As the Savior Jesus Christ approached the last few hours of His mortal life, He left the upper room where He had just taken His final meal with His twelve apostles. Passing through the gates of Jerusalem, He made His way to a garden at Gethsemane, just east of the city and not far from the temple. Leaving His disciples, He then went off by Himself. (See Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, John 18; LDS online version of New Testament.)
In a way that neither I nor anyone else understands, Jesus began to work out an Atonement there in that garden, which Atonement He later completed with His death on the cross at Calvary. It was the most important event in the history of the world.
We often picture, talk about and imagine the Savior leaving Peter, James and John and then going off to experience the pain of the world’s sins alone. That isn’t quite accurate. Two key events occurred in quick succession. From my perspective as an addict working on my own recovery, recognizing these two events has changed my life.
First, it appears from the Gospels that Christ prayed immediately at the outset of His suffering (Luke 22:41). He didn’t wait until things got really bad before He called out to His Father. And the words of His prayer have inspired His disciples throughout the centuries since: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless, not my will but thine be done” (Luke 22:42). In my opinion, these eighteen words constitute the greatest prayer ever offered.
I have often said that the most difficult words for an addict to utter are, “Not my will but thine be done.” In my experience as an addict, I have always wanted to deal with the problem of my addiction on my own, in secrecy and isolation–on my own terms. If the Savior–the most important Individual ever to draw breath in this earth’s atmosphere–was willing to submit His will to His Father’s at His most painful moments, can I learn anything from Him?
Second, following that short prayer, “there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him” (Luke 22:43). Isn’t that interesting? When Jesus struggled under the burden that had been ours and then became His, Heavenly Father sent someone to help Him out. Somehow, I just don’t think Jesus told the angel that He was fine and would handle this on His own. The angel strengthened the Savior of the world.
Recently I mentioned in a post one of Elder Holland’s conference addresses in which he talked about heavenly and earthly angels. Some angels come from the presence of God and some are the people around us. That leads me to my final questions: In trying to overcome my addiction, am I willing to be humble and allow myself to be strengthened and inspired by the earthly angels that Heavenly Father sends to help me? Or will I insist on doing things on my own?
Jesus didn’t (See D&C 122:8).
Image credit: Painting by Danish artist Carl Heinrich Bloch, in the public domain.