God’s Word for You
Luke 22:39-40 Lead us not into temptation
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, April 4, 2019
39 He left and went out, as he usually did, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. 40 When he reached the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not fall into temptation.”
He went out “as he usually did,” according to custom. This tells us that Jesus had every opportunity to avoid Judas, but he didn’t choose to. He could easily have gone over to Bethany, or Bethphage, or down to nearby Bethlehem (an hour’s walk to the south), or even to someplace on the western side of Jerusalem, and there would never have been enough time on that night for Judas to have found him. Instead, he went where he always went, and Judas didn’t need to consider for one minute where the Lord might be hiding. Our God does not hide himself, but he invites us to hide ourselves in him (Psalm 143:9; also verse 1 of “Rock of Ages”).
The Mount of Olives overlooks Jerusalem from the east (Zechariah 14:4). In Jesus’ day there was a path running across the valley between, the Kidron Valley (John 18:1), the path King David had taken when he fled from the city, persecuted by his own son, his advisors and courtiers (2 Samuel 15:23). Now the Lord Jesus, persecuted and hunted by his friend and disciple and the people he came to save, left the city by the same route.
It isn’t necessary for us to try to imagine what the Mount or the Garden looked two thousand years ago. The Apostles, especially Peter, James, and John, would never have mistaken the places where the Lord’s feet carried him to be holy places, especially in view of the fact that the locations of the cross, tomb, and place of his ascension are not exactly known. It is what Jesus really did that counts, not the real estate upon which he did it.
He told the Eleven disciples to pray “that you may not fall into temptation.” This was where they had spent most of their evenings during this week, and they were bound to give in to sleep; it was what they usually came here to do. But he commanded them this time to pray.
Our prayer, “Lead us not into temptation,” is not only about general temptations—not to covet, lust, lie, cheat, or other sins—but also not to be led astray into false beliefs. It is a request that God would guide us with correct preaching and teaching in the church, so that we would understand God’s word correctly and that we would follow God’s will joyfully and thankfully. For the Eleven in Gethsemane, it also meant that they would not be tempted to give in to fear, abandoning their Master when he needed their support in his hour of his most difficult trial.
Luther said: “God surely tempts no one to sin, but we pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us, so that the devil, the world, and our flesh may not deceive us or lead us into false belief, despair, and other great and shameful sins; and though we are tempted by them, we pray that we may overcome and win the victory.”
Pastor Timothy Smith