Do the decisions I make today really matter?
Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.
We make dozens of decisions every day, some simple, some more complex. Some internet sources estimate that adults make about 35,000 conscious decisions each day. We make 226.7 decisions each day on just food alone, according to researchers at Cornell University. In today’s reality, it might be, “do I order dinner through Skip The Dishes or DoorDash today?”
Jesus is here sitting in the Garden of Gethsemane, halfway down the Mount of Olives praying through the night. He takes a few disciples with him, and they were meant to keep watch, but because their eyes were too heavy, they fell asleep several times. As we read Luke’s account of the story, we can see that Jesus indeed is being tormented in spirit; His heart is being crushed as his abandonment upon the cross is in full view. He is about to reach the depths of human brokenness and lift up His voice in prayer. So here He comes to the garden on a hill-side to feel and experience the relentless pressure of being forsaken by God.
We probably get the most significant glimpse into Jesus’ mind and His mental and spiritual state before He was crucified. Remember, He knew it was coming. He had been telling the disciples about it, even right up until the moment before leaving the upper room and walking the path to the Garden of Gethsemane. His looming death didn’t come of a shock to Him, but yet, Jesus shows us His humanness and total submission to the will of God.
On May 1st, I will have lived here in Edmonton for four years. It’s my second stint. I moved here once before, in May as well. I had finished Bible School, and I got a job doing roofing. I wanted to stay in Canada, so with no experience and never having visited Edmonton before I moved out in May 2007 and got to work. After a few weeks, it was clear I was not cut out for this job, and I didn’t enjoy the work whatsoever. So, I quit. I was young, unwise, and inexperienced as an adult. I can say that now, as I’m almost 33 and I have had plenty of time to look back. But here lies the problem. I wasn’t allowed to go to work anywhere else because my work visa only enabled me to work for the one roofing company. But, I found other work. Eventually, I had to surrender my visa, and I had to leave Canada in October 2007.
Along that whole journey that lasted a few months, I could have made different decisions. I should have obeyed the law. But I simply chose not too. I decided on my own will. When I eventually was given two weeks to sort out new paperwork or leave, this overwhelming peace came upon me. I knew it was the right thing to do, and I knew I was being sent back home (Liverpool, England). My flesh wanted to stay because I so badly wanted to live in Canada, but my spirit was telling me it was time to leave. It was so hard saying goodbye to people I had become so close within such a short space of time. Little did I know, because of those few months living here and being connected to Beulah, I would end up coming back as the Young Adults Pastor 9 years later.
Matthew tells us that the soul of Jesus is “very sorrowful, even to death.” Why? Why is Jesus here experiencing the uttermost grief and sorrow that a man can take? Why is he on the verge of death as he bears up under this grief? It is because of the infinite price-tag that accompanies dealing with our sin as He was about to face.
Jesus is fully God, but He is also fully human. He lived to show us what it means to be human. His human nature, though perfect, still struggled with the need to accept the torture and shame that awaited Him; His flesh wanted to pull back from the cross. In the same context, Jesus says to His disciples, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mathew 26:41). In praying, “Let this cup pass from me,” Jesus was battling the flesh and its desire for self-preservation and comfort. The struggle was intense; Luke, the physician, observed that Jesus was sweating blood—a sign of extreme anguish. If anything, this prayer shows that Jesus was indeed fully man.
My flesh was weak during the summer of 2007. When it came to crunch time in deciding between staying or going, I could still have disobeyed and fought to stay, both with immigration and with my spirit. Choosing to submit to the will of God through obedience was not only the right thing to do but the best thing. So much fruit came from moving home. God worked in ways that I would have never imagined and used my time there to cement my passion for being in ministry, and specifically young adults ministry one day.
We know that the cup is divine wrath, and Jesus is getting ready to drink it. Jesus, looking down the barrel of divine wrath, pleads for the cup to be removed. The one thing that Jesus elevates above his fellowship with his Father (which he has intimately enjoyed throughout eternity) is the will of God. Jesus says in effect, “Take this away…I can’t bear to be separated from you….unless, it is your will, for then I will guzzle the cup. For your will is right and good.” O’ that we would learn from our Master here!
The Gospel Coalition
That last line is one that we can allow to hit home, “O’ that we would learn from our Master here!”
There are always two decisions in front of us. Do we choose our own will and desires, or we choose the will of God? We must fight the temptation to be God. Instead, we can joyfully submit to His will. Just like I never knew of all the fruit that could come from moving back home (friends becoming Christians, being affirmed in my calling to Pastoral ministry, and eventually being called back to Edmonton), you will not know the gospel fruit that can come from choosing to deny yourself, and submit to His will and not your own; even if it is many years later.
So friends, pull up a chair in Luke 22 this week and see your Savior deal simultaneously with the price-tag for your sin and the immovable righteousness and holiness of God. Come and see him pray, cry, and sweat. And then watch Him look His betrayer in the eye and march decisively to Calvary only to die for sinners such as us. Amazing. Sit and stare and be amazed this holy week.
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.