“After withdrawing about a stone’s throw from them and kneeling, he prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.” And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him. He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.” ~Luke 22:41-44
This scripture passage is one of the most emotional for me. It shows our Lord in such a human light. It forces us to remember that, though He is God, he came to earth as human. He went through the same human emotions we go through. On this Holy Thursday, after washing the feet of His friends and having dinner with them, Jesus goes to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. He knows what is coming. He cannot explain how He feels to the apostles for they do not understand what is about to happen. So instead Jesus goes a little away from them and prays to His Father in heaven. His prayer is so human. So real. Jesus knows what is about to happen and is praying so strongly that it might not be so. An angel appears to Him to strengthen Him as his sweat turned to blood and fell from the agony He was in awaiting His Passion.
Jesus prays to the Father knowing that He will be betrayed by a dear friend. How hurt do we become when a friend betrays us even in the slightest way through hurtful words? How more deeply must Our Lord have been hurting to see His friend betray Him in such a way as to turn Him in to the men who want to kill Him?
Jesus prays knowing that He is going to suffer insurmountable physical and emotional pain at the hands of the very people who only a week before celebrated His entry into Jerusalem. He knows that He will be beaten in front of so many people. That He will be shamed. He must know how this might cause people to doubt Him as they see Him treated in such a way.
Jesus prays knowing that His Mother will have to watch Him suffer. How His heart must ache as He prays for this cup to pass. As He thinks of her watching her Son suffer so. Knowing that she will watch Him knowing there is nothing she can do.
Jesus prays knowing that the very people He is saving through His death are the ones putting Him to death. He knows they do not understand what they are about to do. He loves them in spite of what is about to happen.
I cannot imagine the grief that Jesus is going through in the garden. And yet, He knows that God will help Him through it all. He is strengthened by the Father and the angel God sends Him. Even while knowing everything that will take place, He still prays for God’s will because He knows that God is so truly wonderful, there can be nothing better than what He has in store for us all.
How many times do I find myself wishing, hoping, and praying for something because I think it is what is best for me, for my family. I borrow this prayer from Jesus as I pray to my Heavenly Father asking for what it is I want, all the while saying, “Not my will but Yours be done.” I am not faced with impending death. With torture. With the eternity of all mankind. And yet I know that however humble my requests, however feeble my desires, my God will hear them. I pray that my prayer in my human weakness will be strengthened by the angels. And I know that despite what I might think, God’s will is so much greater than my own. His love for me, for us all, is so indescribably amazing and filling that I know He has wondrous things in store for me far beyond what this word may offer.