LIVING LIKE JESUS: The Gospel of Luke—Week 12
This week we are wrapping up our study of Luke and the spiritual practices of Jesus. Fittingly, our study concludes with the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane. I remember very distinctly going to the theater a number of years ago with a group from my church to see the film, The Passion of the Christ. There was a lot in that film that stirred my emotions, but none more so than the scene of Jesus in Gethsemane. For me, watching the agony of Jesus as he wrestled with what lay before him was absolutely gut-wrenching. Interestingly, Luke’s account of this moment focuses little on Jesus’ emotions. For Luke, the key emphasis of this moment is the interplay between prayer and obedience.
Gethsemane is the moment where we see Jesus model for us what he taught us in the Lord’s Prayer. Everything Jesus has said and done has led him to this moment. He is in anguish over what is looming before him. Though Jesus is all God, he is also all man, and in his humanness, he is overwhelmed by the weight of it all. Though the physical torture is yet to come, the emotional and spiritual torment is already so pervasive that his capillaries burst under the stress, and he sweats blood. In this moment Jesus shows us that the Lord’s Prayer is not just some empty ritual we repeat on Sunday mornings. When we step into praying the way Jesus teaches us to pray, we unleash the power of God in our lives and our circumstances. In this moment, even as he feels his resolve waiver, Jesus submits himself to the will of the Father. He prays, “yet not my will, but yours be done,” a prayer that echoes the line from the Lord’s Prayer, “your kingdom come, your will be done.” And after Jesus submits himself to the will of the Father, the Father, in turn, provides him with the comfort, strength, and support he needs for the moment. If you’re like me, this is quite different from the way I typically approach difficulty. I want God to fix things before I submit to his will. But that is backwards. It is not about God empowering me to submit; it is about me submitting so God can empower me for his kingdom purposes.
In Luke’s account of this moment, the resolve and power Jesus experiences in Gethsemane through prayer and obedience is juxtaposed with the utter failure of the disciples. Twice Jesus reminds the disciples of the importance of prayer in this moment of temptation, and twice the disciples ignore his admonitions and choose sleep over vigilance. In the moment of crisis, they don’t pray, they don’t obey, and they end up running away. In contrast to the disciples, Jesus is empowered to obediently persevere in the moment of crisis because he prays.
In our Gethsemane moments, will we choose to be like Jesus, or will we be like the disciples and succumb to temptation? It will all boil down to our willingness to pray so that we might have the power to obey.
In lieu of set questions for this week, review the lessons we’ve learned from the life and practice of Jesus. Discuss in your group what lessons have had the most impact on you and why. Discuss the changes you have made or intend to make to be a more fully devoted follower of Christ.