Not My Will, But Yours Be Done
This week, the church around the world is taking the time to focus and remember the passion week of Jesus. We slow down to remember the events of this very important week because this is the most important week in all of human history. It is the week that concludes with God’s sacrificing God’s very life so that humanity might have a restored life with God. It is a week that shows humanity’s propensity for self-preservation, and God’s ability to live self-sacrificially.
But, do you ever wonder what would have happened or what would be happening now if the passion week of Jesus did not end with him hanging on a cross and giving his very life for us?
I don’t know that it nearly didn’t happen, but there was at least that thought–if not in Jesus, then in the mind’s of the Gospel writers. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record a time of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane the night prior to Jesus’ arrest, trial, and eventual crucifixion. Read Luke’s account here.
It’s right there in verse 42–Jesus asks God the Father to take this cup of suffering away from him. Jesus asks for a different plan, a different outcome–one in which he would not be brutally murdered, one in which he would not be cut off from God’s presence, one in which he would not bear the weight of sin and evil upon himself.
But, the second phrase in the prayer makes clear Jesus’ commitment to what God the Father has commissioned God the Son to do. “Not my will, but yours be done,” says Jesus.
It is a simple statement, but it is a powerful prayer.
Now, this story can get confusing when you begin to wonder about the nature of God and the Trinity. What agency does Jesus have in this story? What agency does God the Son have within the Triune God? But, these are not the questions that the Gospel writers were asking, and thus these accounts do not have the answers to these questions. (In fact, remember the Gospel writers themselves likely do not have a very clear understanding of God as Triune–something I think many of us can likely relate to. It would take the early Christians hundreds of years to really tackle this question. What the early Christians were convinced of was that God alone was worthy of worship, and somehow this Jesus was truly Lord–Jesus was worthy of our worship and adoration too.)
What the Gospel writers are more concerned with is telling the story of how it is that this Jesus willingly gave his life, and that in some mysterious, miraculous way, that by doing so, Jesus had given new life to his followers. The old ways of the world have gone, and the new creation has arrived.
This week, as we remember the life of Jesus and his death as a sacrifice, I encourage you to adopt this prayer “Not my will, but yours be done.” Allow this prayer to guide you to join Jesus in declaring that the old ways have gone–the old self, the one who is sinful and selfish has gone. The new creation is come. God’s will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. In my life as it was in Christ’s.