God’s will in Gethsemane

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, "Sit here, while I go over there and pray." And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me." And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will."

-- Matthew 26:36-39, ESV

The whole of Holy Week is a testimony to how God saved His people from their sins. Palm Sunday presents Jesus as the true Messiah. Maundy Thursday shows us what He is all about, love. On Good Friday, He sacrificed His life for ours. Resurrection Sunday is His exclamation point.

But the point at which the victory became most evident happened in a place where olives were pressed into oil, where Jesus was pressed into prayer, and where the ultimate expression of a relationship with God was poured out: "Not as I will, but as You will."

Jesus let His will of desire be known. "Let this cup pass from Me." The "cup," of course is the mix of sorrow, suffering, and death that lie ahead. Jesus, humanly speaking, does not want to go through with it.

Who could blame Him? Who desires to be tortured and killed? Who desires to die in their 30s, in reasonably good health, leaving a host of family and friends behind? And, who on earth would want to endure the death penalty for crimes and sins they did not commit? Remember, Jesus is a man, albeit the God-man, but He is no madman.

But God's will of decree was made plain centuries before Messiah's birth. "It was the will of God to crush him" (Isaiah 53:10). The New Testament fulfills: "Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:3).

Here we have the great Gospel dilemma. God the Son wills, by desire, to live. God the Father wills, by decree, to crucify Him. Whose will is done?

Jesus would have been no coward to turn back from the cross. But, He would be no Savior, either. Clearly, it is God's will to save. So, Jesus surrendered His will to the Father's, and the rest is redemptive history.

Jesus surrendered to the will of the Father because He valued God above all else. He loves you and me more than His own life. He also knew the sure reward to be gained. "Look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2).

Unlike this clash of wills between Father and Son, which resulted in salvation, our wills clash with God's will all the time, resulting in sin. If Jesus had not surrendered His will to God's will, there would be no salvation. If you do not surrender your will to God's will, you cannot be saved.

Your will may be to be happy, but God's will is for you to be holy. Happiness is cheap. Holiness is costly, as costly as Jerusalem, Gethsemane, Calvary, and the surrendering of your will to God's.

Every child of God must come to their own Gethsemane, where the victory over sin and death is won. My Gethsemane was back home in Georgia, in a college apartment, at the age of 20. It was there I learned to value God as treasure above all earthly pleasure. It was there I learned to love Him, and love others, more than myself. It was there I discovered the reward of Heaven is worth giving up or giving over everything I could ever have on earth.

Where did you go to give up your life to the One who gave His life for you? When did you surrender your will to God's will? Where is your Gethsemane?

Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected].

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