Jesus Christ, in His life on earth, was faced with the same challenges that we face on a daily basis, including having to deal with temptation (Matthew 4:1-11). After the encounter with Satan, note that Jesus was victorious because He remained in God’s will. He still needed to be tended to by angels because of His weakened state. From this encounter, it is easy to conclude that He struggled with temptation in the same way that we do, because He was in the flesh, in the same way we are. No wonder He can truly relate to us!
Being obedient to Christ will always be a struggle. In order to improve our chances for success in overcoming temptation and avoiding sin, we need to learn to retreat to a quiet place (not a busy place or where there is a disturbance). Jesus found His quiet place at Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36). His disciples were familiar with the place, and they also spent time there often. How often do you spend your time quietly with God? The quiet time (without any distractions or television playing in the background) is a valuable time to meet God, allow Him to meet you where you are, and sort through your thoughts while allowing God to quietly speak to you.
There will be some situations or circumstances where we have to fight battles and make some decisions outside of the support of our closest friends and relatives, and even from our brethren in Christ. There are times when we must face our struggles alone. “Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He (Jesus) began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is swallowed up in sorrow–to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with Me.’ (Matthew 26:37-38).” He goes along a little further and met the Lord in prayer where He was. “Going a little farther, He fell facedown and prayed, ‘My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will’ (Matthew 26:39).” alone. When we make decisions or choices, they will likely effect others. In moments such as this, we are left with our own struggles while our loved ones remain at a distance. The struggle is yours, the weight of the struggle is yours, and the burden is yours. Jesus was able to share his sorrow with His closest disciples, but His most personal thoughts are shared only with the Father. As far as His prayer, He didn’t ask the disciples to pray with Him. The prayer to the Father was only for His Father in that they would not comprehend or know how to respond to His level of grief (
Matthew 26:39; Mark 14:35-36). He did share with them that He was deeply distressed and troubled and that His soul was overwhelmed. Jesus was preparing for the moment when He was dealing with taking on all of the sins of the world upon Himself, yet He had no sin within Him. “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness: by His wounding you have been healed (1 Peter 2:24).” Jesus was still fully human in His prayer to the Father that He have the burden removed (Matthew 26:39, 42, 44). Jesus also knew that He had reached His appointed time when He had to go to the cross (Matthew 26:18). Jesus knew that He would have to suffer according to God’s will (Isaiah 53:10; 1 Peter 1:19-20). Why, one might ask, did Jesus pray for the cup to pass, knowing full well that this was the plan for man’s salvation all along? Consider that, when the plan was made, Jesus was not in the flesh. Since He was now in the flesh, he had to deal with temptation and struggles, just as we do. That is why, in the flesh, we have constant struggles with doing the will of the Father. The moment we discover that it is not the flesh that helps us to carry out God’s will (Mark 14:38; Matthew 26:40-41), but it is our obedience to the Father where God enables us with strength to carry out His will. At that moment, you know you are in a battle with Satan (Galatians 5:16-18). Don’t think for a moment that, when things become difficult, that the flesh will allow you to stand firm (Matthew 26:31-35; 69-74). Satan’s goal is to render you, as a believer in Jesus Christ, useless within the body of Christ. God wants you to be submissive to Him and to His will, and He strengthens and enables you to endure the hardships that you face in order to remain in obedience to His will. He also gives you the strength to conquer your own personal fears. He gives us the ability to overcome difficulty, at times even without the support and encouragement of your friends. Our responsibility is to remain in prayer in order to avoid temptation, as we desire to remain in His will (Matthew 6:9-13).
Jesus shared how His own struggles reveal how we, as believers, are vulnerable to struggles in the flesh. He also shows us how we can conquer these struggles with our obedience to the will of God. No one else can make this decision for you…it must be made on your own accord. The rewards are evident in that God will never leave you nor forsake you (Joshua 1:5; Hebrews 13:5).