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Not What I Will ...

Mark 14:35-36
Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 'Abba, Father,' he said, 'everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.' (NIVUK)

Jesus had chosen to do it, but He did not want to do it.  He knew the plan and had wholeheartedly agreed to die on a cross, bearing the sins of the world and experiencing the full weight of the Father's wrath against Himself.  That 'cup of God's wrath' had already been explained in the Old Testament (Isaiah 51:17), and mentioned by Jesus in Mark 10:38-39.  There was no pleasure in the 'Holy One of Israel' (Isaiah 47:4) to 'become sin for us' (2 Corinthians 5:21).  And yet He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane that Father God would not bring Him to the hour of suffering.  Why?

As the Son of Man, He had to share His heart with Father God.  He always had.  The crushing weight of His atoning sacrifice was very real; and the certainty of resurrection did not stop Him pleading with His Father to be spared the agony of the cross.  As the Son of God in a human body He could not bear the prospect of intentional separation from the Father and the Spirit.  That relationship of total Godhead unity was an eternity long but would be brutally severed as the holiness of God would turn away from the shameful squalor of all the world’s sin filling Jesus (Psalm 22:1; Mark 15:34).

At the same time Jesus was confident that despite the conspiracy between Satan and sinners, ultimate power and authority was in Father God's hands.  He always does whatever He pleases: it was in His hand to grant or refuse the request.  But Jesus was no victim of cosmic abuse (as some have falsely suggested); He willingly chose to submit Himself to His Father's will (Psalm 40:6-8; Hebrews 10:7); and He also did that because He loved us (Galatians 2:20).  Satan chose to disobey the Father’s will, and was damned: Jesus chose to obey and was glorified.  God is always glorified by obedience (2 Corinthians 9:13), and Jesus shared in that glory (John 13:31-32).

Of course, this Gethsemane experience was unique.  It was not intended to be a model for those going through hard times.  Even in our darkest moments, no Christian will ever have to bear the weight of His own sins and face the wrath of God ... Jesus has already done that for us.  But one principle still applies, "Yet not what I will, but what You will".  Our suffering has no atoning power, but it is suffering none the less.  Can we trust Father God in our little pain, as Jesus could in His awesome passion?  Above all, do we really trust that all He suffered was because of us: so that whatever life throws at us, God is at work (Romans 8:28) so that eternity will be calm and bright (1 Thessalonians 5:9)?

Father God. How I thank You that Jesus has already suffered for all my sins; and that He did so because He loved me. Please forgive me for not pouring out my heart to You, and for not submitting my will to Yours. In my little world at home and at work, help me to show my gratitude by seeking Your will above my own. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams