The biggest test of commitment to God’s will in the life of our Lord Jesus came in the final hours before his arrest. We read of this today in Luke 22. As he instituted the last supper, he caused his disciples to search their hearts by speaking of a traitor among them. He said “Woe to that man” (verse 22). This may have triggered the “dispute … that arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest” (verse 24). ‘I’m not a traitor, I’m the very opposite!’
Spiritual growth involves walking the testing path of self-examination. Jesus met and overcame his crisis of commitment achieving complete submission to his Father’s will. This involved clarity of understanding that will and what it would accomplish. How great was his character in that, amid his own crisis, he was very conscious of his disciples’ frailty of faith. He encourages them, there is no condemnation of their human attitudes, he says, “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom” (verses 28,29).
He tells Peter, “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail” (verse 32). Peter’s feeling of overwhelming failure meant “he went out and wept bitterly” (verse 62). His faith faltered, but his ultimate faith and vision would be stronger and better balanced as a result of this experience! What folly to gloss over our weaknesses.
Consider the intensity of emotion in the Garden of Gethsemane, “and when he came to the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you may not enter into temptation’” (verse 40). How intense can prayer become? All too often normal mortals are unable to pour out their heart in prayer! Jesus did, “being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood” (verse 45).
Christ’s final words are virtually a repeat his earlier words, “Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation” (verse 46). Rising up is a positive action. His focus on their need is a help to him in keeping his own strong. There is a lesson here, for surely, as the return of our Lord grows ever more imminent and the world around us grows ever more godless, there is a parallel with the evil that was closing in on the disciples. We will need to pray constantly and urgently for one another! Temptation and testing come together so let us “Watch and Pray”.
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