Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." (Matthew 26:36)
Who did Jesus pray to?Jesus goes to pray after his discussion with his disciples.
This statement communicates something very important, contradicting the teachings of many that Jesus is God:
Who would Jesus need to pray to if he were God?
This is difficult for many to answer. They might start fumbling about the "trinity," saying that "Jesus was God, but not the Father God - he was the Son God" or something to that extent.
Then we must ask them again: Who is Jesus praying to? This is clarified with his prayer:
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." (Matthew 26:39)Thus we find among these teachings: In their fervor to claim Jesus is God, they ignore the Father - the very Person Jesus was praying to.
Who is Jesus' 'Father'?The Father is the Supreme Being. The Greek word being translated to "Father" is πατήρ (patēr). This can also be translated to the Creator according to Thayer's lexicon.
Some have envisioned God as an old man with a long grey beard, as portrayed in some paintings. But they often also say that God is a vague impersonal force. An impersonal force that became man in the form of Jesus. How does that happen?
This presents a number of questions:
- If God is an impersonal force, who was Jesus praying to?
- If God is an impersonal force, who would hear Jesus' prayers?
- Can an impersonal force hear prayers and answer them?
- Why should someone pray to an impersonal force?
- Could an impersonal force have a will?
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matt. 7:21)and
"For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother." (Matt. 12:50)How about location? Jesus' two statements above indicate that God, Jesus' Father, is "in heaven." Can a vague impersonal force have a place of domicile?
And how about all the conversations that take place in the Bible between God and His various servants, such as Moses, Joshua, Noah, David and others? Does a vague impersonal force have conversations with people?
And how about love? Jesus, Moses, and the prophets taught that we should love God:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)Can we love a vague impersonal force? Can we even know a vague impersonal force? And how could we love someone if we don't know them?
Is God a Person?These logical questions can only conclude that Jesus was teaching us that the Supreme Being is ultimately a Person. Someone with a will. Someone who can hear our prayers. Someone we can love.
None of Jesus' major teachings can support a hypothesis that the Supreme Being is a vague impersonal force.
The Bible tells us that God has conversations with people. He has a will. He has the ability to exchange love.
It is nonsensical that a vague impersonal force would have conversations, a will, a place of domicile, and the ability to exchange love. These are all characteristics of a person: A person has a will. A person has conversations. A person exchanges love.
Thus we must come to the conclusion that God is a person. A personal being who is not Jesus.
How do we know that God is not Jesus?Because Jesus is praying to Him. Jesus is not a con artist. He was not pretending to be someone he was not.
Jesus was trying to illustrate precisely who he was via his statement here and elsewhere who he really was. And this is illustrated by what Jesus in fact prayed (as observed by Peter, James and John, whom he asked to come with him):
"My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." (Matthew 26:39)With his prayer, Jesus clarifies not only that he was not God - in that he could have a different will from God - but that he is God's loving, devoted servant.
Only a person who is devoted to another will ask that person if they can do what the other person wants them to do (their "will").
This also means that God is a personal God; a Person with a will and a Person we can exchange a loving relationship with.
And God isn't an old man with grey hair and a long beard.
The Supreme Being is not only a Person; He is the most beautiful Person. He is ever-youthful, fun, attractive, playful, caring, compassionate, understanding, honest, steadfast, reliable, funny, gregarious, forthright and loving.
He is everything we want in a best friend, companion, master, mentor and beloved.
He is the Perfect Person we all look for throughout our lives, as we look for that "soul mate."
He is the Perfect Person we all expect our spouses or girlfriends or boyfriends to be but aren't.
He is that Person we know deep inside is "out there for us."
So how do we get re-acquainted with this Supreme Being? This has been detailed by many ancient spiritual teachers, including Jesus. We can reach out to God at any time through prayer, as Jesus is showing us here. We can praise God, in song and recitation.
We can also make offerings to God. Before we eat, we can offer our food to Him - as Jesus did (which was mistranslated as "gave thanks").
We can also ask Him like Jesus is doing with his prayer if we can learn to love Him and serve Him with our lives.