• 15 January 2024

Chapter 15 – Yet Not My Will

We are treading here on holy ground and so we must tread reverently.

The Lord Jesus is like us in that He too experienced fear, ‘Take this cup away from me; yet not my will, but yours be done’ (Lk. 22:42). When we are frightened we may recall that the Lord in His humanity faced fear too. In fact, He faced fear far worse than any of us will ever face.

But He is not like us for he had a choice. Even when He reveals Himself to the soldiers who have come to arrest Him by saying, ‘I am he’ ( Jn. 18:5), this invocation of the divine name causes the soldiers to fall on the ground in terror.

Normally we have no choice in our suffering. The Lord has both the means to escape suffering – one angel is terrifying while a legion would be overwhelming – and the grounds, for He, unlike us, is totally innocent of any wrongdoing. Death has no jurisdiction over Him.

Yet, He is treated as a criminal. He willingly takes the cup of suffering that we deserve, the cup of God’s judgment on our sin, and he freely drinks it for the love He has for us.‘

My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death’ (Mt. 26:38). Where does sorrow and suffering come from? From sin. From our sin. Jesus carried our sorrow and our sin to the cross. He is the man of sorrows, which means He is acquainted with sorrow.

Gethsemane shows that Jesus is a man of prayer. Prayer is a confession of our limitation, but Jesus was also God so why did He need to pray? Because, as Philippians 2 tells us, He humbled Himself by taking the nature of a servant.

I find prayer very hard and although my prayer life has improved a little since I’ve been unwell, I still feel ashamed at how weak it is. How much we can learn from the Lord and His constant prayer. Are we in trouble and frightened of suffering and facing death? Then like the Lord we must ask for help.

‘Your will be done’, which is, of course, a phrase from The Lord’s Prayer. The will of the Father was that Jesus would be the sacrifice for our sins. He alone can pay the bill. We are bankrupt. But how much must we be conformed to Him as He prayed that God’s will would be done. He is a man of prayer. His prayer is the prayer of faith. Ours must be the same. He learned obedience in suffering and so must we.

This is hard to do. I don’t think it’s wrong to pray that God would relieve us from our suffering. But it may be that He will not or, at least, not for a time, or only partly. This is very hard to accept. I know from my own experience. I recently found out that I have to restart chemotherapy. We cannot pray ‘yet not my will, but yours be done’ by ourselves when we are suffering, but the Spirit can and will help us.

Hugh Martin in his wonderful classic work The Shadow of Calvaryurges us to join the Lord in Gethsemane, ‘Be in prayer beside the saviour, mingling your crying and tears with his: when Jehovah looks on his anointed, he will lift on you the light of his face.’

The way of Christ is the way of the cross. We must go down into the Jordan to come up into the Promised Land. But the Saviour bids us to follow in His footsteps. He has paid the bill which we could not possibly pay and He has drained our cup of suffering and will ferry us safely to the other side.

Excerpt from Hope in the face of suffering – 20 devotions for tough times by Jeremy Marshall

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