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Luke 22:31-46


“Get up and Pray”

I want to start with something funny. I heard this story from an internet site. A minister parked his car in a no-parking zone in a large city because he was short of time and couldn’t find a space with a parking meter. Then he put a note under the windshield wiper that read: “I have circled the block ten times. If I don’t park here, I’ll miss my appointment. Forgive us our trespasses.” When he returned, he found a citation from a police officer along with this note; “I’ve circled this block for ten years. If I don’t give you a ticket, I’ll lose my job. Lead us not into temptation.”

Today is Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday. When we hear or talk about Palm/Passion Sunday, usually, we imagine waving palm branches to celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into the Jerusalem Temple. Rather, we should meditate on the passion of Jesus Christ. But, there are significant symbols on both sides, “Palm and Passion,” as we have both sides of our hands, the palm and back. It is like a symbol of Christ’s life: The glory and death as the Messiah the Savior; He was welcomed and rejected: He was dead and resurrected. Also, “Palm and Passion Sunday” symbolizes Christians who welcome Jesus or betray him. We may accept Jesus as our Savior and try to follow him and his teaching, but we may betray him at certain points in our lives. And later on, we may come back as if we were flipping the palms of our hands. We may welcome and praise the Lord with the palm of our hands or reject him with the back of our hands. If you imagine the gestures of our hands for welcoming or rejecting, it helps to understand what I’m talking about. It might also be a symbol of Christians’ lives where there are times of repeated suffering and joy because of Jesus and keeping faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, we have to pray. Today, I want to talk about “when and how to get up and pray” to avoid temptation.

We know we, Christians, shall always rejoice, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances because it is God’s will in Jesus Christ. We can always rejoice because of the salvation of Jesus, and we can give thanks in all circumstances because of God’s forgiveness and love. However, is it possible that we can always rejoice and give thanks in all circumstances without God’s help? Is it possible to keep in faith in all circumstances without prayer? So, our prayers should be included in God’s will for us in Jesus Christ, so “Pray continually.” “Joy,” “gratitude,” and “prayer” are no doubt the characteristics of Christians. If you don’t have “joy,” “gratitude,” and “prayer” in your lives, you may not be a Christian. As John Wesley said, “prayer is a means of grace,” without prayer, we may not receive God’s grace. In other words, we may not know a “real joyful life of salvation” and “gratitude for the forgiveness of our sins” without the grace of God. In order to know God’s Will in our everyday life and live it out more joyfully and thankfully, we should pray continually. Furthermore, we need to pray to grow in faith closer to Christlikeness and not to come into temptation in every situation. Again, we have to pray that we do not fall into temptation in every case. The Apostle Paul says, “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).

Today’s scripture shows us when and how we should pray. Jesus came into Jerusalem, the final stage of his mission, riding a colt and surrounded by many crowds. And he had the last supper with his disciples. However, nobody knew what would be going on with Jesus. Instead, his disciples expected Jesus would be the king of Jews and the world, and then they argued about who would get the right position and left position of the king Jesus (Luke 22:24). Jesus was concerned about his disciples and prayed for them not to fall into temptation. We may call Peter the best disciple, and Catholic Christians admire him as the greatest saint. However, he also caused Jesus concern and Jesus prayed for him because Peter was in a moment of temptation. Jesus said, “Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Simon Peter confidently said to Jesus, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!” Peter, who spoke to Jesus confidently, denied he didn’t know Jesus three times when Jesus was arrested. As Jesus prophesied, “You will deny three times that you know me before the rooster crows today,” he did deny him. After he denied him three times saying that he didn’t know Jesus, Peter heard the rooster crowd, and he remembered what Jesus said to him. And he went outside and wept bitterly. The Disciple Peter, who has experienced temptation, says, “Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary, the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour” (1 peter 5:8). It is time to get up and pray; pray for you and your family and your brothers and sisters. Be careful of things of evil in the world. Otherwise, they may swallow you and your loved ones.

As you may know, if you are going to be tempted by evil things, you cannot make your brothers and sisters stronger. As Jesus told Peter, “I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” When you turn back to gain stronger, you may help others. When I got sick during my vacation, it delayed me getting back to work. I was so concerned about my tasks and the things I had to do. Meanwhile, many faith family members sent me prayers through texts, emails, and cards. All were enough to encourage me. One thing that touched my heart deeply was a text message saying, “We are all Ok so take care of yourself first. As they say, put on your oxygen mask first so you can save others.” It is true if I feel weak, or going to be dying, how I can help others. First, we pray for ourselves to gain strength, bind with Jesus Christ, and hook others up from the world’s ocean into the boat of life.

Sometimes we have confidence in our faith. However, remember the Apostle Paul’s saying, “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). So, we have to pray now and always whether we have time or not. As we see in verse 39, Jesus came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives to pray. Jesus prayed like his custom, “always” and “continually.” And, he asked his disciples, “Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.” Jesus’ prayers are continued at the Mount of Olives, at the Gethsemane, and even on the cross. He prayed for himself, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup [the death on the cross] from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.” An angel came and gave him strength. Jesus’ prayers in anguish went more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground. While Jesus prayed like the falling sweat droplets of blood, his disciples were sleeping. Jesus said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial.” Jesus may say today, “get up and pray, gain strength first, and help others.” Prayers are a great tool to communicate with God. Jesus said, “whatever you ask in my name, I will do” (John 14:13). Prayer is a great opportunity to ask God to make things happen for us. It is time to pray. Don’t miss this great opportunity. Thanks be to God. Amen!