Monday, February 10, 2020

Prayer Wariors

The most wonderful and most moving prayer spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ was in the Garden of Gethsemane. After celebrating the Passover, Jesus and His disciples, minus Judas Iscariot, sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives. (Matthew 26:30) Jesus' earthly ministry as the Son of Man is winding down. He knew why He had come from God and He knows what is about to happen. He takes His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, which He did often. He then takes Peter, John and James a little further into the garden to pray and says to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me." (Matthew 26:38) Jesus then leaves Peter, John and James, goes a little farther into the garden, falls on His face and begins to pray. These men have seen Jesus pray many times but something was different. They must have noticed the sorrow and distress that was upon Him. What they didn’t know, was Jesus was facing the fact that He would soon be made sin. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us…” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Next, "Jesus came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "What! Could you not watch with Me one hour?  Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:40-41)  He warns them to watch, literally, to abstain from sleep; to be vigilant, to guard against danger, and pray that they do not enter into temptation. He knew the danger that was coming and how the flesh might possibly give in to temptation. He knew that He was about to take the place of every human being and endure the punishment that was required to meet man’s greatest need, redemption.

In the incarnation, deity and humanity coming together, Jesus was not mortal or immortal, but a perfect human being as Adam was before the fall. However, as man’s substitute, He would become mortal the moment sin was placed upon Him in the same way that Adam became mortal when he sinned. Jesus knew that the moment He would be made sin, He would experience what Adam experience when he himself sinned. He would spiritually die, be forsaken by the Father and then physically die. He knew that as Adam’s sin made him subject to Satan, it would be the same for Him. He knew that He would suffer in hell until the entire debt that humanity owed justice was paid in full.

Some may have trouble comprehending these things, but they are facts, "And they made His grave with the wicked, but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand." (Isaiah 53:9-10)  The word death is plural in the original Hebrew and like Adam, Jesus died twice, spiritually and physically. Isaiah also tells us, "He has put Him to grief…" The word grief here means, to make sick, to be diseased, to afflict. The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul tells us, "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.) (Galatians 3:13) We see that Jesus was made sin with our sin, was made sick with our sicknesses and a curse.

This should gives us a greater understanding as to what Jesus was going through in the Garden. "Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground." (Luke 22:43-44)  He alone must pay the penalty for humanity or humanity would be eternally lost. Did you ever notice that angels never came and ministered to Him while He was on the cross. I believe there was more spiritual agony here than there was on the cross. Three times He prayed a prayer of dedication and consecration, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done." (Luke 22:42) A more literal rendering: “If it be possible, take this cup from Me, not my will, but yours be carried through to completion and save humanity.”

After Jesus finishes praying, "He came to His disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand." (Matthew 26:45-46) As Jesus emerged from prayer He had already won the the first part of the battle. He was no longer in sorrow and distress, but He was the Conqueror. He was ready for the trial; He was ready for the scourging; He was ready for the cross; He was ready to conquer sin and death; He was ready to redeem humanity from the hands of the enemy; He was ready to destroy sin, disease, poverty and everything that was set against humanity by Satan all due to Adam's transgression. Jesus emerged from prayer as the righteous, conquering King of kings and Lord of lords.

The apostle Paul tells us, "Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." (Romans 8:37) As more than conquerors, our prayer is to be one that is rooted in the Word of God. It is based on the believer knowing that their faith in Christ has already given them the victory over the circumstances that life may bring. It is one that is conceived within the believer that gives them the confidence that in Christ they are independent of their circumstances and, in a personal sense, "can do all things through Christ who strengthens." (Philippians 4:13) It is the assured confidence that God is able to do what He said He would do. (Numbers 23:19) So, let us pray like Jesus our Conqueror, especially when we are faced with seemingly insurmountable circumstance, knowing that we can, "Cast the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully." (1 Peter 5:7) Thank you LORD...

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