Matthew 26:39 (ESV)
39 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 26:52-55 (ESV)
52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”
The other day I posted about Christian liberty. The ideal is that because we have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus what we do in this life has essentially no impact on our eternal salvation post conversion. It is really a wild thought to embrace the ideal that God no longer requires us to keep a set of rules in order to be in fellowship with Him. (Romans 11:6)
Today’s verses from the ministry of Jesus help demonstrate how our Christian liberty intersects with our relationship with God. The story that unfolds in these verses takes place just hours before Jesus is arrested. At this point in the narrative Jesus and the disciples had shared the Passover meal together and now they were in the Garden of Gethsemane. The text tells us that Jesus was “sorrowful and troubled”(v37) and that he departed from the group to pray. In Matthew 26:39, Jesus pleads with the Father about what is about to occur. We have to remember that Jesus, while fully God came to live among us in human form. Sometime we don’t understand or realize or forget that the way Jesus interacted with the Father is the same way we do. He was filled by the Spirit at his baptism and communicated to God in prayer and through the Spirit. So in his humanity Jesus is asking the Father to spare him from the torture and death he is about to endure. But notice even though he has the liberty to not “drink” the cup he yields his will to plan that Father has laid before him.
A second example of Jesus yielding his will to the Father’s will comes just moments later . After Jesus had prayed a crowd came to seize him. We are told that one of his disciples pulls out a sword and begins to defend Jesus. If we look in Matthew 26:52-55 we see that Jesus again points to the Father’s plan as the motivator of his own actions. Jesus explains to his disciples that he very well could be free of the captivity that he beginning to experience but that a greater plan was at work. The Father’s plan. He admonishes them not try and alter the what God is doing because he himself, that is Jesus in his will, has chosen not to alter it.
So what is the application?
I think they way we apply the example that Jesus gives us here is to emulate it. As we examine ourselves we need to understand whether the things we do are based on our own desires or are they in-line with the Father’s plan. I think our attitude has to be that of Jesus’ continual application of “not my will, but your will be done”.
I know at this point many of us will claim that we don’t know what God’s will for our life is. We have not had a burning bush experience or had a booming audible voice from heaven tell us the direction to go. Well, shame on us who make this claim. Do we not have Jesus? Are we not Christians because we profess and claim that we have a relationship with the eternal God who created and sustains everything through the sacrifice of our Lord? Is God not our Father who we can now commune with directly? Did not Jesus our God tell us that when he returned to Heaven that the Holy Spirit would come and dwell in us to lead us into all righteousness? Did Jesus not tell us to go and make disciples, be his witness, love and fellowship with each other, love God, look after orphans and widows, love our enemies, care for the least of these, remember the commandments, and so many more things. Let us not ever say that the will of God has not been revealed to us. Let us not bow to that voice inside of us that says we did not do because we did not know. We have to be honest with ourselves. Either we believe in this relationship with God and desire to do His will or we are just playing games hedging our bets hoping that Heaven is real and that we will get in it if we say and religiously do the “right” things.
I say all this not to be harsh, but out of conviction. I have spent way to long in liberty and as I read Scripture I am all the more convicted of my own short- comings and challenged to be more like Jesus and yield my liberty to the will of the Father. I realize that the truest liberty I have is to give my life back in humble submission to the One who first gave it to me.
Heavenly Father, thank you God that you allow us to relate to you as your child. Thank you Lord Jesus for yielding your will to that of the Father so that we may also know the Father. Forgive our apathy when it comes to doing the things your have set before us in your Word. Forgive us for resting in the abiding grace of your salvation and continuing to live a life of our own will. Empower us Holy Spirit to do the will of the Father and help us die to the will of the flesh. Our lives are given and redeemed by you God. We yield them back to you today. In Jesus’ name. Amen .