He (Yeshua) offered up prayers and supplications
with great shouting and tears to the One who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His fear of God.
How many people in the world sense that unprecedented Evil is about to come upon the world? Both Christians and un-Believers have a heightened awareness that there is danger and darkness in the offing; and how many of you have heard the warnings and prophecies concerning the month of September? I've heard everything from world-wide economic collapse, to serious natural disasters, and even the beginning of WW III... all guaranteed to strike fear in the hearts of men and women.
But I don't think anything could compare to the anxiety and dread that our Lord must have felt in the Garden of Gethsemane. If I may paraphrase one of my favorite Bible commentators, Matthew Henry, "Jesus had an awful sense of the wrath of God, of the weight of sin. His human nature was ready to sink under that heavy load, and would have sunk, had he been forsaken of help and comfort from God; but he was heard in his prayers, he was supported through the agonies of death."
This understanding, along with the example Jesus gives us on how to approach God in our times of distress and agony of soul, is something that I wish us all to embrace. Yes, we have examples of Jesus praying throughout the gospels, including His rising early in the morning to pray (Mark 1:35), praying all night (Luke 6:12), and praying while fasting 40 days (Matthew 4:2). In fact, the disciples saw how important prayer was to Jesus and asked Him to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1).
But this passage in Hebrews shows us that at this particular time, Jesus's prayer was not casual or routine; it was intense and passionate. Let's look at what is involved in His prayers during this time of apprehension and foreboding. The most common component of many of our prayers is tears, which Jesus also exhibited during His time of intense prayer. Tears are often a sign of pain in our soul. Jesus had a heart full of compassion for His creation and could feel in His heart the sickness, suffering, and coming death of mankind. Our "lostness" pained His heart. Our pain was His pain. He wept for us as He prayed.
Notice also that He prayed with great shouting. Have you ever shouted out loud to God during your most private conversations with Him? Shouting is often a sign of resistance. In times of spiritual warfare -- and believe me, there was a war going on in the spiritual realm as Jesus faced His crucifixion -- we all face the forces of sin and Satan. While shouting and praying, Jesus was fighting in the spiritual realm against the moral darkness of the world. He was opposing evil and overcame it. In His fervent prayer, He was fighting energetically on our behalf.
Lastly, we see that part of His prayer at this time was expressed in His fear of God. This was not normal fear or worry, but the pure fear and reverence of God. And look at the effect of that fear/reverence... He was heard by God; His prayers reached the throne room of His Father. And what were the results? Once again, I will let Matthew Henry express it more eloquently than I can: "He was carried through death; and there is no real deliverance from death but to be carried well through it. We may have many recoveries from sickness, but we are never saved from death till we are carried well through it. And those that are thus saved from death will be fully delivered at last by a glorious resurrection, of which the resurrection of Christ was the earnest (a sign or promise of what was to come) and first-fruits."
I know that most of you are joining me in solemn and dedicated prayer, asking God for mercy and forgiveness in His coming judgment (that we so thoroughly deserve). None of us know what the future holds for us, and I'm sure many of us are consumed with fear over the possibilities. But, let us strive for the same kind of prayer communication that Jesus exhibited on the eve of His most frightening and devastating experience. It's OK to cry out to the Lord and shout to Heaven in our moments of agony, fright, and doubt. But if we approach our Father with godly fear and reverence, He will hear us and will provide the means for us to be carried through whatever awaits us. I can only imagine that this has been the experience of those faithful and obedient followers of Christ in the Middle East who have been beheaded for refusing to disown Him.
Just as Matthew Henry wrote, I am convinced that, like Jesus, they were not forsaken in their moment of need. They were helped and comforted by God, who heard their prayers, and they were supported through their deaths. They followed Christ's example, devoting themselves to Him, denying themselves (and their natural human fears); and taking up their cross, followed Him into death, proclaiming their victory over Evil. Praise the Lord for the standard He has set before us, and for the courage of our Brothers and Sisters who have shown us that God's mercy is sufficient, and enough to see us through death.