41 Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.”
Jesus’s actions are really interesting in our reading today. He made a point of having the disciples accompany him to the Mount of Olives to pray. But upon reaching their destination he removes himself from them and then drops to his knees to offer up his prayer. Why bother bringing the disciples if he was going to pray alone? He needed the isolation to have a singular focus on the Father. The distraction of others can sometimes weaken our prayers.
Also, this passage is the only place in the gospels where Jesus lowers himself in supplication to pray. We can find him praying by standing with the disciples, or seated with them at a meal, or seated in a boat, or standing before a crowd, but here before Gethsemane, Jesus lowers himself. Our own prayer life should be so varied. Sometimes we pray with others, sometimes alone. Standing, sitting, riding in a bus; those are all times for prayer. In Jesus’ example here kneeling should be reserved for special times.
We can say that God answers all prayers, but Jesus’ hope or desire in this prayer isn’t answered. The cup of sacrifice was not taken from him. He’s still on the path to the cross. Jesus submits himself to the will of the Father – physically by lowering his body, and willfully, by offering his will to serve the Father. And it is this portion of the prayer to which God responds; in the next verse he sends an angel to strengthen Jesus for the trials ahead. Our lesson: Jesus was mentally anguished – tormented. He understood the difficult path ahead, but he lowered himself before the Father and prayed, not for himself but to do God’s will.
The basis of all Christian faith is submitting ourselves to Christ and the Father– Let God’s will be done.
Christ, let your sacrifice inspire us to be like you and fully submit to the will of the Father for our lives. In your name we pray.