimited love. Completely open, completely free. That intimacy gave Jesus the strength to drink his cup. That same intimacy Jesus wants to give us so that we can drink ours.” – Henri Nouwen
What if we could trust Jesus and His will like Jesus trusted God? What would it feel like to drop your baggage and embrace the presence of God and His will for your life? What does that look like?
May your week be filled with blessings and may you begin to explore taking a posture of “not my will, but yours.” Grace, peace and love.