Adult Sunday School Study Guide

May 2, 2021 Adult Bible Study

PDF version of May 2, 2021 Sunday School Lesson

This week’s lesson:    WILLING—Jesus willingly submitted to the Father’s redemptive plan.

First Thoughts:  After observing the Passover meal and instituting the Lord’s Supper, Jesus spoke with the disciples at length and prayed for them (John 14-17). He led the group from the upper room and away from the city. They crossed the Kidron Valley and returned to the Mount of Olives, where Jesus spent several evenings during this week. The garden of Gethsemane was a special place where Jesus and the disciples often resorted for prayer (Mark 14:32). Jesus wanted to be alone while He prayed. Leaving the disciples to watch, He went a bit further to pray.

Lesson Part 1:   IN PRAYER  [read Luke 22:41-46]

41 Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and began to pray, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me—nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 Then an angel from heaven appeared to him, strengthening him. 44 Being in anguish, he prayed more fervently, and his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground. 45 When he got up from prayer and came to the disciples, he found them sleeping, exhausted from their grief. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray, so that you won’t fall into temptation.”

Gethsemane was a walled garden where Jesus often went to pray and to meet with His disciples. Eight of the disciples sat in one place while Jesus took Peter, James, and John farther into the garden (Mark 14:33-35). Jesus told the disciples to pray as He went a short distance away and prayed. Jesus withdrew from them about a stone’s throw. The intensity of this moment required an element of solitude, but Jesus also wanted to be close to these men. They had been with Him through an amazing three years, and here, hours before the cross, Jesus desired their presence. He knelt down—taking a position of submission before the Father. Jesus began to pray to the Father. Although He and the Father are co-equal, co-existent, and co-eternal. In His humanity, Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient in every way (Philippians 2:8).

Jesus didn’t begin with His request, but with submission: if you are willing. This phrase does not mean Jesus didn’t already know the Father’s will. Jesus and the Father were in constant communication. Jesus embraced the Father’s will even before He offered His request. Jesus’ prayer that the Father take this cup away involved the suffering that lay before Him. The cup represented His taking on the sins of the world and dying for them. Scripture uses two theological terms to describe this act: Propitiation and Atonement. Propitiation occurs when God’s righteousness is satisfied (1 John 2:2). Atonement refers to our reconciliation to God through the blood of Christ (Romans 5:11). Both words portray how and why Jesus absorbed the wrath of God for our sin. Jesus submitted to the Father’s will. The word nevertheless shows He offered His request while at the same time embracing the Father’s plan. We should not misunderstand the phrase not my will, but yours, be done. Jesus’ humanity was allowed complete expression in transparent, honest prayer. His final statement declared His acceptance of the Father’s will.

Jesus prayed so intensely that He became exhausted. As He prayed, an angel form heaven appeared to him, strengthening him. This was not the first time an angel supported Him during difficult circumstances. After Jesus’ temptation by Satan following forty days of fasting, He was strengthened by angels (Matthew 4:11). It’s difficult to imagine Jesus being in anguish. The term anguish translates a word from which we get “agony”. Jesus prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground. Some writers have tried to explain this phenomenon medically arguing that under intense stress the capillaries in the brow could burst and mingle with the sweat. Luke didn’t say that Jesus actually sweated blood but that His sweat was like drops of blood as it fell from His head. 

Luke focused primarily on Jesus’ interactions wit the Father and with His sleeping disciples. Other Gospel accounts include three seasons of prayer. Jesus was willing to accept the father’s answer to His prayers. The phrase when he got up from prayer suggests more than merely rising from His kneeling position. It conveys the idea of finality. He has no more reason to wrestle in prayer. He had the Father’s answer and embraced it. Jesus came to the disciples. Walking to where He had left them, Jesus found them sleeping. He had urged them to remain watchful but their bodies betrayed them. Jesus observed that their spirits were willing but their flesh was weak (Mark 14:38). They were exhausted from their grief. This refers to a mental and emotional state of distress. They had heard Jesus speak of His impending suffering and their hearts were troubled (John 14:1).

Waking the disciples, Jesus asked, “Why are you sleeping?”. They must have still been lying on the ground since he told them to get up and pray. Jesus told them to pray for themselves—that they would not fall into temptation. Often, we only think of temptation in terms of desires. In this instance, their temptation came upon the arrival of the force sent to arrest Jesus. Believers should willingly submit to God’s plans. We demonstrate our trust in Him by embracing His will in everything. 

Take a moment to consider:  What causes you to struggle with God’s will? What aspects of God’s character encourage you to trust and obey Him?    

Lesson Part 2:  IN BETRAYAL  [read Luke 22:47-50]

47 While he was still speaking, suddenly a mob came, and one of the Twelve named Judas was leading them. He came near Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” 49 When those around him saw what was going to happen, they asked, “Lord, should we strike with the sword?” 50 Then one of them struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear.

Jesus was still speaking when a mob came. The group included chief priests and elders, along with temple guards since the Romans had not become involved yet. The mob appeared suddenly. They must have been trying to catch Jesus unaware (not understanding that He knew exactly what was about to happen). With the mob was Judas. Luke specifically identified him as one of the Twelve. He was chosen to be part of Jesus’ apostles. Jesus had invested him with authority not only over the group’s small funds but with the gospel message. Judas shared the remarkable experience of preaching the good news and healing the sick (Luke 9:1-6). In spite of his privileged role, Judas had conspired with the chief priests to betray Jesus into their hands. Judas was leading the mob who knew Jesus would be isolated in the garden and could be taken with a minimum of difficulty. Of course, it was God who orchestrated everything as part of His redemption plan.

As Jesus and the disciples watched the group approach, Judas came near Jesus to kiss him. In this culture, friends typically greeted one another with a kiss on one or both cheeks. Judas’ action not only identified Jesus to the soldiers who were there to arrest Him, but also fulfilled the prophecy that the Messiah would be betrayed by a friend (Zechariah 13:6-8). Jesus knew exactly what was happening. He confronted Judas not only for the fact that he was betraying the Son of Man but that he was doing so with a kiss. Jesus employed the title Son of Man to emphasize that Judas was not just betraying someone who had befriended him. Judas was being disloyal to the Messiah, the promised and Anointed One.

The phrase those around him refer to the eleven disciples who had accompanied Jesus to the garden. They saw what was going to happen. They understood Jesus was in danger. Not knowing what to do, they asked Jesus if they should strike with the sword. The disciples who brought swords to the garden didn’t understand Jesus’ purposes. Their response was fleshly because they had not spent the evening in prayer. They failed in this hour of temptation. Jesus willingly submitted Himself to the Father, but the disciples were initially ready to fight. Luke didn’t specify which one of them struck the high priest’s servant, but John’s Gospel reveals Peter as the assailant. Peter had earlier declared he would defend Jesus and even go to prison with Him (Luke 22:33). Peter didn’t wait to hear Jesus respond to the question and he cut off the man’s right ear. Believers don’t have to adopt the world’s pattern of response to challenges, nor should we crouch in fear of the future. God will strengthen us even when we encounter severe persecution for His sake. The Lord will reveal how we should respond (Mark 13:11).

Take a moment to consider: What would have been your reaction if you had been present when Jesus was betrayed? How does Jesus’ example guide us when we feel betrayed?

Lesson Part 3:   IN ACTION  [read Luke 22:51-53]

51 But Jesus responded, “No more of this!” And touching his ear, he healed him. 52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, temple police, and the elders who had come for him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs as if I were a criminal? 53 Every day while I was with you in the temple, you never laid a hand on me. But this is your hour —and the dominion of darkness.”

Peter’s use of the sword normally would have led to his arrest, if not worse. Jesus stepped in and stopped escalating reactions with a word and an act. “No more of this!” These words probably would not have stopped the authorities from retaliating against Peter and others. The servant was in pain as blood flowed form his wound. Jesus acted—stepped forward and touching his ear, he healed him. This dramatic miracle halted further action as everyone would have been amazed.

Jesus’ confrontation of these leaders revealed their cowardice. Why had they come out with swords and clubs? While Peter’s us of a weapon may have momentarily justified their action, they arrived fully armed as if to put down an insurrection. Jesus pointed out that their methods suggested that He was some sort of criminal. Jesus reminded them that they had plenty of opportunities to arrest Him. Every day He had been with them in the temple. They never laid a hand on Him in public. His statement impeached their honor and convicted them of cowardice.

At this point, Jesus yielded Himself into their hands. If He had not been wiling to accept the father’s purpose, no force on earth could have compelled Him to the cross. Twelve legions (over 60,000) angels were poised at the edge of heaven to set Him free (Matthew 26:53). The statement “this is your hour” referred to the appointed time when the forces of evil appeared to prevail. Jesus’ comment about the dominion of darkness made it clear that He understood who was behind this atrocity. Satan had plotted against Him from the beginning. By all appearances, the devil was asserting his dominion yet was only deceiving himself. Satan had no authority of Christ. Nothing would happen here except by the will of God the Father. We may think that the enemy is winning at times. We must accept God’s purpose knowing He loves us and will work all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

Take a moment to consider:  What difficult action has God called you to undertake that would be impossible without Him? How do you demonstrate willingness to embrace God’s will?

Reflect on times you’ve felt alone or faced challenges. Listen to “Have Faith in God” performed by First Baptist Church of Gray Gables

Blessings,

Elder Steve