Bible Study

On The Way To The Cross :Jesus in Mount Olives

Todays Bible Study scripture portion is Luke 22:39-46.
Of the very few activity or incidences that are reported by all the four evangelists, the arrest, the trial, the crucifixion, the burial, the resurrection and the appearance of Lord Jesus to His disciples are reported more or less by all the four. We find many activities common in synoptic gospel.
The incidence of Mount Olives is found parallel in Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42 and a very brief mention of it in John 18:1.
Let’s proceed verse by verse.
 
verse 39 : Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.
After instituting the Lord’s Supper, after setting example of humbleness, after comforting the grief stricken disciples, after assuring them of deliverance, after praying for you and me, Jesus sets out for Mount Olives for completing His Father’s divine plan.
Luke mentions Jesus went to the Mount of Olive whereas Matthew and Mark say He went to a place called Gethsemane and John mentions the place as a garden beyond Kidron valley. The 1984 version of NIV mentions the garden as olive grove. So, Mount Olive was situated on the bank of Kidron valley and at the base of Mount Olive (also known as Olivet and Mount Olivet) somewhere was situated a garden by the name Gethsemane. In this garden was grown olive trees.
(For more details on Mount Olives, you may visit http://www.bibleplaces.com)
But for those who are not net savvy, we produce a brief details.

 In The Old Testament
King David fled to the Mount of Olives to escape Absalom’s rebellion (2 Samuel 15:30). King Solomon built pagan “high places” there (1 Kings 11:7). Later, King Josiah destroyed Solomon’s idolatrous altars, by which time it had become known as the Hill of Corruption (2 Kings 23:13-14). Ezekiel had his vision of The Lord and the flying cherubim above it (Ezekiel 11:22-23). The people gathered olive branches there for the first Feast of Tabernacles after their return from The Babylonian Exile (Nehemiah 8:15).

In The New Testament
Jesus regularly went up onto the Mount of Olives (Luke 22:39). He often traveled over it on His way to Bethany to visit His friend Lazarus. His famous Olivet prophecy is named after it (Matthew 24:1-51). The Triumphal Entry of Jesus riding on a Donkey and her colt into Jerusalem took place over and down the Mount of Olives (Luke 19:28-44).

The Mount of Olives In The Future
“After He said this, He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid Him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as He was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, Who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.'” (Acts 1:9-11)

“Then The Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then The Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with Him. (Zechariah 14:3-5)

Mount Olive was frequently visited by Jesus and it was known to all of His disciples including Judas Iscariot.

verse 40:  On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”
The temptation that Jesus talks about is of trials, of testing times, of pain, of agony, of anguish that could threathen our faith. He had already spoken of this in verse 31-32.
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. …”
So, this temptation is not of lust or of flesh but of satan.

Now, when Jesus Himself has prayed , why the disciples pray again? Was not Jesus prayer enough to protect the faith of the disciples? Well, the disciples prayer cannot surpass the prayer of Jesus.
As Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, He was intercepted by a blind beggar in Jericho. When he was told that Jesus of Nazareth was passing through, he began calling out Jesus loudly. Jesus asked him,  “What do you want me to do for you?” (Luke 18:41). Jesus knew what he wanted, but wants us to speak out our wish and will and desire. He wants us, His disciples to show willingness. (Psalm 51). The Heavenly Father has given us the freewill. And Jesus does not force His will on human. When we pray for strength to overcome the temptations, we show our desire that we want to overcome it and that on our own it will not be possible. And The Heavenly Father gives us the power to overcome the temptations. No doubt Jesus had prayed, but He also wants us to pray and express our desire, our earnestness to remain steadfast to the faith in Jesus Christ. Even as we pray, Jesus on our behalf intercedes with the Father.( Hebrews 7:24-25, Romans 8:34)
 
verse 41: He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed,
Now, Jesus Himself kneels down and prays. He asked the disciples to pray that they may not fall to temptations. And Jesus prays that He may not be weakened. Jesus always practised what He preached and whatever He preached, He practised. Let this be our attitude when we preach others.

verse 42 : “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
Now, we see this is a 4 point prayer.
a) Father, b) if you are willing, c) take this cup from me,  d)  yet not my will, but yours be done

a) Father. By using the word Father to address The Lord Almighty, Jesus shows the relationship that He enjoys. The  close intimate relation that He has with The Father. The salutation shows that as a Son, He is subordinate to His Father. And this subordination requires obedience.
“…Christ Jesus:  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-8)
Now, we know it will be to some extent hard to grasp when we say Jesus subordinate to The Heavenly Father. We request you that you pray to The Lord Almighty to spare you from all confusions. It is not our desire to confuse you. Even as we say this, we also believe Jesus Christ did not gave up His Godlihood forever. Jesus Christ is the creator, not a creature and will always be equal to the Father in this sense. Jn 1: says, ” In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind…..The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.(John 1: 1-4, 14)”. However, sometime around the incarnation, Jesus made a choice to submit to the Father as His head. We call this choice, the subordination (or down-ranking) of Christ to the Father.
Let us also clear that we believe in Trinity, The Father The Son and The Holy Spirit.

Now we come to second and the third point.
When Jesus prayed, “if you are willing,” did He not knew what was The Father’s will? and when He prayed,” take this cup from me,” was He afraid of the death? Was HE not willing to die? Was He afraid of the pain associated with the death? Did He felt helpless, forsaken?
Christ is unique in the Deity as the one who became flesh (John 1:1,14). In the days of his flesh He went through the same sort of trials and difficulties that all human beings experience. Having lived in this world, he is able to “sympathize with us in our weakness” (Heb 4:15-16). Our Intercessor, our Saviour is not only a divine Person only, but also a human being. He can “interpose on behalf of one in difficulty or in trouble”, because he himself experienced similar of difficulty and trouble first hand. Being in human form, it is natural that He was troubled in His heart, that He felt weak bodily, that He did felt lonely, that He did felt forsaken and that He did felt helpless.
But at the same time He was not at all afraid to die nor did He gave up His willingness to die. (John 12:27)

No one had forced Him to die. It was His voluntary decision.( Hebrews 10:5-7)  And He also knew He would not remain in grave forever. ( John 10:17-18)

He knew very clearly that He came to fulfill the Fathers willingness, He knew the prophecies.
Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. (Isaiah 53:10)
And He predicted His death again and again. At the time of His transfiguration, He discussed about the same with Moses and Elijah. So, this was not a secret or surprise to Hi  that He was to die on the cross. And He was willing to make all the prophecies fully fulfilled. (John 18:11)  He knew that He came to lay down His life that many will  be saved ( Mark 10:45)
Jesus never did what flashed through His mind, or what suited to His convenience. He did what The Father told Him or showed Him to do. (John 5:19-27, 8:28-29)

So, being troubled, being a Human, He prays if The Father can make changes in His plan, if He can take away the ‘cup of wrath’ away from Him. And He does not stick to His will but surrenders His will to The Father. He says, “not My will but let Thy will be done”. As a human Jesus underwent all the pains and agony but He kept His Spirit willing.
As a human our body may become weak but at all times our spirit should we willing to do The Lord’s will. And The Lord shall provide a way to overcome the hurdles that may come in our walk with The Lord.
And this was the way The Lord taught His disciples to pray. And in the same way He too prayed. Jesus practised what He preached, what He taught.
We see The Father don’t change His plan. But then, if He does also, it is His will. We shall not question or argue. The Father do changes His mind. And that is for our welfare. (Daniel 4:34-35, )

verse 43 : An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.
verse 44 : And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
The Father has given all His faithfuls the assurance of protecting them from all the distress. He answers when we call unto Him. He helped David, He answered Daniel, He answered Solomon, He answered Jonah to name a few. And He answered Jesus. But not by taking away ‘The cup’ but strengthening Him to bear it. Moses and Elijah had earlier encouraged Him. The angels of God had earlier strengthened Him, in the wilderness and again by sending His angels, The Father strengthened Jesus.

At times, even we feel we are not answered even though we pray honestly and with much sincerity and intimately. But we need to remember, The Father did not take away ‘the cup’ from Jesus, He did not ‘answered’ His only Son, His Loving Son, a Son who knew no sin. The Son who prayed in anguish and with such an earnest that His sweats turned into blood! Can anyone claim to have prayed with such earnest? Who are we? That we expect our every request be answered, our every desire be fulfilled, most of which are selfish in nature?
Well, I used to argue some years ago, Lord, how can I overcome every temptations the way you did? You are a GOD and I am not? Similarly many can argue. But later I found out by The Lord’s grace that had not Jesus come in human form, every human would have argued similarly. But that Jesus took the human form, all these arguments become baseless.  Now we have no excuses. Through Jesus, The Father shows us that it was not impossible to lead a sinless life. And the only son of man to have lived a sinless life is Jesus alone.

verse 45:  When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow.
Having prayed to The Father, Jesus finds the disciples asleep due to exhaustion and sorrow. How were they exhausted from sorrow?
The disciples were busy preparing for the passover meal and they ate it. Later Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper in their presence and gave them the last sermon, better known as The Sermon on the upper room. He also told them about His immediate arrest and the hardships they will be exposed to. All these we read in John chapter 13 through chapter 18. So, they were exhausted and filled with sorrow. The disciples were sorrowful after learning all the realities that were in store for their Master and for themselves too.

verse 46:  “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
Luke records no repetition of prayer, but Matthew and Mark records that Jesus prayed the same prayer three times! Why Jesus took break in between? Did the disciples lost some greatest privileges by succumbing to sleep? Did Jesus came with the intension of group prayer? We don’t know. Did Jesus expected some sort of encouragement from them as they had given Him the encouragement by standing with Him earlier?(Luke 22:28) We don’t know. But we do also know that Jesus knew everything, that all His disciples will desert Him, except ofcourse John.
Awaking them from their sleep. Jesus again tells them to pray. Jesus had again and again taught them to rely on The Father through prayer. Just a few hours ago (from that time) in Luke 21:36, He had told them and also few minutes ago He had told them, but..

We shall see in the next section that they did not get time to pray. For, before they could pray, the deceiver, the betrayer had come with the authorities personnel to arrest The Son of Man.

Prayer : Heavenly Father, thanking you for keeping us safe. Dear Father, we thank You for all the blessings that You shower on us continually. We pray humbly to strengthen us to overcome the temptations that we encounter in our every day life. Lord preserve our soul and enable us to give in to your will and wish. That You Lord that You are our Fortress and Salvation. All glory and honour to You. In the Precious Name of Your Son and Our Lord Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.

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