Read Luke 22:39-44
39 Then, accompanied by the disciples, Jesus left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives. 40 There he told them, “Pray that you will not give in to temptation.”
41 He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” 43 Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. 44 He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood. (NLT)
It seems that in our journey of following Jesus we cannot avoid Gethsemane-type experiences. Not that we can ever imagine or approach the precise experience of Jesus on the Mount of Olives prior to Good Friday. His was a unique situation, a unique choice.
However we will enter our own shadows and seasons of darkness, face our own hard choices, seek to escape a difficult outcome while yet acknowledging God might have different ideas. Jesus’ Gethsemane prayer is a model for us. Pray boldly to God that we might escape pain and loss. Humbly accept that at times this might be what is in store for us.
And let’s note what is often overlooked in this familiar narrative. It is no surprise that Jesus was strengthened and upheld as he prayed. But what is this about an angel being God’s instrument? Was it a winged creature? Was it Luke describing in metaphorical terms the sort of divine help Jesus received?
We really don’t know a lot about angels. But it seems they are sent to strengthen and protect us. If that is the case, why may we not pray more often for angelic help? Have we marginalised or even dismissed such angels? In our own pain, which is a distant reflection of Jesus’ Gethsemane pain, may we not also experience angels?