Matthew 26:39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
This is probably the most famous recorded prayer of Jesus Himself, since what is called The Lord’s Prayer is what He taught his disciples to pray. It’s an awesome prayer in many ways. We tend to overlook the fact that along with all His physical suffering, depicted so graphically in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, He also had intense emotional suffering. We have no record of when, as a human being, He became aware that He would go through crucifixion, but He told His disciples about it many times, even though they couldn’t grasp what He was saying to them. That awareness comes to a peak right here, even before His arrest, and the stress is so great that Luke, as a physician, records that he had the rare, but documented, situation of capillaries rupturing so that blood mixed with His sweat. (Luke 22:44) Such emotional distress is intense indeed! I don’t know that it would have been so intense if He hadn’t had the power, as the Son of God, to call “more than twelve legions of angels” to His defense. (Matthew 26:53) His human side desperately wanted to do exactly that! In spite of that, as the only perfect human being, He chose to submit to the Father’s plan, knowing the cost to Himself. In Hebrews it says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) Good advice indeed!
Every time I do a wedding I talk about this as the greatest illustration of the love of God. However, talking about it doesn’t mean it’s always in the forefront of my awareness. I have heard some teachers emphasize “praying in faith” to the point that they discourage praying this prayer of Jesus, saying that for us it’s a cop-out. In some cases it may be, but I never want to place my will ahead of God’s. I’m reminded of the story of when Smith Wigglesworth resurrected his own wife, and she said to him, “Smith, why did you do that?” After about 20 minutes of conversation he submitted to the Father’s will and allowed her to go on to heaven. I would be strongly tempted to at least try the same thing, should it come my wife’s time, but at least I know better, since she’s already been and come back once, and I don’t want to deprive her of all that awaits her there. In some ways it’s harder to pray in submission over smaller things, since we don’t even realize we’re being rebellious. We aren’t to be doormats for the devil’s schemes, but if we’re going to resist him, we’ve got to submit to God first. (James 4:7) I need to keep that in focus all the time.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for Passion Week to think about all of this. I pray that You would enable every one of Your children get this into sharp focus, so that together we may indeed submit to You and resist the devil, so that Your kingdom may come and Your will be done, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!