And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him.
When He arrived at the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying,”Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”Luke 22:39-42
I left you in the last Gem with the question: “What place is referred to in the clause, “He arrived at the place.”? Is Luke’s use of the word “place” a reference to Gethsemane, which he did not mention in his account, or is it a reference to something else? Notice the fit of these two verses together.
:39 And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him. :40 When He arrived at the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
It seems likely that, “as His custom” is connected with movement back and forward to the Mount of Olives rather than the place of His prayer. Or is it the place where He went to have his Quiet Time each day on the mountain? It seems from the construction of the sentence that there was a regular daily movement by Jesus to and from the Mount of Olives. This accords with what we find in Luke 21:37-38 —”Every day Jesus went to the Temple to teach, and each evening He returned to spend the night on the Mount of Olives. The crowds gathered at the Temple early each morning to hear Him.” It appears therefore, that there was a regular place Jesus went to on the Mount of Olives, separate from where He slept on the Mount of Olives. There is no indication that it was an established lodging house. It may well have been that Jesus slept with the men outside in the open. Clearly He retires to this place each day after ministering to the crowds at the Temple. There is the reference of the time He went to Bethany which I addressed in Bible Gems 80 – 82. But apart from the time out in Bethany, Jesus habit was to overnight on the Mount of Olives. That is interesting because it is likely the reason why Judas was able to find Him so easily and lead the temple guard to Him. Judas knew because this was Jesus habit.
As you can see from the above passage selected for today, it is almost exclusively Luke’s material except for the odd word here or there. Luke is the only one who refers to this being Jesus habitual practice and he is the only one who makes specific reference to the place. Wherever Jesus “camped” on the Mount of Olives, whether in permanent lodgings or out in the open, there seems to have a been a distance between there and where He prayed. Jesus habitually took time out alone to spend time in prayer with Father God. If it is good enough for Jesus it is good enough for us. That is a healthy spiritual habit to develop. Go to the same place each day. There is something about going which ultimately makes it special. It is also possible that after continually going to the one place that something happens to set that place apart. I am not saying that it becomes holy but it does become special as a result of constantly meeting God there. Places become holy because God is there, not because of the place per se. We will see this fact as we examine the Book of Acts after Luke. It is somewhat reminiscent of the Tent of Meeting where Moses met God. That place was made holy, not because there was anything special about where the Tent of Meeting was set up but because God’s presence inhabited it.
As I mentioned in an earlier Gem, Mark and Matthew make it clear that there was distance between Jesus and the disciples, by referring to the fact that the disciples were divided into two groups: the bulk of the disciples and the three – Peter, James and John.
Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone.Matt 17:1
He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and He became anguished and distressed.Matt 26:37
Then Jesus stopped the crowd and wouldn’t let anyone go with Him except Peter, James, and John (the brother of James).Mark 5:37
Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed,Mark 9:2
Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives across the valley from the Temple. Peter, James, John, and Andrew came to Him privately and asked Him,Mark 13:3
He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He became deeply troubled and distressed.Mark 14:33
When they arrived at the house, Jesus wouldn’t let anyone go in with Him except Peter, John, James, and the little girl’s father and mother.Luke 8:51
About eight days later Jesus took Peter, John, and James up on a mountain to pray.Luke 9:28
Now, why would Jesus divide the disciples off from one another? This is the same as what happened with Moses and Joshua. It seems that whenever someone is training to pick up the succession of leadership, they are brought into an inner circle to learn deeper lessons. When Joshua was allowed to be at the Tent of the Meeting he would linger in the after glow of the Presence, after the Lord had gone. He would soak up the atmosphere. (Ex 33:11) Moses took Joshua through this same process on Mount Sinai. It is clear that these three men were allowed close to the action enough for them to hear what was spoken of in prayer. That is the quickest way to introduce someone to the finer arts of praying: by letting them hear you demonstrate how to pray. Don’t tell me the theory of praying, practice praying so I can see prayer in action. It was the result of the disciples seeing and hearing Jesus praying in Luke 11 that prompted them to ask Him to teach them to pray. There was something about the way He prayed which made them ask, “Lord, teach us to pray like THAT.”
Some people are so private in their praying they are hesitant to pray in front of other people. I have known many people like that over the years. I have known others who were supposedly pastors or ministers in churches but used only their prayer book. On occasions they were caught out when asked to pray impromptu in front of the church. They just could not do it. That speaks volumes about their private prayer life. Prayer is not hard. It is not a matter of praying the right words and making the prayers sound eloquent and polished. It is a matter of praying with the right heart. That is what God is looking for — men and women after His own heart. So spend your private time in prayer getting used to conversing with your God so that later on you can lead others in the how to’s of praying. Notice that I used the word “conversing”. Prayer is two-way. You talking to God and Him talking to you. Many of us only talk to God but don’t hear Him say anything. That is a whole other side of the coin, another topic entirely: hearing His voice and knowing His will.
There is also a difference and a balance between being separated, set apart for prayer in a special place and then being able to prayer anywhere. I have had people tell me after I have prayed for them in the middle of a crowd, that they were shocked that I did that and yet the prayer was so personal and the sense of connection with God was so real. Isn’t that what it is all about? Being natural with our communication between us and our Heavenly Father. He wants your communication to be so natural with Him and for your ears to be tuned to His voice. His sheep hear His voice. To develop the ‘anywhere’ level of prayer and ‘with anyone’ you have to have spent the time in the private Quiet Place first.
So delineate your place and get started. It can be anywhere, like Jesus, even out in the open on the Mount of Olives.
If we haven’t learned to be worshippers it doesn’t really matter how well we do anything else.Erwin Lutzer
Get yourself right before you lead others into the same mistakes.
Life is not measured by the breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away.Anon
Underdeveloped listening skills are usually representative of overinflated egos.Anon
I am not young enough to know everything.Oscar Wilde