Thursday, January 24, 2013



According to my records this is lesson 100 in the gospel of Luke. Luke is a great author and has given us more than anyone else about Jesus. I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am. I am learning so much as we go through this.
NOW we come to another intentional act of preparation. This time it's not physical and financial preparation, but personal and inner preparation before facing the onslaught of things to come. Jesus leads them on a field trip, maybe the most significant trip ever. Let's see what happened.  
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.

This field trip is very instructive to us on the practice of prayer. It's not exhaustive, but very insightful. Let's list out step by step what Jesus is teaching about prayer

FIRST-Pray that you will not fall into temptation. Jesus has warned them over and over that life is going to change and it will not necessarily change for the better, but for the worse. Here He urges them to pray in order that they will not fall into the trap of the evil one in the days ahead. This is true for us today, too.

SECOND-"As usual" indicates that this was a common practice-a habit. Do you have a habit of praying-talking and listening to the Lord? If Jesus felt the need to do so, what does that mean about you?

FOURTH-Jesus knelt down. There is no formula per se on how to pray, but it is interesting to note what Jesus did. I think there's something very special and meaningful about kneeling down to pray. Try it some time!

FIFTH-Jesus expressed His deepest desires-His wants. "Father, if you are willing to take this cup from me" indicates that Jesus would rather not go through with this. There is nothing wrong with expressing your deepest desires. Tell God what you really want to happen. Open up your heart to Him fully.

SIXTH-Jesus moves from "wants" to "not my will, but your will be done." Once you have expressed your deepest desires, moving to submit your will to God's will is the only way to go. This is the ultimate act of dependence upon the God of gods-for Him to have His way in your life right now.

SEVENTH-Jesus was strengthened by an angel. You may not see an angel in the process, but you will discover a new strength given to you as you practice praying in this way.

NOTE what happens next. When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. "Why are you sleeping?" he asked them. "Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation."

Can you see yourself in the disciples? I can see you there-and me. Here they are facing the greatest temptation or trial they will ever face, yet that isn't bothering them nearly as much as their tiredness.

It's the ever-present battle between the temporal and the eternal. The temporal doesn't matter that much. The eternal is the most important of all. That age-old verse comes to mind:




This is a short passage here in Luke 22:35-38, but it is filled with a practical insight for us today. Earlier in the writings of Luke Jesus tells the disciples not to take along a purse, a bag or sandals. In other words, "Don't worry about taking these provisions along with you while on your mission."
I can't tell you how many times I've heard on "Christian" radio a variety of preachers say that you don't need to worry about your wallet or coat or sandals and that is what God requires to be working most effectively for Him. There are even preachers that say to their audiences to not even pay their bills, but to give that money to God and God will pay those bills.

The problem with this approach is the same problem that many have in teaching a balance in the Scriptures. People tend to not read far enough. When you read further in the text, you will always find the balance and the truth of it all. When you stop too soon, you will always have an imbalanced perspective on whatever the subject may be,

This is exactly what we have in this paragraph. We have the rest of the story. Jesus did say earlier to His disciples to not worry about taking along their normal provisions. That was because Jesus was walking along with them-eating with them, sleeping with them and ministering alongside them. NOW in this paragraph Jesus is saying that they are about to embark on a new game-plan.

Jesus is going to be leaving them and NOW they will need to make provisions for themselves. Just as it was the right thing to not be concerned with those everyday provisions when Jesus was with them; it is NOW the right thing to make sure you take along your provisions. He even suggests that the disciples protect themselves by carrying a sword. Let's check it out:
Then Jesus asked them, "When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?" "Nothing," they answered. He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: 'And he was numbered with the transgressors'; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment." The disciples said, "See, Lord, here are two swords." "That is enough," he replied.

So, what's this saying to us today? I think the basic thing that is needed for disciples today is a good dose of common sense. While Jesus was traveling with the disciples there was no need to be concerned about the basic needs of life.

But the times were about to change dramatically. For us there may be times when needs are met without much concern at all and there are times that you must work very hard to make things work. In either case, your preparation is necessary. Here's the principle: The Lord gave you five senses plus "horse" and "common", therefore use them all in living your life for Jesus. It's a real partnership. You do the possible by faith that God will do the impossible.