“If we are tempted to minimize the recoil on the part of Christ in this, we actually rob ourselves of the opportunity to legitimize our own experiences of being overwhelmed. Our own experiences of being engulfed. Our own experiences of being greatly and deeply distressed.”

Alistair Begg

Daily Devotionals: Ascent’s Mission – Loving God, Loving People and Impacting Our World. Each day’s devotional has guided us through a scriptural thought based on the mission God has called us to follow. 

There is no greater impact in all of human history than what Christ did for us on the cross and in His resurrection.

Today is Thursday of Holy Week – the day our Savior prepared and celebrated the Passover meal with His disciples. It was on this evening that He washed His disciples’ feet, celebrated with them the Last Supper, and prayed His famous “High Priestly Prayer.” Following this very eventful evening, He  went with His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray before He was betrayed and arrested and led to the cross in just a few short hours. We look in this devotional at those words He prayed to His Father just before His arrest.


Engage the Word: Impacting Our World

Read Matthew 26:39, 42

39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” 

42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”

Connect the Heart

Some question this prayer and ask – “Doesn’t this show hesitancy to do the Father’s will and a reluctance to obey the Father?” We aren’t holy. We cannot relate – we can’t even fathom – what Jesus was going through, or what He was about to endure. The thought of bearing sin and guilt and judgment. We don’t have a perfect hatred for sin – He did. He is too pure to look on things that are sinful. No wonder he came to the point of death.

Pastor and author Allistair Begg described the emotional pain Jesus was suffering as “An anguish from which there was no escaping, and in which he found no opportunity for comfort.”

One other commentator called it “the anticipation of experiencing the Father’s will and embracing the role of becoming a sacrifice for sin. To become the sin bearer.” He is facing something completely alien to Himself. He has never known sin. He has never known alienation or separation.

 Luke 22:44 says “His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” The clinical name for this condition is hematohidrosis. Under immense stress, the capillaries gorge, inflate – and explode, and the blood comes out the sweat glands. This is distress. This is stress. The greatest distress that any human has ever experienced…We have a Savior who is fully man – and fully God. He understands. He sees. He knows. He experienced the greatest of all distresses – and he sees yours. This should give us a sense of tremendous encouragement – especially when we are distressed and overwhelmed.

Reflect on the Truth

  1. Jesus’ prayer reflects his anticipation of becoming sin on our behalf and being abandoned by His Father who cannot look upon sin. In just a few short hours, Jesus was going to carry His cross to Golgotha to die for the sins of the world and make the ultimate sacrifice. Is your heart – your words, your actions, your desires, your motivations – in a posture to reflect on this act of love and sacrifice? How might Jesus’ example of selfless love be an invitation for you to experience a deeper intimacy with your Savior?
  2. Jesus can relate to distress. Is there something in your life that feels like distress that you can bring to Him in this moment? He sees. He knows. He can relate.

Depend on the Spirit

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see the deeper longings, desires or motives in your heart that these thoughts are pointing to. (For example: you may write down, “Father, I can’t even begin to fathom the anticipation of immense suffering and distress Jesus was sensing in this prayer. But I trust that because of this, He can empathize with anything I could ever go through.”) The Lord can help us discern the path forward – through His word, His Spirit, His people.


For Prayer
As you conclude your devotional time, pray for those in our family of faith who are experiencing suffering and distress on various levels. There are so many. Pray specifically for Ralph Nussbaum, going through paracentesis at home; Diana Dunston, beginning chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer; Stan Neher, experiencing congestive heart failure. Jesus sees. He knows. He can relate.

Please read the first blog post entitled “Why Fast?” This explains what fasting is and why we follow Jesus in this spiritual discipline as, together, we seek the heart of God.


Some parts of our 21 Days devotionals are adapted using various resources on scripture and prayer like The Bible Exposition Commentary, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, The New Bible Commentary, Logos Bible Software and other resources.