Pressure and Prayer
The Upward Look, by Jon Forrest
Pressure and Prayer
Some people, even Christian people, believe that Jesus came into the world to show us how we could be better people. They believe that he was trying to help us to improve the way we treat people so that life would be better. There is no doubt that Jesus set a tremendous example for his followers to emulate but making us better at doing good was not his purpose.
His primary, and indeed, real purpose for coming was to die for the sins of the world. His plan was to be the perfect and final sacrificial Passover Lamb. His death on the cross was no mistake. It was no slip up. It was not an accident. I strongly disagree when people refer to the “spilled blood of Jesus.” A spill in accidental. Jesus blood was not spilled by accident, it was “shed” and “poured out” on purpose.
When Jesus took his disciples with him to the Garden of Gethsemane, it was with this purpose in mind. His life and ministry had culminated to this point. He was fully aware that, before he departed from this favorite spot of prayer, he would be under arrest and on his way to the cross.
I used to think that the agony of Christ that night in Gethsemane was his dreading the beatings and crucifixion. However, Jesus did not fear the physical pain in the least. However, it is obvious that he was burdened with responsibility. That night, the weight of the entire universe fell upon his shoulders. The sins of the entire world, past present and future fell on his shoulders. Yes, he would be arrested and tried by a kangaroo court by men whose hearts were filled with revenge and hatred. People who had praised him only a few days prior would cry out for his blood. He would be convicted on the basis of lies. Yes, he would be beaten and whipped mercilessly by professional torturers, mocked and spat upon by the crowds and nailed through his hands and feet to a rough piece of wood and suffer until his death. He would also experience shame; the shame of sin.
The foreknowledge of Jesus could not have helped, knowing blow by blow how this would play out. But the truth is that this moment in the Garden of Gethsemane was the instant when the burden of his mission fell completely on his shoulders. Once he had completed this assignment, the world would never be the same again. The past and future of the universe would be transformed forever.
The Garden of Gethsemane is a spot on the Mount of Olives where the olives were taken to be turned into oil, a very important bi-product of this valuable fruit. Olive oil was crucial for cooking and for energy to that culture. The olive press was there, and the name Gethsemane means “pressure.” How appropriate that Jesus, at his most pressurized time of his life would come to this place to deal with it.
He had never been more vulnerable to temptation than he was right then. So how did he deal with this moment? He asked his disciples to pray for him. And, he fell to the ground under this pressure and lifted his heart to the Father in prayer. He poured out his emotions and heart to God, and even his greatest concern asking if the cup (mission) he was about to experience could be taken away. But, he overcame any temptation or doubt when he surrendered it all to the will of his Father.
When you experience the greatest pressure of your life, take it to the Lord in prayer, just like Jesus did. But, always make sure that your goal is the same as that of Jesus, to hand it all over to the will of the Father.
Prayer is the great pressure release of heaven.
I’m so looking forward to this Sunday morning as we celebrate Pioneer Days at our morning service. The Neal Delk Band will lead our worship and bring special music as we look at our pioneer roots. I’ll bring the next message in our SHIPWRECKED series in preparation for VBS, titled Rescued by Prayer and based on Luke 22:39-54 & Matthew 26:36-56. Come join in the festivities and the encouragement at 10:30 Sunday morning.
Praying through pressure,