“Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you will not fall into temptation.’ He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, ‘Father if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’ An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”
The day before the crucifixion was when Jesus had the last supper with his disciples, gave the warnings of things to come, and then went to pray. The Bible is filled with many prayers, from many different people. But throughout all the ones that I have read, this prayer by Jesus is still one of the most powerful I’ve ever heard.
Jesus is the paradox that was 100% God and 100% man; completely mortal, yet completely divine. Though he had the divinity of God in him, he had self-imposed restrictions of human emotion and physical pain. At this point in his life, he knew that the next day he was going to be flogged and tortured and put on the cross. He knew that the person who would sell him out would be one of the 12 who had been following throughout his ministry. He knew that Peter was going to deny him as he carried the cross, and that all the people who were praising his name one week ago would now be shouting for his death. The few words that were written contain so much power, yet I don’t think it does justice for the agony that Christ was going through at the time.
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” We see the initial cry out to God as his father, as he is seeking the comfort and support that only a father could give. It was the intimate father-son relationship that Christ was clinging to at that moment, the one thing that he needed. Knowing that he would be facing the inevitable in less than 24 hours, he wanted his father. His next cry was for God to “take this cup from me.” Christ’s mortal side was experiencing so much pain both emotionally and physically, that he did not want to go through it. As a man, who would want to put himself through that torture? And as God, he could have easily said the word and the angels would have came down, surrounded him, and taken him back up to heaven. Jesus also said “if you are willing.” Basically seeking his desire to also be the same will as his father in heaven.
His ending prayer is what gets me the most. “Yet not my will, but yours be done.” Jesus first brought his own request and desire and everything his heart was feeling…he was not ashamed or fearful to bring what he had before God in prayer. But when all was said and done, Jesus’ true desire was to have God’s will complete. Basically, if his desire to remove the pain was not God’s will, then he would face whatever he had to. Now there’s a heart of love, a heart chasing after God. It’s a hard that truly has the kingdom in mind.
Jesus sacrificed his life for us, though his mortal flesh did not desire to go through it. It was purely because he loved us and desired for God’s will to be done. So many times I don’t want to push myself to sacrifice even a little bit for God’s kingdom. I’m so selfish. If there’s opposition or pain or anything, I want to just get up and leave. I cry out, “Lord, take it away! I don’t want it!” And I see nothing wrong with that, because there’s no reason to hide my heart from the one who sees into the depths of my soul. But it is clear that I don’t truly desire the heart of God. It’s so difficult for me to pray “not my will but yours be done.” That’s total surrender. That’s accepting that I know nothing, and God knows everything. That’s giving up complete control. And sometimes, I just can’t do it.
But praise God that Jesus was 100% God. He surrendered himself to the ultimate will of God so that we can have eternal life. He chose God’s will over his own fleshly desires. If Christ were anything like me, the world would still be destined for hell. Praise God that Christ is not like me.
But pray that I learn to be more like Christ.
Torn flesh and spilled blood…poured out for the forgiveness of sins…AMEN.