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Good Morning, Faith Family!

I remain in Luke continuing our march to the crucifixion. This week we're in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus was praying before He was betrayed.

Jesus understands that the time has come and He retreats to a familiar place with his disciples - a place that' 'He is accustomed to'. As is also typical, the disciples followed Him. What Jesus proceeds to do in these verses is show us the love He has for His disciples, His obedience to the Father, and His humanity.

39 Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed and His disciples also followed Him. 40 When He came to the place, He said to them, "Pray that you may not enter into temptation."  41 And He was withdrawn from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours be done." 42 Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.  Luke 22:39-44

These moments in the garden are so intimate and we are given the opportunity to see them -- to see how Jesus is feeling, His moments with His Father, and the loving care He has for His disciples.

Jesus knows both what is immediately in store for His disciples and that He will be leaving them soon. He knows they will need strength to withstand the impending temptations, so He instructs them to pray to  ask for the strength to resist them. He knows they are not strong enough on their own to resist temptations and that praying will give them more strength to resist.

We can take this to heart also, as Jesus instructs His disciples, He is also instructing us. It should then make sense to us that if we stay in communication with our Lord, that He will give us that same strength to resist the temptations in this world, strength to endure all that life will throw at us. And yet, it is painfully obvious that we fall short - both in praying and in resisting temptation, just as the disciples fell short.

In this passage, Luke tells us that Jesus withdraws from the disciples, but only by a 'stone's throw', which indicates He was close enough to them that they could still hear Him. Jesus didn't want to completely separate Himself from His disciples, but He also needed precious time with His Father.

These verses clearly show us that Jesus was in agony knowing what was ahead of Him. He knew He would soon endure the horrific death on the cross, and what was even worse, He would be completely separated from God. This quite literally means the weight of the world was on Jesus. After all, this was the reason Jesus came to earth and this was the will of His Father.

Jesus' prayer is a beautiful and intimate scene. He shows us His humanity when asking the Father to take this cup -- He didn't want to take on this suffering and divine anger. In that moment He asked His Father to remove it, but only if it was His will. Even in these words, Jesus remains obedient, telling God that if it was His will, it would be done. In this intimate prayer time with God, Jesus shows us that it is ok to express our feelings to God. We too, can tell God how we are feeling and still remain obedient to His will.

In God's grace, He sent an angel to strengthen Jesus. This is a beautiful picture of God's love. What I find interesting is that once the angel strengthened Him, His agony increased. We see this in the verse 44 - where He began to pray 'more earnestly' or 'fervently' depending on the version you read. And then Luke likens Jesus' sweat to great drops of blood. Jesus is in so much agony that He is sweating blood, which is a foreshadowing of the blood shed on the cross. 

Friends, we have been given the ultimate gift. A gift that we cannot even begin to repay, nor are we expected to repay it. Jesus paid the price. Jesus is the only one who could have paid the price. The debt was too great for anyone else. Jesus loves us so much He gave His life for us.

This is how much God loves us, how He extravagantly loves us. God gave us His own Son to die, to carry all of our sins - past, present and future - to the cross so that we could be brought back to a right relationship with God. So that we can have a new way of living! We can go directly to our Father because Jesus paid it all! Jesus, so generously, gave us a new way to live. He is alive! He is the living way!

Live for Jesus because He loves us extravagantly. Live for Jesus because He gave us His everything. Live for Jesus because He is alive and gave us a new way to live.

Faithfully yours,
Kristie Livingston