LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY SERIES, Message #4, The Sympathetic High Priest, Ed Miller, August 2023

Listen to the audio above while reading the transcript below which is also available for download at www.biblestudyministriesinc.com

Meditation and Opening Prayer

As we come to look in God’s word, since only God can reveal God, we need to come as little children because He’s promised that He would reveal Himself if we would come as children.  We can’t work up a child-like attitude; that, also, is a gift of the Lord.  So, we need to trust Him to work in our hearts.

I’d like to share two verses before I go to prayer.  One of them is recorded in Matthew, and it’s the feeding of the four thousand.  What I’m about to tell you is literal but there’s also spiritual significance in these facts.  The facts are that people had come from a long way to see Jesus minister.  They observed miracles, and they were with Him, and the Bible says it was for several days.  They had come a long way and they were there for several days.  Matthew 15:32, just these words from that verse, “I feel compassion for the multitude because they remained with me three days,” and then He says, “I do not wish to send them away hungry, less they faint along the way.”  Now, that’s all literal; they came a long way, they stayed three days, and at that time the multitude had not been fed, and the Lord said that He had compassion on them, and that He didn’t want to send them away hungry, because He didn’t want them to faint on the way. 

Those are the facts, but now the spiritual side.  Some of you in your pilgrimage have come a long way.  I don’t know where you’ve been, but the Lord does, and you’ve been with Him for several days.  It’s been a glorious time, but He has a passion on His heart, He has a compassion, and He said, “I don’t want to send them away hungry.”  He wants to feed us; He doesn’t want us to go away hungry.  The reason He gives is that if they go away hungry, they’re going to faint along the way.  So, may this meditation, that the Lord knows where you’ve come from and how far you’ve come, and even though you’ve sat in His presence and observed many things, as we draw near to the end, how quickly these weekends go, don’t go away hungry.  Our Lord wants to feed you, otherwise you’ll just faint along the way.  With that in mind, let’s pray together.

Our heavenly Father, thank You that You desire so much that we do not depart from our flocking, from our gathering, hungry.  We ask You, Lord, to feed us; minister unto us, and send us away full and rejoicing, so we don’t faint along the way.  Thank You in advance that You’re answering this prayer, and You’re going to continue to answer it because we claim it in the matchless name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Amen.


I don’t think we need a lot of review, but because I teach once a week, I’m so used to reviewing, let me just review a little.  Our entire gathering with my privilege has been based on Romans 8:26&27,

 “In the same way, the Spirit helps our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

Our meditations have been around that double truth, that I don’t know how to pray, and you don’t know how to pray, but there’s One who lives in your heart that does know how to pray—the blessed Lord Jesus in the Person of His Holy Spirit.  He lives in you to pray; He lives in me to pray and to teach us to pray. 

In our first lesson we showed that God is all-supply; He doesn’t have any needs.  We’re needy; we don’t even begin to know how needy we are.  God desires to pour His life, His fullness into His needy creation.  That’s what we looked at, that God has that love and compassion to make Himself known.  In that connection between the all-sufficient God reaching down to needy man, we put that little word in there and call it “prayer”; that makes that wonderful connection.

Sometimes, you ask, “How long should I pray?  I want to pray and I want to trust God.”  Psalm 62:8, “Trust in Him at all times, and pour out your heart before Him.”  “Should I pray for ten minutes or fifteen minutes or half an hour?”  Can I suggest you pray until you’ve prayed.  You know what I mean by that—until you’ve poured out your heart; pray until you’ve prayed.  “When should I stop praying?”  You won’t know that when you start, but you’ll know when to stop, when you’ve poured out your heart.  So, pray until prayer makes you stop praying.  It sounds confusing but it’s actually very simple.  The Lord will guide you in that.

In our second lesson, we stressed relationship.  If I’m going to have communion with God, that prayer, I must be rightly related to the Lord, and we illustrated that in the Lord’s Prayer, and with the so-called conditions of answered prayer; that is a relationship with Him.  God is fullness, yet He thinks about me.  He’s fullness, and He thinks about you. 

Last evening, we looked at the will of God, and our Lord Jesus as the mediator of the New Covenant.  The will was made in eternity, in the mind and the heart and in the purposes of God.  There’s a new covenant.  The will of God, as we saw last night, was the last will and testament of God.  The will of God was God’s will, the will that He made, and you’re the beneficiary, and so am I.  We are the ones that He has named in the will, and it’s all about the inheritance.  The will is not in effect until the testator dies; the one who made the will dies.  Our Lord Jesus died to put that will in effect, but we don’t know, until He shows us, everything that’s in the will.  So, His ministry now is to take us by the hand and lead us to our needs.  When we see our needs, He shows us His provision in Christ, and when He shows us His provision, He invites us to call upon the Lord, and we begin to claim our share in the inheritance. 

It’s true that the inheritance has what we call common blessings and, also, redemptive blessings.  Sometimes, we’re a little surprised to see our name in the will of God as our inheritance, and some of the things that are in the will, on the level of earth seems like, “I don’t really want that.  I don’t think that should be part of my inheritance.”  And yet, we need to understand that He has died to give us that inheritance, and He is living now to absolutely make sure that you don’t miss anything that He died to give you, and I don’t miss anything that He died to give me. 

Hebrews 4:16, “Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  Before I leave that verse, I want to make one comment about it; that expression “throne of grace”, you can go to even the most uninstructed Christian and say, “What’s the throne of grace?” and everybody seems to know that, that we’re going to go to the throne of grace, and we’re going to pray.  The comment I want to make is, that expression “throne of grace” appears only one time in the Bible, and it’s right here.  That’s the only time you’ll see “throne of grace”, and everybody knows it.  Why?  The answer is because we’re so needy.  So, we come to the throne of grace, that we might find help, mercy and grace in time of need. 

If you claim all the will of God for you, Psalm 16:5, you’ll be able to sing with David, “The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; Thou does support my lot.”  Whatever is in the will for you, no matter how negative it seems, the lines have fallen to you in pleasant places and your heritage is beautiful; my heritage is beautiful.  Once you see that it’s the will of God, and you say, “Yes,” then He’ll take those things, and every experience will bring you closer to Him; He’ll unveil Himself in fresh and new ways.

Romans 1:10, I’ll give an illustration; for the Apostle Paul there was something in the will, and the Spirit of God laid it on his heart, “Always, in my prayers making request,” he’s praying, “if perhaps, now at last, by the will of God, I might succeed in coming to you.”  God put it in the will for Paul to want to go to Rome.  So, he prayed, “I’ve been praying,” he said, “to come to Rome.  I want to come to Rome.”  That was in the will, but he had no idea at that time, when God answered that prayer, that he would be in chains.  Did he get to Rome?  Oh indeed, he did, as a prisoner, and that’s the redemptive part, because if he didn’t get to Rome, you wouldn’t have the book of Philippians, and you wouldn’t have the book of Ephesians, and the book of Galatians, and the book of Philemon.  Paul didn’t know, when he said, “I want to go to Rome; I’m praying that I can go to Rome,” that God would answer that redemptively.  We can praise God!  That’s what He’s going to do for you; you’ll see something in the will with your name on it, and you’ll say, “Okay, I claim it,” but God will work His own purposes.

That brings us to our new material.  It’s sort of a clincher; I’m just praying that God would tie up any loose ends.  I know we’ve touched on some very precious truths.  I told you early in our gathering that we would look at three illustrations, and from those illustrations we would find a principle.  The first picture was the Lord’s Prayer, and we looked at that, and the principle was relationship.  Last evening, the picture was the priesthood of Christ, and the principle was the will of God, the last will and testament of our Lord.

Gethsemane—Spiritual and Historical Background

Now, we’re going to look at the third illustration—Gethsemane.  This is holy ground, and I know the Lord has worked in my heart much, that I would approach this in worship and just with the awesomeness that it is.  We’re looking at prayer, and that’s what brought me to Gethsemane.  It’s hard to study prayer, and then leave Gethsemane out; you have to include Gethsemane. 

Let me give you a few general things that you probably already know.  The record of our Lord in Gethsemane is in Matthew 26:36-55, and Mark 14:32-51, and in Luke 22:39-53, and it’s also recorded in the first ten verses of John 18.  We all know the story.  He took His disciples, Judas being absent, to the garden, and then He took three of them, Peter and James and John, and they went a little closer, and then He went a distance away and prayed to His holy Father God.  Even though tonight we’re two thousand years beyond that event, I think we’ve actually closer to that event than Peter, James and John were, because they were closer in the body, but as far as Spirit and light and understanding, I think we’re a lot closer to the message that is recorded there. So, we want to look at Gethsemane, almost as the climax of His prayer life in His first body, His incarnate body.

Although there are many interesting things about Gethsemane, that’s not where we’re going; I want to stick with prayer.  So, the meaning of the name “Gethsemane” is very interesting, the location of Gethsemane is very interesting, the discussion about was it an orchard or a garden is very, very interesting, how often Jesus went there with His disciples is interesting and, perhaps, instructive, but I want to just focus on Gethsemane, and we’ll build up to it—the prayer our Lord Jesus prayed. 

The reason I want to focus on that is because the One who prayed at Gethsemane lives in my heart, and the One who prayed in Gethsemane lives in your heart, and He lives there to intercede.  I don’t know how to pray, but He does; He lives in my heart.  I’m suggesting that the way He prayed in Gethsemane is the way He will pray in your heart; and what He prayed in Gethsemane is exactly what He will pray in your heart and mine.  So, our approach to Gethsemane is not going to be technical as much as devotional.  When I say “devotional”, I don’t mean mystical; I mean that which stimulates devotion.  To me that’s devotional, it makes you love Jesus more, and I hope we can see that.

I remember several years ago at this conference, you invited Brother Luciel, and he shared on Gethsemane, and I was so glad to sit under that ministry; it was such a wonderful ministry.  But our approach is not going to be quite like that.  He got into some really wonderful things about Gethsemane, but from a different vantage; we’re not going to contradict each other, but we’re just looking at it from a different point of view.

I want to give you the historical and the spiritual background that led up to Gethsemane.  What took place just before Gethsemane?  We’re not going to start at Bethlehem, we could, but we’re just going to talk about what immediately led up to Gethsemane.  You remember the most wonderful chapters, when they were in the Upper Room, John 13-17.  John 13-16, my, what teaching, what wonderful things as our Lord poured out His heart!  After the teaching, He prayed, John 17, the high priestly prayer.  Now, what did He talk about in John 13-16; what was on His heart just before He went to Gethsemane, just before He went to the cross?  We don’t have time to look at it in detail but let me just refresh your mind.

It began there with the washing of the disciples’ feet, and then Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled!”  I think that’s a bad chapter break.  What did He say just before He said, “Let not your heart be troubled?”  The answer is, “Peter, before the cock crows, you’re going to deny Me three times; let not your heart be troubled.”  That’s what He was talking about.  And then, He was talking about the place that He was going to prepare, and He said, “I go,” I think, to the cross, “to prepare a place for you.”  It’s a very precious thing. “In His Father’s house there are many dwelling places.”  This is a wonderful night for them, but what a conference, when our Lord Jesus begins to teach.  He begins to say, “If you see Me, you’ve seen the Father.  Greater works than I’m doing, you’re going to do.  My Father is going to send the Holy Spirit, and He’s going to come and live in you.”  He gives a legacy of peace, “My peace I leave, not as the world gives, I give unto you.”  He talks about the vine, and He talks about the branches, and fruit bearing through abiding in the vine, and tells them to love one another, and He just opens up His heart in so many ways.  He said that the Holy Spirit is going to come in, and when He comes in, He’s going to, through you, convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment.  You can’t imagine what was covered in one night—the material.  Who is the teacher?  It’s not Jim or Ed Miller.  Our Lord Jesus is teaching these disciples, and then at the end, He prays.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a Bible conference with the Lord Jesus in person, teaching you all these things?  Wouldn’t you think that after hearing all those wonderful truths—the vine and the branches, and fruit bearing, and love, and His Holy Spirit, and indwelling—that they would leave that room as the most victorious Christians on the planet?  Never have ears heard such wonderful things!  You talk about going to a conference where Christ is exalted and it’s all about union with Christ, and the exchanged life, and Him living in you, and Him living through you, and manifesting Himself; all that teaching did not have effect on them.  That whole block, beginning with the foot washing, all they heard, it didn’t help, and He gives the reason, “The flesh is weak.”  You see, when He arrived, Matthew 26:41, “Keep watching and praying, that you may not enter temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  He gave all this truth, and He prayed, and He said, “You pray.”  Well, He prayed, but they didn’t; they fell asleep.  So, the flesh is weak.  All that truth, everything they heard, all in glorious gospel, and then they fall asleep, and they feared, and they denied the Lord, and they struggled, and they fled, and they scattered.  You would think that after a conference like He just gave, it would be the opposite of that; they would go out rejoicing and filled.  Unless He prays and I pray, no matter what you hear, it’s not going to take effect.  Now, if you read John 17, you get sort of a foretaste of what He prays.  We don’t have time in our little gathering here to go into that, but I encourage you to meditate on that.* The heart of Gethsemane now, just before Gethsemane, He prayed that prayer, and as they were going in He said, “You pray.”

The Garden of Gethsemane – Jesus, the God-man – Illustration #3

I want to call attention to an important truth.  I’ll state it from Hebrews, and then we’ll go into Gethsemane.  Hebrews 2:16, “Assuredly, He does not give help to angels; He gives help to the descendants of Abraham.  Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people; for, since He Himself was tempted in that which He suffered, He’s able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.”  Then Hebrew 4:14, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest, who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession, for we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness, but one who has been tempted in all things, as we are, and, yet, without sin.”  So, I say, “I don’t know how to pray; He does; He lives in me.”  The priest is going to pray; He lives in me.  But what I want to call attention to, if you are going to understand God’s heart in Gethsemane, it’s not only the priest that’s going to pray in you; it’s the sympathetic high priest.  He’s God/man, but here He’s man; He’s praying as man.

I want to point this out because the God/man lives in your heart, but when it comes to praying, He knows all about you.  He knows all about you because He’s God by omnipotence, but He knows all about you, also, because He’s man; He knows about you by human experience.  Hebrews 4:13, “There’s no creature hidden from His sight; all things are opened and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”  You can’t hide anything from the Lord; I can’t hide anything from the Lord.  He’s God, and He knows my heart, and He knows my motives.  We don’t have to play games, and we don’t have to fake it; God knows us. 

I’m just going to machine gun these references.  When He lived on the earth in His first body, in His incarnate body, He was a man, a man trusting a man who lived inside of Him—His Father.  Matthew 4, “He was hungry.”  John 19, “He was thirsty.”  John 4, “He was weary.”  John 11, “He wept.”  Mark 7, “He sighed.”  Mark 8, “He groaned.”  He was angry, Mark 3, “He got annoyed.”  Mark 10, “He rejoiced.”   Luke 11, “He was in agony.”  I’m calling attention to the fact that He was a man, just like you and just like me.

Some might ask, and I’ve asked this question, and I think the Lord has begun to answer it—I’m not sure I’ve got the full answer— “How could He be tempted in every way that we are tempted?”  He was never sick, and the sick sometimes have temptations.  He was never married.  Anybody married have… you know what I’m talking about?  He didn’t get old.  Old people have certain temptations.  He was tempted in every way.  He was never an invalid.  He never had a limb amputated from His body.  He never went bankrupt, and yet He was tempted in every way.  How could He have the shame and the embarrassment and the regret of the drunkard, and the shame of the adulterer and pervert and the wife abuser and the child abuser and the arsonist?  What are they going through in their minds and how are they being tempted?  The dictator, was He tempted to embezzle?  “Tempted in every way.”  You go into other lands, I wonder what’s going through the heart and mind of the cannibal, a polygamist, an addict.  He was never on drugs. He was never in a cult. He never broke a bone.  He never had a breakdown.  He was tempted in every way.  There are frustrations and hurts; people are going through stuff, a lot of stuff, and they need to know that the Lord Jesus can sympathize because He’s experienced all of that.

Jesus Became Sin and Sinner   

May I make this suggestion of when He experienced all of that?  2 Corinthians 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin, to become sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God.”  I don’t know if it was completed here, but it was certainly begun in the garden; He became every man, and He became every woman, and He became every child.  He didn’t just pay for your sin; He became sin; He became the sinner.  Every person in every nation under every condition, every age and every emotion they ever experienced, He experienced.  He not only paid for your sin and mine, and we celebrated it tonight, we can’t praise Him enough for what He went through.

To think that Jesus, in order to identify, He didn’t only pay for the sin of the pervert; He became a pervert.  No wonder He sweat drops of blood.  He became the addict; He became a terrorist.  He had to become a Satan worshipper, in order to forgive, to enter in, to identify with them.  When He went to the cross, imagine this, our Lord Jesus had to become an idolator, and He had to become a blasphemer.  Our Lord Jesus had to become an atheist, in order to pay for the sin of the atheist.  He became sin for us; He not only paid the debt, but He became sin, so He could be a sympathetic high priest, and say, “I’ve gone through everything; I’ve had every experience that you’ve ever had; I’ve experienced that.” 

What I’m about to show you, and God showing you, is that this One who became sin, who experienced everything, the sympathetic high priest, lives in your heart to pray with you.  You are going to pray, too, but He’s going to pray with you.  The Holy Spirit, when He writes this, He sort of expresses things in the extreme, in other words, what took place in Jesus was extreme, and everything lesser is included in the greater. 

Let me mention a couple of things that are extreme.  His sorrow was extreme.  Just before He went to the garden, He said in Matthew 26:38, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here with Me and keep watch.”  He was deeply grieved; that was before the garden.  I think Hebrews 5:7 describes when He was in the garden, “In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears, to the One who able to save Him from death; He was burdened because of His piety.”  Since there’s no record that that took place on the cross, we think it was in the garden, where He cried, and the Greek is, “At the top of His lungs.”  That’s an extreme; and the greater includes the lesser.

Another extreme is Luke 22:44, “Being in agony, He was praying very fervently, and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.”  Just that expression, “became like drops of blood.”  I’m not going to spar with those who think it’s not literal, and blood didn’t actually come through His veins.  I don’t know about all of that; I’m going to leave that to the theologians, but it’s quite an expression, to sweat blood, and it was applied to our Lord Jesus.   Luke 22:44, “Being in agony, He was praying very fervently, and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.”

So, the Holy Spirit describes His sorrow as extreme, and He describes His agony as extreme.  I want to make one other illustration of the extreme.  Matthew 26:39, “He went a little beyond them, fell on His face and prayed, ‘My Father, if it’s possible, let this cup pass from Me, yet, not as I will but as You will.’”  Mark 14:36 states it this way, “He was saying, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for You; remove this cup; yet, not what I will but what You will.’”  I’m referring to the fact that to these eyes it looks like He is recoiling; He’s shrinking back.  Whatever is in front of Him, it looks like He’s shrinking back, sweating drops of blood, almost like He’s afraid to go through what is coming. 

I know that’s not the case because of Matthew 13:16, “Truly, I say to you, ‘A slave is not greater than His master, nor is the one who is sent, greater than the one who sent him.’”  When I read, like Fox’s Book of Martyrs, on the level of earth, it’s not true, but it looks like some of His servants are braver than He is.  He looks like He’s recoiling, and doesn’t want to go through it, and you read about some of these martyrs….  I don’t know if you’ve ever read some of Fox’s Book of Martyrs, “You ask for a miracle, I feel no hurt in these flames.”  That was a testimony.  Jerome said, “Bring hither your torch; if I feared death, I could have avoided it.”  It’s almost like they’re courting martyrdom. John Bradford, “Be of good comfort, brothers, we will have a merry supper tonight with the Lord Jesus.”  That’s what he said.  This is marvelous!  A martyr in 1549 named Jensen, just before He was committed to the flames, he said, “This is the most joyful day of my life.”

When you hear things like that, and you know, as our brother was sharing, that God gives the grace, but I only quote that because it appears that the servants are braver than Jesus, “Let it pass; I don’t want that; I’m sweating drops of blood; let me out of here!”  And the servants are standing up.  Why does it look like He was shrinking back?  Hebrews 12:2, “For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross.”  It wasn’t fear; He was joyful when He went to the cross.  What was He recoiling from?  May God show us this!  I think this is one possibility.  He had been in fellowship with His holy Father God for millions and millions and millions of years, and He was about, for the first time, to have broken fellowship with His God because He represented you and me.  I think He was shrinking from that idea of broken fellowship with God.  I also think that we should recoil from that; there’s nothing worse than broken fellowship with the Lord.  I think that’s one reason it looks like He was shrinking back. He dreaded to be separated from God.

Let me suggest another reason why He might have been shrinking back from the cup.  I remind you that when Jesus prayed, He was alone.  Eight of the disciples were outside at the gate, and three of the disciples were a little closer, but they were asleep, but Jesus went on and He prayed, and He was alone; He prayed by Himself.  In other words, no one was there to hear it, and yet we’re going to look at it.  The Holy Spirit recorded it, but no one was there to hear it.  How did Mark and Matthew and John know?  Of course, we say it was the Lord, but I think it’s because of His repetition, Matthew 26:39, “My Father, if it’s possible, let this cup pass,” if it’s possible.  Did the cup pass?  The answer is no, it did not.  Why?  It’s because it wasn’t possible.  I think God has recorded that to show us that there’s no other way you can get saved.  He always gets His prayers answered, and He said, “Lord, if there is any other way, let this pass,” and to my heart, one of the greatest assurances that there is salvation in no other than our Lord Jesus, is because He’s recorded that prayer.  If it was possible, it would have come another way; there’s no possibility.

Jesus Prays in and Through Us

Alright, take those extremes; no one ever had sorrow like He had sorrow, and no one ever agonized like He agonized, and no on was ever shrinking back and looking like He was afraid and dreading like our Lord Jesus, and we get closer now to the point.  The One who prayed in Gethsemane is Jesus, the sympathetic, the One acquainted with you, and every experience you’ve ever had or ever will have, He now lives in your heart, and Gethsemane is going to be repeated. 

I’ve had people ask me to pray for them, and I’m sure you’ve asked people to pray for you, and others have asked you, “Will you pray for me?”  Of course, they weren’t here this week, “You’re asking somebody that doesn’t know how to pray to pray for you.”  They’re asking somebody that doesn’t know how to pray to pray for them.  Here is an amazing thing; the Lord Jesus is praying for you right now, and the Lord Jesus is praying for me.  I speak as a fool, but what if we could get the Bible saints to pray?  What a wonderful thing!  On Sunday I would ask Jeremiah, “Would you do me a favor?  Pray for me.”  And then on Monday I would ask Isaiah, and Tuesday Moses, and Wednesday Jonah, and Thursday Elijah, and Friday Paul, and Saturday David.  That can’t happen, but how wonderful it is that the Lord God Jesus is praying for you and praying for me.  When people ask me to pray now, I actually make it a habit, I always try, and say, “I’ll be happy to pray for you, but I want you to know that the Lord Jesus is praying for you.”  I remind them of that because it’s such a glorious truth.  Jesus, the sympathetic high priest, who knows all your needs, and wants to meet all your needs, and He understands, and He’s been tested in every way like you’ve been tested, and He’s never tired of you coming to Him with your needs.  That’s why He has a throne of grace, that you would come; it’s an invitation to come. 

Luke 22:40, “When He arrived at the place, He said to them, ‘Pray, that you may not enter temptation.’” That’s the first thing that happened when they arrived, Jesus said to them, “Pray.”  Then we read Matthew 26:36, “And Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He said to His disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’”  Do you see what’s happening?  Jesus said to them, “For the first time, we’re going to pray together; you pray over there, and I’m going here and I’m going to pray, as well, and we’ll praying at the same time in different places.  I’ll be praying in one place, and you’ll be praying in another place.”

It’s interesting when you go through the Bible record, there’s no record that Jesus ever prayed with His disciples.  He prayed for them, He prayed in their presence, so they could hear, but He never got together with them and said, “Let’s pray together.”  He never did that.  This is the first time.  He said, “Let’s pray together.  You go over there and pray, and I’ll go over here and pray,” and He prayed, and they didn’t.  This is going to become very important.  You know what happened because they failed to pray; they fell asleep.  Mark 14:38, “Keep watching and praying, that you may not come into temptation.  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  Because they didn’t pray and add their prayer to the prayer of the Lord Jesus, they failed, and fell asleep, they struggled, they feared, they denied the Lord, and they were scattered.  In the garden, Jesus prayed, and He wanted to pray with them.

I’ll show you another parable, a parallel between His prayer and ours.  The first word Jesus said when He prayed, Mark 14:36, “He was saying, ‘Abba, Father.’”  I’m quite sure you’ve heard that word and meditated on it.  They call it the child’s prattle; it’s daddy, it’s dada, and it’s as simple as you can get.  When I studied Gethsemane, I was always moved by the intensity of His prayer, that He’s sweating drops of blood, but I think I’m more taken now with the childlikeness of His prayer, “Abba.”  He goes just a day before the cross, and He just says, “Daddy,” and He calls out.  The reason that’s so powerful is because that’s what happened when you got saved.  Galatians 4:6&7, “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts crying, ‘Abba, Father.’”  He’s in your heart crying, “Abba.”  But here’s the other side, Romans 8:15, “You’ve not received the spirit of slavery leading to fear again; you’ve received a Spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’”  Who is crying “Abba”?  The answer is it’s the Holy Spirit is, and so am I.  The Holy Spirit is, and so are you.

I want to show you now how He prayed, because as a man in your heart, a sympathetic high priest, He’s going to pray.  We know He prayed three times in Gethsemane, and they’re very similar.  When you read the different records, they’re very similar, but there’s a nuance; there’s something that’s slightly different from the first time He prayed, the second time He prayed, and the third time He prayed.  The words might sound the same, but the emphasis is different. 

The first time He prayed, Mark 14:36, “He was saying, ‘Abba Father, all things are possible to You; remove this cup from Me.  Yet, not as I will, but as You will.’”  The emphasis is not, “Not as I will.”  The emphasis is on, “Remove this cup.”  He knows all about you, and knows all about me, and He knows when we’re facing a trial, the first thing we’re going to pray is, “Remove this cup; let it pass.”  That was a very human cry, and I’m just going to encourage you, Brothers and sisters in Christ, don’t be afraid to be human; don’t try to be so spiritual.  You’re who you are, and God lives in you, and His first cry in Gethsemane was, “Remove this cup.”  He prayed that.  He was wise and I’m foolish, and He is holy and I’m sinful, He’s right and I’m always wrong, and He prayed that.  That was the emphasis and that was the nuance in His first prayer.  He was saying, “Remove this cup,” even though He added, “Your will be done.” 

I call attention to the extremes in the Garden of Gethsemane.  We say, “Remove the cup.”  He had strong crying, and He was weeping at the top of His voice.  When God brings a trial in your life, let Him pray, and the first prayer is, “No, not this; I don’t want this.  Please remove the cup; let it pass.”  Don’t be afraid to shed those tears.  Don’t be afraid to sigh.  Don’t feel guilty if you’re saying, “I don’t like this, and I don’t want this in my life.”  God allows you to have a loss, a dear loved one that you’ve been connected to, or a family member or a friend, and say, “No, no, Lord, I don’t want that to take place.  Remove the cup.”  Maybe it’s a financial loss, “Remove it, Lord.”  “I don’t want the storm.”  “I don’t want the fire.”  I don’t want the affliction.”  Your heart is broken because of your kids or your grandkids.  Your first response is, “Lord, no, please, not this.”  “I’m misrepresented.”  “They’re lying about me.”  “I’m being persecuted.”  Or sometimes it’s just the consequences of your own stupidity that you’re experiencing. 

Our Lord Jesus, according to the record, went out to seek sympathy from His friends, and they were unconscious; they were sleeping.  Sometimes, you are going to be going through stuff, and your heart is going to cry out and say, “Lord, no, please, take this cup from me,” and you’re going to find some Christian to sympathize with you, and they might be sleeping.  It’s not unusual to cry; it’s not unusual to cry a lot.  It’s not unusual to cry out loud, but once you find out that there’s no other way, that the Lord Jesus who lives in your heart prays again, and He prays another way.  Everything in your heart might be to cry out, at first, but you’ve got to continue praying; that’s how it starts, but Jesus kept on praying.  Everything in your heart will be crying out, “Let this cup pass.”  That’s because we have our eyes on the cup and not on the hand that holds the cup and presses it to our lips.  Sometimes it feels like you’re sweating blood.  When Jesus prays through you, it always begins that way.  Again, I just encourage you, don’t feel embarrassed or guilty; your sympathetic high priest knows that’s where it will begin.  He’s human and you’re human, and that’s why He starts there.

Let me take you to the second prayer, and the nuance.  Matthew 26:42, “He went away again a second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.’”  You can see progress here.  This is more of an acquiescence; it’s more of, “Alright, I’m stuck with this, and it’s in my life, and I don’t have a choice.”  And then you think, “Well, whatever you see best,” and you acquiesce, and you give it to the Lord.  It’s not quite a full surrender, because you’re still having the idea, “If I had a choice, I’d want to pass, but I don’t have a choice, and so I just accept it from the Lord.”  That’s the second time He prayed.  First, “Let it pass,” and the second was, “Alright, if that’s not possible, Your will be done.”  But there’s still a trace of your own wish in that second prayer; you’re not completely looking away from the cup.  Don’t stop praying; Jesus didn’t stop praying.

The third time He prayed is recorded in Luke 22:42, “He knelt down and began to pray saying, ‘Father, if You’re willing, remove the cup, yet not My will but Yours be done.’”  There’s another emphasis there in the original.  There’s not a trace or desire of His own wish in this third prayer.  All hesitation is gone; He has recognized that everything is redemptive, and He’s saying, “I’m not only accepting it, but I choose it; I want it.  Not My will; I want Your will.  Let it pass, but if it’s possible, but I know it’s Your will, if it’s not possible to pass, I accept it; and now He comes to the place that He says, “Lord, I want it; I want what You want.”  Now His eyes are completely on the hands of His Father, “The cup that the Father gives Me, shall I not drink it?”  He now sees that it’s all part of the redemption, and He receives it.  First, it’s quite human, and then we look at it and say, “Well, His will is best, so I accept His,” but you come to the place where you say, “Not My will.”  So, you lose the certainty of gaining your own wish, but you gain the comfort in knowing that you have conquered through not conquering.  You have conquered by all out accepting His will. 

That’s how He prays in you.  So, when you pray, you’re praying with Him.  It’s the sympathetic high priest, and it will always start that way, “Let it pass,” and then you’ll say, “Alright, I accept Your will,” and then He’ll bring you to the place, “I choose it, because I see that it’s redemptive.”

What happened next in the garden?  The answer is in Luke 22:43, “Now, an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him.”  The angel didn’t deliver Him, but He found supernatural strength.  Don’t read that la, la, la; that same strength is available to you and to me.  The Lord prays, and He prays as a friend; He prays in humanity.  He says, “I don’t want it; let it pass.”  “Okay, if there’s no other way, Your will be done.”  “Lord, not My will; I want Your will,” and in that moment you’re going to get strength from the Lord.  He’s going to give you that strength. 

I’ll never have Jesus’ cross, but I’ll have His strength.  I may never have the Apostle Paul’s thorn, but I have His God; I have His grace, and you have His grace.  Once He works in your heart, so that you’re choosing His will over yours, He’s going to send the grace, an angel to send you on your way.

What happened next?  It’s in Matthew 26:46, “Get up; let’s be going.  The one who betrays me is at hand.”  The turmoil is over; the conflict is done.  He’s received supernatural strength from the Lord, and now He says, “It’s time to rise and face the circumstances.  It’s time to rise and move out.”  As you read this, it’s so amazing because there’s no more struggle and no more crying and there’s no more sweating drops of blood, and there’s no more recoiling.  The high priest is in you, and He’s human, and your first response is, “Let it pass,” and then, “Well, if that’s not possible, okay Lord, Your will be done,” until finally you say, “I don’t want my will; I only want Your will,” and then He sends supernatural strength, and He enables you to get up, “Now, let’s go face the enemy,” and it’s all peace and rest and it’s going to become, as you know, redemptive.

Well, that’s pretty much what was on my heart this week.  I want to read again Romans 8:26-27,

“In the same way, the Spirit helps our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  He who searches the heart knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

I don’t know how to pray; He does.  He lives in my heart to do exactly that, and He’s invited me to pray with Him.  So, when you say, “Let it pass,” that’s Him in you saying, “Let it pass.”  Don’t stop praying.  He’ll bring you to the place where, “Okay, His will is best; I accept it.”  Don’t stop praying; let him bring you all the way.  He lives in you to bring you all the way to, “Not my will; I just want your will,” and then He gives you the strength, and He says, “Get up now; let’s go face it.”  May God work this in our hearts!  I’ll close with Hebrews 13:20,

“And now the God of peace who brought up from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus, our Lord, equip you in every good thing, to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ to whom be the glory forever and forever.” 

Amen.  Thank you for your kindness.