It sounded like a good idea when I signed up. A few years ago I decided to add “run a marathon” to my bucket list. So, I signed up for the Martian Marathon in Dearborn 10 years ago. It sounded like a good idea. But when it came down to run the race, I wasn’t so sure I was ready. What was I thinking?
Have you ever had that experience? You commit to doing something good but when it comes down to doing it, you are tempted to quit. How do you overcome the temptation to quit? How do you stay committed to doing the right thing?
Jesus was tempted to bypass the cross, but He overcame this temptation. You can read the story below…
And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. (Luke 22:39-46)
How did Jesus overcome the temptation. How can we overcome temptation? You will notice three aspects of Jesus’ experience.
If Jesus needed to face temptation with prayer, how much more did His disciples, and do all Christians? Two key words in His prayer will help us: “if” and “remove”. Jesus was asking His Father to do something for Him if it was possible. That’s prayer – asking God for what we need and want.
For many, prayer is like the National Anthem before a baseball game. It gets the game started, but simply has no connection with what’s happening on the field. It’s a courtesy. We need to pray and ask God to move in our life.
What was this “cup” that Jesus requested not to drink? It was the wrath of God. Jesus knew that death was the wages of sin and He would pay the wages in full. He knew that death is a result of the judgment of God against sin and He would bear that judgment. He knew that He would become sin and death would bring on Him the wrath of God and that He would pay the satisfaction in full. The “cup” was the wrath of God poured out on sin.
Luke tells us that Jesus was “wont to pray”. This means it was His habit to go there. We must make it our habit to pray if we want to overcome temptation.
Jesus did not pray in order to discover the Father’s will or try to change it, but to be surrendered to it. The goal of all true prayer is that God’s will be done.
When you get on the highway, what do you do? You merge, right? You’re riding on a side road called the on-ramp, coming in toward the freeway, and you are going to merge into the major traffic. Now, it would be to your betterment to slow down and look back before entering the highway because cars are coming. You are the one who is going to need to adjust. They have the right-of-way. God has the right-of-way. He’s moving along with His plan for your life, but you have to merge. Your actions and plans must yield to His will for your life ahead of your own.
What about the sweat drops like blood? This may have been a rare condition known as hematidrosis, caused by extreme stress that cause capillaries to dilate and burst, releasing blood to mingle with sweat. The first blood Jesus shed was in prayer.
Your best prayer is “Thy will be done.”
Jesus encouraged His disciples to pray and then prayed for Himself. This is a reminder that we should expect temptation. But the disciples fell asleep. Why? They were exhausted and overwhelmed with the sadness of losing their master and friend. They need wake up and prepare to face temptation. We should be more aware of the dangers of temptation.
A story may help you understand the importance of awareness. A college professor had the mysterious habit of removing a tennis ball from his jacket pocket as he walked into the lecture hall each morning. He would set it on the corner of the podium. After giving the lecture for the day, he would pick up the tennis ball, place it into his jacket pocket and leave the room. No one ever understood why he did this, until one day a student fell asleep during the lecture. The professor didn’t miss a word of his lecture while he walked over to the podium, picked up the tennis ball and threw it, hitting the sleeping student squarely on the top of the head. The next day, the professor walked into the room, reached into his jacket, removed a baseball… No one ever fell asleep in his class the rest of the semester!
An angel helped Jesus in His temptation. Every life has its Gethsemane (challenging times) and every Gethsemane has its angel (ministering spirit from God). What an encouragement to God’s people when they wrestle and pray about difficult and costly decisions.
Wake up spiritually to the temptations that surround you.
During the Constitutional Convention of 1787, there was some controversy that teach us the value of prayer. Tempers flared and some threated to leave. Ben Franklin made this request: “We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded; and we ourselves shall become a reproach and by-word down to future ages… I therefore beg leave to move – that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service.”
We have learned some lessons about prayer, submission, and awareness to help us overcome temptation. What should you do?
- Pray that you would not enter into temptation. Pray for guidance to stay away from temptation.
- Pray that you would be delivered from evil. Pray for strength to break free from the evil that has already captured you.
- Trust Jesus as Lord and Savior. Successful prayer is a family relationship. Be part of God’s family
God has given the Christian a weapon to overcome temptations – prayer. With it, we can overcome anything. Without it, we will fall for anything. In Jesus’ own words, “Pray that ye enter not into temptation.”