So far in our “Faith Over Fear” series, we’ve seen two examples of people who were called by God and who had to choose whether they would respond with faith or fear. While both Abraham and Moses eventually acted on the faith and followed God’s call, both men, at some point, chose their fear over their faith. They obeyed but imperfectly. On this Good Friday, we are going to look to the perfect example of our Savior of how to choose faith over fear.
“Then, accompanied by the disciples, Jesus left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives. There he told them, ‘Pray that you will not give in to temptation.’” (Luke 22:39-40)
After the Last Supper in the upper room, Jesus and His disciples had gone out to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus knew what was coming in mere moments—He had even told the disciples about it at dinner. Jesus was about to be betrayed into the hands of the Romans where He would be unjustly tried for a false crime and put to death on a criminal’s cross. All four gospels describe the time in the garden after the dinner, but only Luke the Physician gives us an interesting medical detail.
“He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.” (Luke 22:44)
This phenomenon is known as hematohidrosis which is brought on by enormous amounts of stress. Leonardo Da Vinci once wrote of a soldier experiencing this same phenomenon and it has been noted in several medical studies as well. Jesus was so anxious, stressed, and fearful, that His body began to sweat blood. He knew the agony and torture that awaited Him, but He also knew why He was to endure it. Jesus had a choice: faith or fear?
“He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.’” (Luke 22:41-42)
We read of no protest. We do not read about Jesus trying it His own way. Jesus makes it clear that He wants God’s will over His own. We only read a simple request: if you are willing. Contrast Jesus’ response with those of Abraham or Moses. Abraham tried it his own way by going to Egypt when there was famine in the land. Moses tried four times to argue against what God was asking him to do, coming up with excuse after excuse. Jesus simply asks if there is another way but makes it clear that He desires God’s will over His own. That’s the key. If we want to grow in choosing our faith over our fear, then we need to follow Jesus’ example in putting God’s will ahead of His own. When we desire what God wants over what we want, then we will be able to choose our faith over our fear.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.