Daily Readings & Thought for September 29th. “PRAY THAT YOU MAY NOT …. ”
The biggest test of commitment to God’s will in the life of our Lord Jesus came in the final hours before his arrest. We read of this today in Luke ch. 22. As he instituted what is usually called, “the last supper,” he caused his disciples to search their hearts by speaking of there being a traitor among them. He said “Woe to that man” [v.22.]
This may have triggered off the “dispute … that arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.” [v.24] ‘I’m not a traitor, I’m the very opposite!’
Spiritual growth involves walking the testing path of self-examination. Jesus met and overcame his crisis of commitment achieving complete submission to his Father’s will. This involved total clarity of understanding of that will, what it would accomplish. How great was his character in that, amid his own crisis, he was very conscious of his disciples’ frailty of faith. He encourages them, there is no condemnation of their human attitudes, he says, “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom” [v.28,29]
He tells Peter, “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail” [v.32]. Peter’s crucial time of feeling overwhelming failure was when “he went out and wept bitterly” [v.62] His faith certainly faltered, but would not his ultimate faith and vision be stronger and better balanced as a result of this experience! What folly to gloss over our weaknesses – yet it happens so often.
Now consider the intensity of emotion in the Garden of Gethsemane, “and when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” [v.40] How intense can prayer become? All too often normal mortals are unable to totally pour out their heart in prayer.! Jesus did, “being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood” [v.45]
Christ’s final words to them are virtually a repeat his earlier words, “Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” [v.46] Rising up is a positive action. His focus on their need is a help to him in keeping his own strong. We saw a lesson here for our own meditations, for surely, as the return of our Lord grows ever more imminent and the world around us grows ever more godless, there is a kind of parallel with the evil that was closing in on the disciples. And us – how we will need to constantly and urgently pray for one another! Temptation and testing are really twin brothers – so let us “Watch and Pray” –there may need to be a 21st Century Garden of Gethsemane for us!