I love Holy Week.
I love the opportunity to take a fresh look at the journey Jesus took as he headed towards the cross. I know this may sound a bit silly, but because Jesus was fully God, I sometimes forget that He was also fully human. It’s a hard mystery for us mortals to get our heads round – that Jesus was both fully God and fully human.
But when I look at his time in the Garden of Gethsemane I am struck more than anything by His humanity.
He wants His family – His disciples – to stay awake with Him. But all they can do is fall asleep.
And He prays that prayer. It’s a prayer that says “If there’s another way – if there’s another way to get your children back, then please take this suffering away from me.” The agonising reality of what is to come hits Him in full force – all the punishment will be laid upon Him, and He’ll be separated from the Father.
And yet He then utters some of His most powerful words: “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
“Your will, not mine.”
“This isn’t about my immediate pain, my immediate reality, what I’m experiencing right now. I’m trusting you Father, and whatever you say I will do.”
“Whatever you say I will do.”
I can’t imagine those words would have rolled off His tongue. These were weighty, measured, full-on words: “Whatever you say I will do.” The words in the New Living Translation say “He was in such agony of spirit that His sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.” These weren’t roll-off-the-tongue-kind-of-words.
But when I read the account in Luke 22, I’m amazed to see that as He uttered those words “an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened Him.”
In that moment, where Jesus fully embraced the reality of what was to come, the Father sent an angel. I wonder how the angel strengthened Him. Some commentaries suggest it was physical strengthening because His body had become so weakened with sorrow – He needed strengthening so that He was physically able to go to the cross. I don’t know. One day I’ll ask the Father and I’ll know, for sure.
But I love the fact that this fully human Son of God was given strength to continue in obedience.
None of us will ever face anything like this. But if we’re following Jesus there will certainly be time where we too will utter those words “”I want your will to be done, not mine. Whatever you say I will do.”
But as we utter those words we will also be given what we need by the Father to continue in that path of obedience, the path that takes us towards the cross. There’s always a channel of grace offered to us as we walk in obedience.
We may receive a scripture, an encouragement from another, an increase in joy, maybe even an angel…. whatever it is, it doesn’t really matter. Because it will be enough. It will be enough to physically, emotionally or spiritually strengthen us, to keep us going on the path He calls us to walk. That’s the kind of Father He is.
“I want your will to be done, not mine.”
41 He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” 43 Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him.44 He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.
Luke 22 (New Living Translation)
“He knew it was time for him to die. They had planned it long ago, he and his Father. Jesus was going to take the punishment for all the wrong things anybody had ever done, or ever would do.
‘Papa! Father!’ Jesus cried. And he fell to the ground. ‘Is there any other way to get your children back? To heal their hearts? To get rid of the poison?’
But Jesus knew – there was no other way. All the poison of sin was going to have to go into hs own heart.
God was going to pour into Jesus’ heart all the sadness and brokeness in people’s hearts. He was going to pour into Jesus’ body all the sickness in people’s bodies. God was going to have to blame his son for everything that had gone wrong. It would crush Jesus.
But there was something else, something even more horrible. When people ran way from God, they lost God – it was what happened when they ran away. Not being closes to God was like a punishment. Jesus was going to take that punishment.
Jesus knew what that meant. He was going to lose his father – and that, Jesus knew, would break his heart in two.
Violent sobs shook Jesus’ whole body.
Then Jesus was quiet. Like a lamb. ‘I trust you, Papa,’ he said. Whatever you say I will do.’ ”
A Dark Night in the Garden, The Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones