On Maundy Thursday, Jesus prays for a long time. Luke tells us while he was sweating blood in prayer, his disciples were sleeping. He asks God to take the cup from him, but then surrendered to the will of the Father. John’s gospel reveals in detail the prayer of Jesus. Not only did he pray for what was about to happen, but he prayed for the ones sleeping when he asked them to take watch. He prayed for the one who would deny him, the ones who would flee, the ones who would remain, and the ones who were yet to come.
The hour arrived, he was about to be arrested, beaten, tortured, and crucified, and he prayed, and he prayed, and he prayed. He prayed for his disciples. He prayed for me. He prayed for you.
When he finished his prayer the guards arrived to arrest him (because of the tip they received from Judas). John tells it like this:
4 Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, “Whom are you looking for?”5 They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.”Jesus replied, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they stepped back and fell to the ground. 7 Again he asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.” 9 This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken, “I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.” 10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. 11 Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?”
Let’s review. When things get intense and Jesus’ life is threatened what does he do? Jesus prays. What do his followers do? They sleep. They flee. And then there is Peter, who pulls out his sword.
They all react a little different. But Peter’s reaction seems to be the complete opposite of Jesus’.
But you see Peter and Jesus actually have something in common. They are both warriors. And they both use a weapon to fight their battles. Peter is ready to go to battle for Jesus, to fight for him. He just doesn’t understand the most powerful weapon is not a sword. It is the weapon Jesus relied on the most, prayer.
Jesus prays because through it his heart is aligned with the the Father’s perfect will, his purpose is clear, and he is strengthened to fulfill it, to drink from the cup that the Father has give him. He surrenders.
Peter tries to be a warrior, just the wrong kind. Jesus is a warrior, the right kind: a prayer warrior. He battles the enemy with the one tactic that can’t be defeated, surrendering to the will of God in prayer.
I get Peter. I would be tempted to do the same. To defend Jesus. To jump in and fight. To save the day. To rescue the very one who came to rescue us all. I admit I have even done this from time to time (maybe not so much with a literal sword). I have reacted like Peter.
But just like he did for Peter, Jesus steps in. He tells me to put away my sword and surrender to the will of the Father. If Jesus is okay with surrendering to the Father, I guess I am pretty okay with that too.
Song: So here is a song to help you surrender to the Father in prayer.
Community Event: Pray! Pray for your community today. Your co-workers, your neighbors, your friends, your kids’ teachers, the person who rings you up at the grocery store or pumps your gas at Wawa. Where ever you are when you read this take time and pray. Make prayer your weapon of choice today. Maybe there is something the Father wants to remind you, that he can only do when you put down your sword and pick up the the most powerful weapon.