"And he went a little further and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." - Matt. 26:39
Self-defense (self-justification) is a natural response of the flesh when under attack, whether the charges are valid or not.
It wasn't easy for the humanity side of Jesus to face (endure) what was about to happen next as He prayed alone in the Garden of Gethsemane. I imagine He thought of His followers being scattered in fear at His refusal to use His deity to deliver Himself from arrest. It must have looked like He was unable to escape the vengeful power of the Sanhedrin. It had to have been agonizing to foresee the turmoil that would grip the heart and mind of those who believed in Him, and saw Him day after day deliver and set free others, but appear to be unable to help Himself.
Even though Jesus knew the end results of His arrest, trial, and crucifixion would be victorious, how could He not defend Himself, to reassure those who had put their trust in Him and supported His ministry?
Can you imagine the humiliation He knew He would suffer hanging between two thieves as a common criminal before those he had sought to win to the Kingdom of God? All of His sermons on the mount were on trial in which He taught of God's care and protection for those who would obey and keep His commandments. Where was God now that His so called Son was being murdered at the hands of the Roman Empire and the religious leaders? "He saved others but can't save Himself!" "Why don't you save yourself and us too!" shouted one of the thieves on the cross.
The adversary, Satan, was using every means possible as he did in the wilderness to keep Jesus from completing His mission. "If thou be the Son of God turn these stones into bread." "If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone." Defend yourself Jesus! If you're really the Son of God come down off that cross and show me who you really are! Satan wasn't successful in his tempting of Christ in the wilderness, but just maybe, Satan thought, he would be successful in manipulating Jesus' love and concern for people to prove His deity and not go to Calvary. As God, Jesus knew the tactics of Satan, and as man He sought strength through prayer not to be a victim to temptation.
AS LEADERS IN THE MAKING, we need to apply the command Jesus gave His disciples that night in the garden, "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:41). The spirit man's desire is to do the will of the Father; the flesh man's desire is to cater to the will of our emotions. During Jesus' arrest in the garden, Peter succumbed to the desire of the flesh when he cut off the servant's ear.
Throughtout our ministry Satan will tempt us to act on our fleshly emotions to thwart God's plan. But if we follow Jesus' command in the garden, and the example He left us throughout His ministry on earth to "watch and pray," and to keep in mind that the spirit man is willing, but the natural man is weak, we will avoid falling into temptation.
Anna M. Caison, third (eldest daughter) of eleven children, born in Chicago, Illinois. She is an ordain minister, Preschool Teacher and freelance writer for adults and children.
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