How did Jesus handle pressure – pressure that was intense that “his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44)?
In Gethsemane, which means “oil press,” the Lord Jesus Christ prayed while His disciples slept (Matt. 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46; John 18:1-2). Mark described Jesus as being “greatly distressed and troubled” (v. 33), and Jesus Himself said that “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death” (v. 34). The Lord was being pressed on every side with anxiety at what He would shortly face – having all the sins of all those who would ever believe in Him placed on Him and as a result have the wrath of His Father poured out on Him.
Even though it is not the point of the passage, and therefore not the point of my sermon last Sunday, we can learn from how Jesus faced pressure.
First, Jesus prayed. He went to Gethsemane to pray, not to eat the olives or take a nap. An experience such as the cross required serious prayer. Jesus went to His Father in prayer, which we see Him doing on many other occasions in the Gospels. Pressure should lead to prayer, not panic. When we are under pressure, prayer should be our first response and not the last.
Second, Jesus submitted His will to the Father’s. Jesus “prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him” (v. 35). In the face of the cross, He said, “Abba Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (v. 36). Jesus stated His preference to His Father, but then deferred to the perfect, pure, holy, good, and acceptable will of God. When we are under pressure, we must submit to the will of our Heavenly Father – no matter what it is.
Third, Jesus remained committed to His priorities. In John 4:34, Jesus tells us what His priority is: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” Doing His Father’s will was paramount in the life of Jesus, even if that meant being “made sin” for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). When we are under pressure, the temptation to forget our priorities, or even to change them, can be very strong. As powerful as those temptations may be, we can’t give in to it. Knowing and doing the will of God must remain our priority.
When faced with pressure, Jesus prayed, submitted to the will of His Father, and remained committed to His principles. A good lesson for us, modeled by Jesus in Gethsemane.
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