Prayer Message #4 “Christ the Sympathetic High Priest in My Heart” Ed Miller March 26, 2023 at Denton De. Campground Men’s Retreat

Listen to audio above while following along below in the transcript which is also available for download in Word document from

How quickly these precious gatherings seem to go away!  Proverbs 10, life is compared to a whirlwind.  I think it is. 

As we come to look in God’s word, I want us to turn our hearts again to the Lord, and the indispensable principle; only God can reveal God, and He delights to do it and He wants to do it.  Philippians 2:13 sort of summarizes all that has been on my heart, “For it is God who is at work in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”  Let’s bow.

Father, thank You again for the privilege we have to trust You.  Thank You for living in our hearts, the indwelling life of God, in order to point us again and show us our Lord Jesus Christ.  We just pray that You would give us hearts to receive.  Lord, just enable us to behold the Lord.  Once again, if there is anything that would come out of my mouth that is not being planted by You, will you root it up?  You’ve promised to do that.  So, we commit this last session unto You, and pray that You would tie together any loose ends that might still be needed to be tied together.  Clinch these truths in our hearts.  We thank You in advance that You are going to meet with us, because we claim it in the all-prevailing name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

We come to the end of our little look at this wonderful theme on prayer.  I don’t think I’m going to give a detailed review.  I’ll just mention the big things, I’ll read the passage in Romans 8:26&27, “In the same way the Spirit also 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, and 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.”  All of our thoughts have been developed around those two truths, #1 That we don’t know how to pray, and we’re never going to know how to pray, but He has given a great provision; He has come into our hearts to pray through us, and that is a wonderful, wonderful gift of the Lord.  He knows how to pray.  Psalm 40:17, “I am poor and needy, but the Lord thinks upon me.”  Psalm 62:8, “Trust in Him at all times, you people, and pour out your heart before Him.”  Nothing less than that is real prayer.  It’s just you; it’s me, I am prayer.  When I’m poured out to the Lord, me who is all needs, poured out to Him who is all supply, by His gift, the gift of the grace of supplication, then He will fill us with His life, and we will enter in.

That brings us to our new material, our final look, the clincher.  I told you earlier that we were going to trust the Lord using three illustrations, each one containing a great principle.  The first illustration was the Lord’s Prayer, and the great principle was relationship.  All through that prayer we see relationship.  The second picture we looked at last evening was the priesthood of our Lord Jesus, and the great principle was revelation; He reveals our needs, because we don’t know what they are.  He guides us and leads us to a needy place, and then He shows us His provision, and how in Christ Jesus He has made every provision for that need.  Then He invites us to pray with Him; He will pray, and He wants us to pray with Him.  In this third illustration, which I think is the climax, we’re going to look at the Garden of Gethsemane, and again there will be a principle.  It’s only a picture, and I don’t think anyone has ever studied prayer or the prayer life of our Lord Jesus and neglected Gethsemane.  You’ve got to study Gethsemane if you’re thinking about the prayer life of our Lord Jesus.  It’s actually the summit, the height; it’s the climax of the prayer life of the Lord Jesus.

As far as the record is concerned, it’s in Matthew 26:36-55, and it’s in Mark 14:32-51, and it’s in Luke 22:39-53, and it’s in the first eleven verses of John 18.  We all know the story.  He took His three disciples, Peter, James and John deeper into the Garden.   The other disciples, Judas absent, waited outside the Garden.  He Himself went deeper and alone to pray with His Holy Father God.  Actually, even though we’re almost two thousand years removed from that experience, I think we’re actually closer to what actually took place than Peter, James and John were.  They were closer in the body; they were there physically, but I think in terms of spirit and light and experience, I think we’re actually closer to what took place there than they were.  We want to look at Gethsemane, sort of as the climax of everything, and my prayer is that it will be very, very practical in our lives.

As interesting as some of the technical things are, as usual I’m not going to deal with that — the meaning of the name “Gethsemane”, the location of where it was (there’s discussion about that), what’s the difference between an orchard and a garden (we call it a garden), and that kind of thing, and how often Jesus went there and prayed.  We’re going to pass by all of that because I want to look at Gethsemane and focus on prayer.  That was one of the main things that took place there.  The One who prayed in Gethsemane lives in your heart.  The One who prayed at Gethsemane lives in my heart.  It’s amazing to realize that the way He prayed in Gethsemane, He lives in your heart to do again.  He did not pray as our example.  He was not tempted in the wilderness as our example.  He was tempted as our substitute.  He’s praying as our substitute, and what we’re going to look at, we can expect that He’s going to do it again in our lives.  So, how He prayed then is how He prays now in your heart.

My approach is going to be a devotional approach.  I told you earlier that what I mean by devotion is that I want it to stimulate devotion; I want us to be more devoted to Christ, because we meditated on some of these things.  This is my concern, and I believe from the Lord my assignment for this morning is to look beyond the literal — I believe it’s literal, and everything is literal and it’s history and it actually took place — but I want to look at the principles, and I want to see a little bit deeper.

With those comments up front, I think it’s important to see what happened just before Gethsemane, what leads up to Gethsemane, what’s the immediate history, not the whole background or we’d be at Bethlehem, or before that, but just the immediate history.  I’m not the first student of God’s word to recognize that some of the most precious passages in the Bible, some of the most precious teaching in the Bible took place just before the experience in the Garden of Gethsemane.  I’m referring to John 13 through John 17.  John 17 has been called the High Priestly Prayer of our Lord Jesus.  Those five chapters took place just before Gethsemane, and it’s a picture as well as a history.  Those first four chapters, 13-16, contain some of the greatest teaching in the Bible.  You talk about a victorious life message, you talk about an exchanged life, when you read chapters 13-16, Jesus was teaching, He was dumping, He was pouring out His heart. 

Some of the most precious things that we know and love and embrace as believers come out of those chapters. “Let not your heart be troubled…”  Do you know what was right before that?  He told Peter (sometimes those chapter breaks are not in a good place) that he’s going to deny Him three times, “Let not your heart be troubled.”  That’s the context of that, that he’s going to deny Him and he’s not to be troubled about it.  The Lord knows all about you, and He’s not troubled.  The Lord knows all about you, and He can sit down and have breakfast with you, as He did with Peter, but what a teaching!  “Let not your heart be troubled, even though you are going to deny Me.”  Then He talks about a place that’s being prepared in heaven, and He talks about His coming again and He talks about the fact that if you’ve seen Him, you’ve seen the Father.  Then He says, “Greater works than these you’re going to do,” and He promises the Holy Spirit is going to come and live inside of you, and He gives a legacy of peace, “Peace I leave with you and My peace I give, not as the world gives.  I give you peace,” and He talks about that.  He talks about loving one another, loving the brothers, about the family.  He says that you are no longer slaves, and now you’re friends.  What teaching is in there! 

He said that when the Holy Spirit comes, you’re going to have a ministry to the world, and you’re going to convince the world of sin and righteousness and judgment.  I’m just trying to tell you that just before Gethsemane you had the greatest teaching you could ever have on the victorious life.  It’s like if you want to go to a Bible conference and you want to hear about the Lord in a Christ-centered way, here you have it Christ-centered by a Teacher who is Christ.  You couldn’t get a better conference than sitting at that table and hearing our Lord Jesus, and then He prayed.  All that teaching was followed by prayer — so necessary!  “Abide in Christ, be filled with the Holy Spirit, love one another, you’ve got a ministry,” Wouldn’t you think after leaving a conference like that, after hearing truths like that, after leaving that Upper Room, that those disciples would be the most victorious Christians on the planet?  How could you hear things like that, those wonderful truths, such high and heavenly truths, but they didn’t pray.  They fell asleep.  That’s how the Garden opens.  That’s the first words He said, “Pray, that you don’t enter temptation.”

See, all that teaching didn’t do much good for them, because it wasn’t followed by the High Priestly Prayer joined with their prayer.  That whole section teaches that.  That block of scripture, John 13-17, is so instructive, and that’s what happened just before Gethsemane.  Because they didn’t pray, because the flesh was weak, after all that teaching, they went unconscious, and after all that teaching, they began to fear, and after all that teaching, they denied the Lord, and after all that wonderful teaching, they fled away.  They scattered and were terrified.  Didn’t that teaching do them any good?  All that teaching has got to be followed by the High Priestly Prayer of our Lord Jesus, and that’s got to be joined with your prayer, because the flesh is weak.  Unless He prays and you pray, I don’t care what kind of teaching you hear, it’s going to miscarry, it’s going to wither, it’s going to die.  You could hear the best truths in the world but if He doesn’t pray and you don’t pray, you’re going to scatter.  You talk about it for a while, “Oh, that was great.  Did you hear what he said?  This is a lovely teaching.”  It’s followed by the High Priestly Prayer.  I just wanted you to see that first.  That’s what takes place before Gethsemane, and now we go to Gethsemane where it all comes to a big climax.

I want to begin by an important truth, and I’m going to state the truth from the book of Hebrews and then back 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 has suffered, He’s able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.”  Then in Hebrews 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 weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, and yet without sin.”  He identifies with our sin because He became sin.  He identifies with our weaknesses that are not sin.  He’s able to be touched with the feelings of our sinless infirmities because He’s such a high priest, tempted in all points as we are. 

The One who prayed in Gethsemane, I remind you, is the One who lives in your heart to pray again, and I call attention to this truth, that Jesus in Gethsemane was certainly the God-man.  We know that, but I’m inclined to think He prayed as a man.  In Gethsemane he was praying as a man.  The One who lives in your heart is God-man, but he’s also man.  Hebrews 4:13, “There’s no creature hidden from His sight.  All things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”  You can’t hide anything from the Lord.  He knows all about you by omnipotence, and He knows all about you by human experience.  He’s God; He’s also man. 

It’s easy to trace out in the Bible how human He was.  Sometimes it’s close, He’s at his humanity, He’s at His divinity.  I can go to Matthew 4 and I’ll show you that He was hungry.  I can go to John 19 and tell you He was thirsty.  I go to John 4 and tell you that He was weary.  I can go to John 11 and show you how He wept.  I can go to Mark 7 and show you how He sighed.  Mark 8 shows you that He groaned.  Mark 3 shows where He got angry.  In Mark 10 I’ll tell you how He got annoyed.  Luke 10 tells us that He rejoiced.  We’re going to read about His agony in Matthew 27.  He was human; He was a man.  He experienced loyalty.  He experienced disloyalty.  He experienced friendship.  He experienced opposition.  He not only became a man at Bethlehem, but when we read He became sin, He also became the sinner.  He had to become sin, but He had to become the sinner to be touched with the feelings of their sinless infirmities. 

Some say, “How can you say that He was tempted in every way?  He was never married.  He never got old.  He never got sick.  He wasn’t an invalid.  He never had a limb amputated.  Those people go through stuff.  How can He feel what they’re going through?  He never had a child abducted.  How could he experience the embarrassment and the shame and the guilt and the regret of the drunkard, the adulterer, the pervert, the blasphemer, the child abuser, the wife abuser, arsonist, terrorist, the embezzler, the cannibal, the Satan worshipper, polygamist, terrorist?  How could He feel with those who have an incurable disease?  He never had an incurable disease.  You say that in all points like us; He never went bankrupt.  He didn’t have that experience.  He never broke a bone.  He never had a nervous breakdown.  What goes through the heart, the life and the emotions of somebody who had a nervous breakdown?”  I’ve got to know that the One who lives in me has experienced everything.  He knows everything about me by omniscience, and He knows all about me by human experience.  There are frustrations and hurts and bitterness and anger and there’s grumbling.  Did He ever lust after anybody?  Did He ever lie?  Did He ever steal?  Did He ever torture anybody?  Did He ever kill anybody?  Did He ever have an abortion?  Yet we read that He’s a sympathetic High Priest, identifying with all of this.

2 Corinthians 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf.”  He not only became sin, He became the sinner.  When He walked out of the Garden of Gethsemane, He was a sinner and He was being led to the cross, and He was getting what He deserved because He became the guilty one.  He became every man and He became every woman and He became every child at every age and every condition from any nation and any condition and all the emotion, everything.  He experienced sin, though He was sinless, and He experienced the sinless infirmities that everybody goes through and everybody feels.  He knows all about you.  I want you to know before we start looking at Gethsemane, that you not only have a priest that lives in your heart to pray; you have a sympathetic high priest that lives in your heart to pray.  He DID become the pervert.  He DID become the addict, the terrorist, the Satan-worshipper, and I’m imagining that one of the most painful things He had to become, and no wonder He sweat blood, He had to become a blasphemer against His Holy Father God.  When He went to the cross, He did more than pay the debts of the sinner; He became sin, He became a hypocrite.  If you can believe it, He became an atheist.  Amazing!

Let me get a little closer to Gethsemane, and I want to give three examples because the way the Holy Spirit has recorded this, it’s in the extreme.  I want to give three examples of how the Holy Spirit describes what our Lord Jesus went through in the extreme — his sorrow is expressed in the extreme.  I’m calling attention to the extreme because, if it’s true in the extreme, it’s true in everything less than that. 

Just before He went to the Garden, Matthew 26:38, “He said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death.  Remain here and keep watch with Me.’”  That was before He went to the Garden.  I think Hebrews 5:7 tells us what He went through in the Garden, “In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplication with loud crying and tears to the One who was able to save Him from death.  He was heard because of His piety.”  Since there is no record of this experience on the cross, it’s widely believed that took place in Gethsemane.  The greater includes the lesser.  I’m sure every person in this room had shed some tears of sorrow, but not sorrow as extreme as His.  The Holy Spirit describes it as an extreme.

There’s another expression, literal but expressed in the extreme, Luke 22:44, “Being in agony, He was praying very fervently.  His sweat became like drops of blood falling down upon the ground.”  That’s extreme.  I’m not going to spar with those who want to argue, “Was that literal?  Did blood come out of His pours, or was it like drops of blood being poured down to the ground?”  I’ll leave that to others to discuss.  All I’m telling you is that it’s an extreme expression.  Being in prayer again, He was praying very fervently, and His sweat became like drops of blood. 

Hold that a moment.  His sorrow was extreme, His agony was extreme.  One more example of extreme, Matthew 26:39, “He went a little beyond them and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it’s possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet, not as I will but as You will.’”  And along with the Hebrews passage, He’s crying out loudly.  In the book of Hebrews, in the Greek I am told that it’s the expression, “at the top of His lungs.”  It’s amazing; He’s crying out at the top of His lungs.  Mark states it this way, Mark 14:36, “He was saying, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for You.  Remove this cup from Me,’” and I’m talking about now this, that to these eyes, this apparent recoiling, drawing back, shrinking back, almost looks like He’s terrified and He doesn’t want to go to the cross.  He’s sweating drops of blood.  It’s like He’s crying out, “Lord, if there is a way, please, don’t let this happen; let this cup pass.” 

Was He fearing a violent death?  I know that’s not true because of John 13:16, “Truly, I say to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’”  I have read the testimonies of martyrs that seemed braver, on the level of earth, than Jesus looked in Gethsemane.  He’s trembling.  Have you read or heard of Fox’s Book of Martyrs?  Boy, go through that; I’m telling you, “You asked for a miracle?  Behold, I feel no hurt in these flames.”— Jerome.  It says, “Bring hither your torch; I could have escaped, if I wanted to.”  They seemed so brave.  John Bradford was being led with a whole group of people to death, and he said, “Be of good comfort, brothers,” I love this, “we shall all have a merry supper tonight with the Lord Jesus.”  Exactly so!  In 1549 we read of a man named Jansen, and he was about to be executed, and he cried out, “This is the most joyful day of my life!”  Is the servant greater than the master?  I only quote that to show you that it only appears like the servant is braver than the master. 

I know that’s not true because of Hebrews 12:2, “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith who, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame.”  He went to the cross joyfully, so why is He shrinking back, or what does it look like, or what is He shrinking from?  Let me suggest two possibilities.  In my own heart I think they are more than possibilities.  In the Garden of Gethsemane, this shrinking away, and taking away the cup, I think He was shrinking back from broken fellowship with His Father God.  We read this la, la, la, “God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit; they never had broken fellowship,” not for a billion years, not for a trillion years; they’ve always been One.  He knows He’s about to face, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?”  To be God, forsaken, I think that’s one of the reasons He sweating blood, as He anticipated that, and that’s what He dreaded.  Now He lives in You; that’s the one thing you should dread, broken fellowship with God.  You ought to shrink back from broken fellowship with God.  That was precious.  I think that’s one reason He looks like He was shrinking back.

I remind you that Jesus was alone when He prayed.  Let me give you another suggestion why He might have been shrinking back.  He was alone when He prayed.  Eight of the disciples were outside, Judas being absent, and three were inside, but they were unconscious.  Jesus was all alone pouring out His heart to His Father.  If that’s the case, how come we know what He prayed, if He was all alone?  The Holy Spirit recorded it.  He said to Matthew, “This is what He said,” and He said to Mark, “This is what He said,” and He said to Luke, “This is what He said,” and now we know what He said.  Matthew 26:39, “He went a little beyond them and fell on His face and prayed, “My Father, if it’s possible, let this cup pass from Me.”  I think that little expression, “if it’s possible…”  You know Jesus always gets His prayers answered.  “If it’s possible, let the cup pass.”  Did the cup pass?  Heh… it’s not possible.  In my heart, this is the strongest proof that there is no other way to get saved, and there’s no other possibility than the Lord Jesus.  I think it was recorded so that we might know forever that there was no other name under heaven whereby we must be saved.  There’s not a possibility.  Nothing gives me more assurance that I’m right than His prayer that nobody heard, but God wanted us to hear, to show us that there was no other possibility, and this is the only way.

Anyway, to go back for a moment to the extremes, you are going to have sorrow, brothers, but no sorrow like His sorrow, and you are going to have agony, but no agony like His agony, and you’re going to experience fear and dread over certain things, but never like His.  The Holy Spirit gives us these things in the extreme.  But now we come to what I think is the chief point, not only of this lesson, but of the entire weekend; the One who prayed in Gethsemane as true man now lives in my heart to pray again as true man.  It’s precious to know that He’s praying for you.  Some have come to me and said, “Will you pray for me?”  Very often, not 100%, but most of the time I remind them that Jesus is praying for you.  I’ll be happy to pray for you.  I speak as a fool, but what if the Bible saints could pray for us?  Today is Sunday, and Jeremiah is going to pray for me, and tomorrow Isaiah is going to pray for me, and the next day Moses, and then on Wednesday Noah is going to pray for me, and then Elijah is going to pray for me, and Paul, and David is going to pray for me.  Oh brothers, I’ll tell you, better than that, and infinitely better, the Lord Jesus Christ is praying for you; every day you have His undivided attention. 

Get up in the middle of the night, you don’t have to wake Him up; He’s over there and He keeps vigil over each of you all the time.  So, you have in your heart a Priest that desires to pray.  You have in you heart a sympathetic High Priest who understands you and knows you, and He never tires of your coming.  You can’t come too often, and you can’t come too boldly; you’re going right into the Holy of Holies where the high priest could only go once a year under the old system.  You have access there every moment.

The first thing He said, as I already intimated, Luke 22:40, “When He arrived at the place,” so that’s first, “He said to them, ‘Pray, that you do not enter temptation.’”  Before anything happened at Gethsemane, He said, “pray.”  Matthew 26:36, “Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He said to His disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’”  Once again you have a scene set up here.  Do you see what is taking place?  He gets to the Garden and He says, “You pray, and I’m going over here, and I’m going to pray, so we’ll be praying at the same time.  You’ll be praying there, and I’ll be praying here, and we’ll be praying together at the same time.”

It’s interesting when Jesus lived in His incarnate body on the earth that there is no record that He ever prayed with anybody.  Do you know how a brother has a need, and we gather around and we pray with him.  Wouldn’t you expect Jesus to gather around and pray with somebody?  He never prayed with anybody.  He prayed in front of them.  They heard Him pray.  He prayed in a group; He prayed for them, that their faith wouldn’t fail.  He often prayed for them, but now in Gethsemane he says, “Let’s pray together; you pray here and I’ll pray here, and you pray that you don’t enter temptation, and I’ll be over here praying the will of God.” 

I showed you, because they didn’t pray, they didn’t do it, He prayed, and they didn’t pray, and how they failed, and how they turned their back on the Lord, and how they denied Him, and how they fled away, and how scared they were, because they didn’t pray with Him.  “You pray, and I’ll pray, and together…,” what would have the scene been like if they had prayed?  All of that teaching must be followed by the High Priestly prayer of our Lord Jesus.

I want to show you the parallel between His prayer and your prayer, His prayer and my prayer.  When I study Gethsemane, one of the things that gripped me the most was His intensity in prayer, how He was so intense.  But there’s something that strikes me more now than His intensity, and it’s in Mark 14:36, “He was saying, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you; remove this cup from me, yet not what I will but what You will.”  “Abba” has been called “the child’s prattle”.  In other words, it’s the first words a child will say, “Abba, daddy.”  It’s just “da da” almost, “Abba,” “da da.”.  So, beyond the intensity, I’m so impressed with His childlikeness.  At this point in His life He goes in the Garden, and He just looks up to heaven and He says, “Daddy.” 

I call attention to that because of verses like Galatians 4:6, “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our heart crying, “Abba, Father.”  You’re crying, “Abba, Father,” but it’s the Spirit of His Son crying, “Abba, Father.”  He’s in you praying as He prayed in Gethsemane.  Romans 8:15, “You have not received the spirit of slavery leading to fear again; you’ve received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by which we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’”  So, the Holy Spirit takes the burden of our High Priest and brings it to us, and brings it together, and says, “I’m going to call on Abba, and I put my Spirit in you, and you are going to call on Abba, and we’re going to pray together, and you pray there and I’ll pray here, and we’re going to pray together, and My incense will join with your prayer.”  It’s a marvelous picture!

I want to come to the heart of it all, and show you how He prayed in Gethsemane, because the way He prayed there is the way He will now pray in you and through you, in me and through me.  You know, He prayed three times, according to the record in the Garden of Gethsemane.  The words are very similar, but there’s a noticeable nuance the way He prayed the first time, the way He prayed the second time, and the way He prayed the third time.  I’m not talking about the words; I’m talking about the emphasis, and I’m talking about the focus.

The first time He prayed, Mark 14:36, “He was saying, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for You.  Remove this cup from Me, yet not what I will but what You will.’”  The emphasis is “remove the cup”.  I know He also added, “not what I will,” but that was not the primary emphasis.  His first prayer was, “remove the cup, let this cup pass.”  I remind you, brothers, that was a very human cry.  The Son of Man felt it; He prayed it.  It was an expression of His humanity.  It’s a necessary expression of your humanity and of my humanity.  He prayed it, and He was wise; I am foolish.  He prayed it; He was holy, and I am sinful.  He prayed it, and He’s right, and I’m wrong all the time.  He prayed it.  His first cry was, “Remove the cup,” and I think as we go through things, that’s where we start.  That’s where we must start.  If you’re human, that’s where you will start.  Don’t be afraid to be human.  He’s human and He’s in you and He’s praying. 

I call attention to the extreme because He had strong crying and tears.  When He saw the cup that was being pressed to His lips from His Father’s hand, His first cry, and I’m paraphrasing, but this is the direction, His first cry is, “No, not this, please, let that pass.  I don’t want that.”  Don’t be afraid to shed tears, and don’t be afraid to weep out loud because He did it, and He’s doing it again, and this time in you.  When you suffer loss, whether it’s financial or material, or some fire or some storm or some accident, when your heart is broken because of your kids or your grandchildren, or those you love, when you’re let down or when you are betrayed or when someone lies about you or when you’re passed over, you cry.  When you have to suffer the consequences of your own sin, your own stupidity, you cry and weep.  What did Jesus do?  He went out to seek sympathy from somebody else.  Many times you are going to find them unconscious, too, to what you’re going through, what you’re feeling, and what you’re experiencing.  Nobody enters in and you’re all by yourself, and you cry.  Sorrow, not as much as His, but it’s sorrow, deep sorrow.  It’s not unusual when you first face an issue.  Jesus did it. “Let it pass; please, not at this time, not her, not him — why?”  All these questions, “Let it pass.”  Everything in you will be screaming out, “Please, I don’t want this to take place.”  It’s very human.

To use His expression, the Holy Spirit’s, and I know it’s not literal, but there are some situations where you are going to be sweating blood.  I know it’s a figure of speech, but I’ll tell you, it’s a powerful figure of speech.  Jesus was so burdened in that first request, He was just sweating blood, “No, no, not this.”  Don’t feel embarrassed, brothers, and don’t feel guilty when your first response is that.  That was His first response.  Don’t feel guilty.  Don’t be afraid to be human.  That’s how He prayed.  That’s how He prays again.

Let me show you the second time He prayed.  His words are similar, but the emphasis is different.  By the way, He prayed three times.  Don’t stop with His first prayer.  He’s going to continue to pray.  Matthew 26:42, “He went away a second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.’”  I think there is still a little bit of, “I don’t want this; if there’s another way…”  But now the emphasis is on “but”, “if it’s Your will, if it pleases You.”  At this point it’s almost acquiescence. It’s almost saying, “I really don’t have a choice.  He’s brought this into my life and I’m stuck with it, and I don’t have a choice.  I’m going to accept it because I really want Your will.  You acknowledge that He knows best, and you’re not rebellious, but there’s still a focus on what’s in the cup, and now it’s divided; it’s both — there’s still your wish there, your desire, but your eyes are not now completely on the cup, but your eyes have turned to the hands that hold the cup and pressing it to your lips.  Don’t stop praying, because Jesus didn’t stop praying.

The third time He prays, Luke 22;42, “He knelt down and began to pray, saying, ‘Father, if You’re willing, remove this cup, yet not My will but Yours be done.’”  Once again, the emphasis changes, and now it’s finally, “Not My will, but Yours be done.”  You’re not only accepting it, and you’re not only acquiescing, you’re not only stuck because there is no other choice, but now you are choosing it.  You are saying, “That’s what I want.  Your will be done.”  All the hesitation is gone, and you’ve recognized everything as being redemptive, and it’s all from Him. You see how the sympathetic High Priest prays in your heart.  First it’s very human, “No, no, I don’t want this,” and you cry and you weep and you sweat drops of blood.  And then it’s, “Okay, I’ll accept it.”  Finally, “I choose it.  I want it.”  That’s how He prayed then, and He lives in your heart to pray that way again.  Don’t be afraid to be human, and to let it out, because that’s your burden.  It’s not your burden; it’s His burden.  It’s how He did it, and it’s how He’s going to do it again in you, and you acquiesce now, without grumbling, you actually choose His will.  You lost at this time the possibility of gaining the certainty of your wish, but you have gained the assurance of His will, and you know that it’s right and it’s best, and you’ve conquered by not conquering.  You’ve conquered by losing, and it is a victory, a great victory.

It was at that moment we read Luke 22:43, “An angel from heaven appeared to Him strengthening Him.”  That’s a marvelous place to put that, after the third prayer.  The angel didn’t come to deliver Him.  The angel came to strengthen Him.  I wonder how much strength He needed to go to the cross.  We read that la, la, la.  You’ll cry out because you are human.  You will acquiesce because you’re Christian, and you will finally submit because your heart wants to please Him.  At that point you are going to receive strength.

Do you know what He did next?  He said, “Arise, let us be going.”  No more tears; let’s face the enemy, no more tears, no more crying, no more calling out, no more sweating drops of blood.  You pray, He prays; you’re human, you acquiesce, you submit, you’re strengthened, and then you go out and face it.  That’s Gethsemane!  Some of you have been through it, and you know exactly what I’m talking about.  This is the way of God.  Matthew 26:46, “Get up, and let’s be going.  Behold, the one who betrays me is at hand.”  Brothers, I pray, I have prayed before the Lord often concerning our gathering, and I just pray that you’ve been helped in some way by our meditation on these things.

I want to read the verse again, Romans 8:26:27, “In the same way the Spirit helps our weakness.  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.”  And now a verse that is not on your sheet, 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 ever.”  Amen.  Thank you, brothers.