Thy Will Be Done

A meditation on the Lord’s prayer in Gethsemane

My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26.39)

Why did our Lord Jesus pray thus in Gethsemane?

He knew His Father’s will and was always determined to fulfill it, continually and unwaveringly. To this the Scriptures witness in abundance… 

In John’s record, the cross is forefront in His thinking from beginning to end throughout His manifestation: 

It was in His own words before His first sign: 

         “My hour has not yet come” (John 2.4). 

And when the time drew near: 

The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit… Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name” (John 12.23-28). 

And before Gethsemane: 

         “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you” (John 17.1)

The lengthiest section of Luke’s record spans from Luke 9.51: 

         “When the days drew near for Him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem” 

To Luke 19.41:

         “When He drew near and saw the city” 

There portraying Jesus’ final journey to Jerusalem, not necessarily a direct journey in geographical terms, but with unmistakable deliberateness: 

He sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem” (Luke 9.52-53).

Likewise in Matthew, when Jesus reaches what is probably the place farthest north and away from Jerusalem, it’s then that: 

[North of Israel, in Caesarea Philippi] “Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Matthew 16.21) 

There the long southward journey to the cross starts; not a visit due to a feast of the Jews, as was His custom, but a deliberate journey to His Scriptural destiny, through which He prepared His afraid disciples accordingly:

[South of Caesarea Philippi] “As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them [the disciples], “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day.” And they were greatly distressed.” (Matthew 17.22-23)

[South of Galilee, already in Judea] “As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.’” (Matthew 20.17-19) 

[And already in Jerusalem] “He said to his disciples, ‘You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified… Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, my time is at hand.’’” (Matthew 26.1-2, 18)

Also His certainty on the complete fulfillment of the Scriptures is evident that very fateful night:

And as they were eating, he said, ‘Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me… The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed!’” (Matthew 26.21-24)

Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”” (Matthew 26.31-32)

At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.” (Matthew 26.55-56)

Why then did He pray thus “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.“? (Matthew 26.39) 

We are standing on “holy ground”, in the presence of the “Holy One” and “True God”, and “who is sufficient for these things?” But can we consider a thought about this, even if inaccurate, or too human, yet profitable for us in knowing Him, loving Him and emulating Him better?

At Gethsemane we peer into His soul. It’s a unique disclosure in the record. The written hour has come, and the majestic Christ’s inner being is deeply moved:

         “He began to be sorrowful and troubled.”  (Matthew 26.37)

         “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” (Matthew 26.38)

And at the least by way of application to us, in human identification with Him, as Christians, we could think this way: In a difficult hour, when distress has come, but it’s not to settle in the heart: 

God, you are my Father, my loving and all-caring Father. 

You can be trusted completely in all circumstances, and all things are possible for you, even now.

Above all I want that your will be done. This may not[1] be taken away from me. 

I do recoil at the event to come. My Father: Can this be taken away from me?

But I want your will done, not mine!

And there appeared to Him an angel from Heaven, strengthening Him.” (Luke 22.43)

Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”  (Matthew 26.42)

In your strength I am determined to carry out your will.

For this reason I pray to you intently, because I want your will done.

May you be honored in me, whether by life or by death.

Therefore I pray to you in this hour: “Your will be done”

My Father!

The disciples at Gethsemane ought to have prayed that they may not enter into temptation, but the holy Lord Jesus could not be tempted to sin. Yet He experienced sorrows and distress, like we do, and thus, He experienced the sorrow of this tremendous hour. What should be done then?

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”  (Philippians 4.6).

Let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”  (1 Peter 4.19)

The time at Gethsemane is ended. The majestic Christ is no longer prostrate, but leading the events to come. The cross is still ahead. And He continues His journey to it, and He’s not going to let any of the Scriptures fall to the ground: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” (John 4.34)

In that very same place the Lord Jesus says to His disciples:

         “Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand” (Matthew 26.46)

And to the betrayer:

         “Friend, do what you came to do.” (Matthew 26.50)

And to the impulsive disciple:

“Put your sword back into its place… Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” (Matthew 26.52-54)

And to the “arresting” crowds: 

All this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled’. (Then all the disciples left him and fled)” (Matthew 26.56)

And later on, to the earthly judge:

 “He gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed” (Matthew 27.14)

And to the great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him:

Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves” (Luke 23.28)

Nevertheless we understand that Gethsemane was not the end: the cross He faced completely. In another unique disclosure of the travail of His soul, we hear the cry that still pierces through the soul of each individual cleansed by His precious blood:

         “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27.46, Mark 15.34)

And we worship Him who in unshakable trust and obedience to the Father, came from above, endured the cross, glorified His Father, saved our souls, and went back where He was before:

Fatherinto your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23.46)

[1] Christ could have said “this cannot be taken away from me”.

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