Whatever It Takes?
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.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
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.”
This passage has always fascinated me. Was Jesus trying to find a way out of His mission to make payment for our sins? No. He knew why He was there and He knew what must be done, but it was the prospect of bearing His Father's wrath and separation that troubled Him. It was His human side that agonized over the coming betrayal, beatings, and crucifixion…and rightfully so.
In this moment our Savior teaches us two very important lessons. First, that it's not a sin to experience dread, concern or even fear. Christ agonized over what faced Him and I'm sure most of us can relate to that in some way. The doctor says: it's cancer. You lose your job. A wayward child seems to be slipping away. A mountain of debt is about to overwhelm you. No, you are not a "bad" Christian if you experience agony over your circumstances. It's how you handle them that leads us to the second lesson.
Yielding to God's will, regardless of the pain it may cause us, is the second great lesson from this moment in the garden. The vast majority of God's will is revealed in His Word and so truth be told, if you have studied it much at all, you know the Godly thing to do in most circumstances. The hard part is forcing our rebellious nature to yield to it. It may require us to suffer loss for a while, or change our lifestyle, or set aside a “pet” sin, or endure illness as a way to be a witness for Christ's love and provision. Ultimately, our goal in suffering is to be a good steward of that affliction so as to bring glory to God and provide a great witness to a watching world.
Jesus knew that despite the horror He faced, He could trust in His Father's will completely. We can all learn a lesson from that.