A number of great Evangelicals from the early Reformation Days, into the Puritan Days and when George Whitefield ministered, would sing hymns and pray after a meal. I wonder whether they took their cue from the Lord Jesus and His disciples. After the “Last Supper”, they sang a hymn:
Mt 26:30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Then we have Peter’s denial predicted by Jesus followed by them going to Gethsemane so that Jesus could speak to His Father. He and the inner core of disciples (Peter, James and John) went further with Jesus asking them to “watch” with Him for He was sorrowful and troubled. (Mat 26:37). He then said to them in verse 38, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” The means “watch” is “pray”, see:
Mt 26:40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
The temptation Jesus experienced was to forego the Cross and the only weapon was prayer because however strong the spirit is, the body of flesh is weak. Even though He was the Godman, He was in the flesh. He knew exactly what lay ahead of Him. Prayer’s armory won, for we read:
Mt 26:39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
Right here lies one of the greatest lessons a believer may learn. God has shaped the plan for our lives and it might include hardship and struggles. The only way to remain true to Him and His will for us is prayer. Think about it again … Jesus asked His Father … “if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.” If He failed here, we would have known nothing other than eternal ruin in hell! But, real prayer’s benefit and reward is … not as I will, but as you will. Look at what He said to the disciples as He was tempted knowing they would be too, to throw in the towel! “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” Paul picks up this theme, saying:
1 Cor 10:13 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.
The way God provides for you and me to “stand up under” the temptation is prayer! When you are at your wits end and cannot see the next hour let alone the next day, remember that God knows what He is doing. He is leading you through His will for you and will never leave you nor forsake you. Hang in through prayer! After praying, Jesus finds the disciples sleeping, not praying. The enemy will do the same to you should you not be vigilant in prayer. He will render you useless against temptation when you sleep and not pray! Knowing all things, Jesus says:
Mt 26:46 “Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
It was right then that Judas arrived with an army of men, sent from the chief priests and elders.
Mt 26:48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. 50 Jesus replied, “Friend, do what you came for.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him.
Jesus words to Judas was … go ahead, betray me to the henchmen of the religious authorities. Judas kisses Jesus and He is arrested. Surely now Jesus’ words to his disciples and His prayer to His Father make sense! He was tempted to flee, avoid being arrested and miss the Cross … miss the reason for His coming to this planet. I have to emphasize the huge importance of prayer in our daily lives, but more so when tempted to go away from God’s predetermined will for us and our benefit. O beloved, know this … nothing comes our way unless sanctioned by God … nothing! With prayer there is victory yet without prayer there is nothing … absolutely nothing to sustain and support us through God’s will for our lives! Yet even though we know this we could well be tempted to follow our will. Although not stated here, it was Peter:
Mt 26:51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
We know this because John tells us:
Jn 18:10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)
We would not have done any better. Jesus had taught them how important prayer was and Peter uses a worldly weapon to subvert the Father’s will! My lesson and your lesson is to learn and practice spiritual weaponry! The Bible and Prayer contains the full armor of God! (Ephesians 6:10-20). If Jesus wanted military support He could have called on His Father:
Mt 26:52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”
But that would be to defeat the decision of the Godhead’s council in glory before creation! Look at Jesus’ words:
Mt 26:54 “But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”
Jesus knew He needed to fulfill the Will of the Father because failure would mean His creating man in His image and likeness would reveal Him as a weak God. He would lose the spiritual war against satan. That fallen angel would then appear superior to God. Jesus sums it up nicely for us:
Jn 18:36 “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
Mt 26:56 “But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.”
The two weapons as mentioned are the Bible and Prayer. Jesus show us that God’s will must be fulfilled for Him. This is true for us. How will we ever know God’s will for ourselves unless we spend time reading and knowing the Scriptures and then praying through what we have read! Failure here will result in us being like the disciples … Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.
O Lord our God, help us to dig deeper into Your Word daily and take what we learn there and through prayer apply it to our hearts and souls, building us up and maturing us in Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit, so that when the day of temptation arrives we will be able to take our stand against it, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.