“My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” (Matt. 26, 39)
Today, we will look at Our Lord’s Prayer in the Garden of Olives on that sad and beautiful night which began His Passion and saving death for us. Our basis for this is Father Groenings’ classic, “The Passion of Jesus and Its Hidden Meaning”, from TAN Books. It is available in Kindle and paperback.
As He left the Upper Room, Jesus led His disciples in a Passover hymn, the only time the scriptures record that He sang. When they reached the Garden of Gethsemani, He cautioned the disciples to “Watch, lest ye enter into temptation”. Taking Peter, James and John, He went a bit further and told them, “My soul is sorrowful even unto death. Stay you here and watch.” Going forward, He fell on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me. nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”
Twice, Jesus interrupted this prayer to return to His apostles, and after each disappointment, returned to this same prayer, “not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” Luke then tells us, “And there appeared to Him an angel from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in an agony, He prayed the longer. And His sweat became as drops of blood, trickling down upon the ground.”
This passage of the Gospel is one of the richest troves of wisdom for meditation available to us, particularly for times of severest trial and at the hour of death. By working on this now, we prepare ourselves for these inevitable times to come. The first and most obvious thing we all notice is that Jesus is alone in His agony, His closest friends are sleeping, unaware of His great agony of spirit nor even noticing His precious blood being shed.
Think on this. Christ prayed while they slept, unaware of the danger. We too, arise at night and pray for our sleeping brethren, who close their eyes to the danger and sleep on, oblivious. But we who know, must arise and pray with Jesus, our Lord and God. Father Groenings tells us that, “in a family, a single member who knows how to pray well, is often the greatest blessing of the rest. But if those must pray who are among the sleeping, how much more those who are among the dead, i.e., among sinners.” Yes, exactly!
Finally, Christ prayed while His enemies were banding together to take Him prisoner and deliver Him to death on the Cross. In this instance, we are shown the wisdom of Christ, His lesson for us especially at this time. His enemies were uniting in one satanic focus, to destroy Him. His response was to pray! Thus, Our Lord Jesus Christ shows us by His eloquent example that prayer is the primary, the essential weapon when we are attacked or when the Church is attacked by the dark powers of this world. The attack came from within – Judas – and from without – the synagogue of satan. Just as today. Just as today. These things never change. And prayer is the weapon given to us by Our Savior Himself. Without prayer, our other actions cannot succeed.