24 October 2007

Luke 22:39-46

"Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done." (v.42)


This passage shows Jesus wrestling with what lies ahead - his own suffering and death. He has shared a final meal with his friends and now comes to pray: to wrestle with God as he faces the next few hours.

The 'cup' is often a symbol of destiny, but in the gospel it often denotes suffering and death.

The image of a 'cup' is full of resonance from earlier in the chapter where it symbolizes both liberation and suffering. Jesus had just shared the Passover Meal with his followers, which commemorates the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt.

In the gospels, Jesus interprets the Passover cup as one that symbolizes both his own death and a new relationship with God - "This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood" (Luke 22:20). Now he wrestles with the reality of what that means he must face.

"Yet not my will but yours." As I consider this week's title of wrestling faith, I think these are some of the hardest words to pray. So often those words have to be wrestled out. Please God make this happen - that's the easy bit. Yet not my will but yours - that's tough. Is it surprising that Jesus is described as having "sweat like great drops of blood"?

When Jesus returns to his disciples we see the contrast between Jesus' commitment and the disciples failure even to pray for their own need.

Immediately after, Jesus is arrested.

To Ponder

Think of those times when you've wrestled with what lies ahead. What happened?

Have you ever asked God to take something away from you - a difficult time, something you had to do…? What was the answer? And what did you do?

Bible notes author

Revd Helen White

Helen White is a Methodist minister, currently serving in the Wantage and Abingdon circuit in south Oxfordshire. She has particular responsibility for Blewbury, Didcot, Milton and Upton Methodist churches, as well as sharing in the work of other churches across the circuit.