“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”
Here was the last and greatest temptation of them all.
Everything within Jesus drew back at the contemplation of the horror that lay before Him. It was not just the trial and the false and angry accusations that would be levelled at Him. Nor was it the unspeakable brutality of the flogging and the crucifixion with its naked viciousness and searing agony – with no relief and nowhere to hide. There was more. He would be crushed beneath and drowned in the accumulated sin of the world – past, present and future. As it was poured into Him He would suffocate as the Breath of Life left Him and, for the very first time in His existence, He would be separated from the knowledge and intimacy of His relationship with the Father. Everything within Him would die as He hung wretched and alone under the burning blackness, the hideous humiliation and the scathing abuse of Calvary.
There was only one resource that was still open to Jesus – and He took it. He began to pray Himself out of the situation and to pray His Father God into it. He opened Himself with His anguish to the Father – praying so earnestly and intently that His ‘sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.’ This was not Jacob wrestling with God but the Son of God wrestling with His humanity.
He prayed and He prayed and change began to take place. The human Jesus gave way to God the Almighty as He prayed ‘not my will, but Yours be done.’ And, by the time that He returned to the others, He was at peace and in command of Himself. God’s will had taken precedence and He would walk into it in faith and submission.
Here was the fulfilment of His refusal to accept any of the easy options offered to Him by Satan in the desert. For God to be honoured the process would have to be as faultless as the end result. There are no short cuts. God does not build eternal salvation on faulty foundations. All this Jesus knew and accepted so that God could be truly glorified.
Could I say it too? “Not my will, but Yours be done”
(Picture from the Passion of the Christ)