Jesus, even under the greatest trials, continued to show love to all around him.
Luke 22:39 – 53
Jesus prays on the Mount of Olives
39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you will not fall into temptation.’ 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’ 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 ‘Why are you sleeping?’ he asked them. ‘Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.’
47 While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus asked him, ‘Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?’
49 When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, ‘Lord, should we strike with our swords?’ 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.
51 But Jesus answered, ‘No more of this!’ And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.
52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, ‘Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? 53 Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour – when darkness reigns.’
There are many interesting details in this section, and they will be considered as the week progresses. It would be a pity to be caught up in those details and miss the big picture of what is happening here. It is an amazing display of the love of Jesus.
Our Lord knew his arrest was imminent with condemnation, crucifixion and death to follow. It is no wonder then that we find him at prayer in the very depths of agony. His prayer is a request that, because what was to follow was so horrific, if there was some other way to save his people, let it be done the other way. Jesus was under no illusion of what it would be like to bear the sins of his people and receive the wrath of God for them. We could expect that with the weight of that horror on him, he would be at least a little self-absorbed. Instead we can observe the exact opposite was taking place.
At every instance here we see Jesus showing great concern for everyone around him. In verses 40 and 46, he encourages his disciples to “pray that you might not enter into temptation.” Jesus was concerned about their spiritual wellbeing and how they would cope with the trials to follow. He wanted them to experience unfettered confidence in him throughout the ordeal. Their ordeal, of course, was nothing compared with his.
Similarly, when his disciples became violent at the time of his arrest, he stopped it. Clearly, they would not have succeeded, and they would have lost their lives. He cared for their wellbeing as his welfare became entirely imperilled. So too, when the High Priest’s slave had his ear removed by a sword, Jesus healed him. That is, Jesus love and concern went beyond those who had been near to him during his ministry and extended to one who meant him harm.
All of this is magnified when we notice that Jesus had full awareness. He not only knew what was going to happen at the cross, he also knew who was going to betray him. He was aware of the weakness and impulsiveness of his followers. Only he among all that are involved here knew that this was a battle between him and the forces of darkness (verse53). He very deliberately acted in love when all was hostility and confusion around him.
There are two things we should take to heart from this. Firstly, we must understand the depths of the love of Jesus for us; that he did this with us in mind so that through his work we would be saved. Secondly, if Jesus could show love in these circumstances, who are we to make excuses for our failures based on our circumstances, stresses or even the hostility of others. As Jesus loves us so we are to love others as an expression of gratitude to him.
Head: Understand the love of Jesus
Heart: Respond to Jesus’ love with love to him and to others
Hands: Show the love of Jesus in your life
Prayer: Father, I thank you that Jesus showed such amazing love to all around him, and even to me. Help me to plumb the depths of that love and show something of it to others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
A song to listen to: This is Love
Living Church – Creek Road