Today, I’m welcoming guest writer Janelle Upton to the blog to share her reflections on the garden of Gethsemane. I really enjoyed her insights and I hope you do as well!
Can I be totally honest with you? Most times I do not in, anyway, relate to Jesus. I adore Him. I look to Him as my example of everything I should do. I cannot wait to bow at His feet in a mess of tears and profusely thank Him for dying for me. I love the way He related to Peter. I love how He treated the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. I love how He took care of His mother when He was on the cross. I could go on and on. I definitely get that Jesus was God.
However, there are only a few times where I feel like I get Jesus on a human level. One of those times is in the Garden of Gethsemane. In this story, we, the humans, get to relate to Jesus and watch Him fight His human nature. We get to see the battle He fights as He relinquishes His will to God. Jesus was gracious enough to bring his friends along so they can record this scene. There are plenty of times that the authors of the Gospels say that Jesus went off to pray and we have no idea what Jesus said to God. However, here we know.
Jesus is writing the blueprint of how to fight off our human nature. It is prayer, prayer, and a little bit more prayer.
This story is recorded in Matthew, Mark and Luke. Click here to read Mark’s version in Mark 14:32-42.
Jesus knows what the next day will bring. He knows, and He is in anguish. Jesus falls to the ground and asks for any other solution. He is fully human and knows all His death will entail. God has not called Jesus to an easy task. On the most basic level, I understand this anguish. It sounds so ridiculous because God has not asked me to take away the sins of the world, but He does ask me to die to myself.
Many times, I have asked God to change the world around me. And many times, the answer comes by way of conviction—that I need to relinquish the situation to Him completely.
Look at what Jesus does next. He goes to check on His friends. They are not helping at all, but really this isn’t their battle. God called Jesus to die, and God is calling me to die to myself. He has not called my friends to fix me. Oh no, God has called me to submit the wily ways of my human nature to His great and mighty will. God is calling you to do the same. But, what are we to do? We are so weak and so prone to our old ways.
What does Jesus do? Let’s look at the Luke portion of this story.
“Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”
Jesus prays. He prays earnestly and honestly. No fluff. No grand words. Jesus is just flat out honest. It is interesting that an angel comes to strengthen Him. The angel doesn’t come to relieve Jesus. The angel comes to strengthen Him. Consider asking that an angel would come to strengthen you. What would it be like to pray knowing that an angel has come to give you resolve to do what God is calling you to do? We are not alone. God does not leave us to fight battles on our own.
The seven words that Jesus uses at the end of every prayer in the garden is “not my will, but Yours be done.”
What would it look like if your requests ended in this? Try it. Ask for what you want and finish it with “not my will, but Yours be done.” It automatically puts our hearts on the road to submission. When I pray for my husband to change his behavior and put this phrase at the end, I begin to hear God’s voice. I begin to see my husband through God’s eyes. There is no way to pray “not my will, but Yours be done,” and not experience a heart change.
Try it tomorrow. Go through the day repeating “not my will, but Yours be done.” Practice the art of relinquishment. It will put you closer to the voice of God. It will give you the resolve to see the world as God does.
It takes a lifetime of “not my will, but Yours be done” to get our hearts in the right place.
As we move towards the holiest of days, Good Friday and Easter, may we remember that the only reason we can celebrate these days is because Jesus aligned His will with God’s and changed the trajectory of the world.
You are not alone.
Janelle Upton lives in North Carolina with her husband, Brian, and their three kids. She loves to read, walk in the woods, and hang out with friends. Her passion is to connect the truths of God to everyday life. She does this weekly in a small group at her church and on her blog, www.janelleupton.com.