2002-02-28 - Not My Will
The Cross Series, Part 18
Luke 22:40-42 And when He arrived at the place, He said to them, "Pray that you may not enter into temptation." 41 And He withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, 42 saying, "Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done." (NAS)
What was in this cup that Jesus dreaded so much that He pleads with the Father as the plan unfolds? Matthew records for us that Jesus made His impassioned request three times. More than one person has told me that the text indicates that Jesus was shouting. The disciples would have heard this easily, even at a distance. How unnerving it must have been to hear their Lord in such obvious distress. This One who calmed the sea, cast out demons and raised the dead, all with just a spoken word, now pleads with His Father.
Jesus was indeed God in human flesh. In a few verses we will hear Jesus warn His captors that He could call twelve legions of angels to set Him free. I have no doubt that they were poised to strike at the first syllable from Jesus or the Father. To their astonishment, the word never came.
Jesus has already humbled Himself once at His birth. The King of Glory, Who could clothe Himself in pure energy and light, wrapped human flesh and bone around Himself. Jesus entered this world cold and naked, just like you and me. He had submitted His mighty will to the Father for the sake of fallen mankind. One by one, The Lord has mentally checked off one prophecy after another that had to be fulfilled. Again, submitting to the plan.
Now, one last time, He must submit to complete the plan to redeem fallen mankind. The cross was the way home for the Messiah. There would be the physical suffering; beard ripped out, beaten, brutally whipped 39 times, blindfolded and punched, mocked, stripped naked of His garments, a crown of thorns driven into His scalp and the railroad spikes driven through His body. There would be the agony of bearing the sins of all mankind - past, present and future. To become sin for Him who knew no sin. He would have to submit to that too. These would be horrific to behold if their true terror could be visually manifest. Murder, envy, anger, jealousy, pride. Were these the dregs of the cup that Jesus wanted to pass by Him?
There was also that moment in time when the Father, who is Holy, would have to turn His back on His own Son, who had become sin. God will not sit in the presence of sin and Jesus had taken on our sins. The Father would have to turned from him, literally turn His back to Him. The Father and The Son had been in a perfect state of fellowship for millennium of time and into eternity past. This might be what Jesus dreaded the most.
Yet, even in the face of this Jesus humbled Himself The plan that had been agreed on in ages past (Rev 13:8) was unfurling before their eyes. If blood had not been required, if it could have been done with a word, Jesus was asking for that way. In uttering the phrase, "...not My will..." Jesus is giving the Father Carte Blanche. He deliberately set aside His own will for us. He gave up His right to call those angels, to leap down from the cross and destroy Roman and the Pharisees, to simply return to Heaven as the hammer drove the spike into the wood as the hand simply disappeared from under it.
There are times when we will set aside our will for the good of another. There are times when, at great need, men and women will suffer hardship for the benefit of another. But Jesus laid aside His divine authority in the face of abuse and torment that we can only begin to see, for you - and me.
Heb 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (NAS)
Our Master permitted Himself to be attacked by the very forces of darkness. The enemy himself must have railed on Jesus. He would have known that this was the telling moment of history. In that three hours of darkness, all the stops would be pulled out unleashing an untold fury, raw hatred and desperation. Paul tells us why He laid aside His will. It was "for the joy set before Him" that Jesus did it. The joy Jesus saw before Him was us. As David Meece wrote, "We were the reason that He suffered, and died..." By submitting to the Father in obedience, we have fellowship and relationship again with God.
How many times does our will get in the way of God extending His grace and mercy? How many times do we insist on our comfort and call our legions to set us free? Jesus' submission to the Father was the pathway to blessing the world with His grace, mercy and love. Maybe we can die a little bit more to ourselves this year, setting aside our desires more often to permit God to bless someone through us.
Lord Jesus, Your example to us is clear and yet unnerving to us. To let go and totally, recklessly abandon ourselves to You is a frightening prospect. We know You love us and have our best interests at heart at all times. If You can help us focus on that, and teach us to relax out grip just a little more each day, then more completely submitting our lives to you can become an avenue of blessing to us and those around us, and back to You. Amen.
Grace & Peace,