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September 8, 2010

Praying with Jesus

 Grieved and Distressed Today

“And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed.'”

Matthew 26:37, page 1551

         Jesus has taken all of His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane.  He has just completed the last supper with His disciples, and identified Judas Iscariot as His betrayer.  Judas left the group.  Now Jesus takes three disciples, Peter and the sons of Zebedee (James and John) to go farther into the Garden with Him.  Jesus intends to pray, knowing what lies before Him the next day: betrayal, beating, scourging, mocking, and death by crucifixion.

        Jesus now discloses to us, and all generations, what He felt inside.  He tells us that He began to be grieved (“λυπεῖσθαι“) and distressed (“ἀδημονεῖν“).  Jesus was truly man, just as we are flesh and blood with a human nature (Hebrews 2:14, page 1871).  Of course, He was also God in the flesh (John 1:14, page 1654).  Let us take a closer look at these two terms which describe the emotional life of Jesus Christ at this moment in the Garden.

      The term “grieved” means to be sorrowful, and described the feelings of the disciples in Mark 14:19, where each questioned whether he was the one to betray Jesus.   In Luke 22:45, the disciples slept because of sorrow (“λύπης“).  In this sense, both the Master and His friends were dealing with sorrow that night.  Jesus felt grief just like we do and  had real human feelings.    So, in the bigger picture, Jesus was not excited about going to cross as only a masochist would, but rather He had a normal sense of grief swelling within Himself as He contemplated His betrayal, separation from His disciples, and personal suffering awaiting Him. 

        Jesus also felt “distressed.”  This term means intense discomfort, upset, and deeply troubled.   This same root term is used to describe the distress of Epaphroditus, the companion of Paul.  Regarding the Philippian church, Epaphroditus “was longing for you all and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick (Philippians 2:26, page 1837). 

       Jesus had a strong emotional response within Him and He did not ignore it.  He knew the future, and He also knew that these three disciples, in particular, should be near Him while He prayed.  Even when Jesus felt grieved and distressed, He did not lose control, but surrounded Himself with His disciples, whom He referred to as His friends (John 15:15, page 1686).

        ●   So, we learn some more about sharing and praying with Christ.

        ●  We learn to pray like Jesus by being aware of our emotions.  It is not sinful to feel grief and to be distressed.  Even men, who want to be like Jesus, can share their feelings of sorrow and distress.

        ●  We learn to pray better when we understand that our friends in Christ will have times of intense sorrow and distress.  At those times, we should be with them, ready, willing and able to pray with them. 

       ●  We hinder our prayers when we try to ignore our feelings of grief and distress, or any other feelings.  Praying means that we share with out heavenly Father what He already knows, and we share with our friends in Christ our needs and concerns, including how we feel right now.

Application for Today

        Today, I want to be like Jesus in prayer.  When I grieve and experience distress, I want to have friends in Christ near me, who will pray with me.  Who will you be praying with you today?

 

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