“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.
Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39 (NIV)
One of my grandchildren is now 2 years old. He speaks in sentences and communicates his desires easily. As family, we have noted that an expected though unwelcome word has come into his vocabulary. You guessed it, he is using the word “No.” whenever he wishes to express his resistance to our wishes.
I will not say he is in the “terrible twos” because, as a doting grandparent, I am blind to his rebellion most of the time. Maybe I should say instead that I can afford to ignore his resistance to authority as a grandparent and leave it to his parents to deal with his defiance.
All of us are resistant to certain things in life and even as adults we say, “No way.” or some other equally rebellious statement when adversity comes our way. We feel it is appropriate to resist the intruder and fight its presence.
We are reading a very challenging word from the Saviour’s lips at a critical time in His life. For a year (Matthew 16:21ff), Jesus had been teaching a new aspect of His ministry to the disciples. He was teaching them that He had to go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly at the hands of the authorities, die and be raised the third day.
Hence we wonder why Jesus shrank back when the time came to do what He had taught. What was there about dying that distressed Him so much? Many of Jesus’ followers through the centuries have gone bravely to martyrs’ deaths. Why was a torturous death so repugnant to Jesus?
In Matthew 26:37-38 and Mark 14:33-34 Jesus had made a remarkable confession to Peter, James and John in Gethsemane just before making this request of His Father. The disciples witnessed Jesus being filled with horror and anguish and then He said that He was sorrowful even to the point of death.
When a Jew of Jesus’ time prayed the usual posture was to stand and look to heaven (Luke 18:11,13). Only in extreme situations would a Jew fall on his/her face in prayer (Numbers 16:22). Because Jesus fell on His face to pray and because of His evident anguish and statement of horror, we realise He was at a most trying time in His life among us.
What was it then that caused such revulsion by Jesus? Well He was already deserted by Judas who was off betraying Him. Then the eleven who vowed to stay with Him to the death would abandon Him. When Jesus would be tried by His own people He would be rejected. Then the Romans would three times pronounce Him not guilty and then condemn Him to death. Finally and of course most painfully, He wound be abandoned by His beloved Father.
Jesus would suffer the most remarkable shame, humiliation, indignities, and rejection for we who are sinners. However, by suffering such horrendous loss, He would gain our salvation. Can you now see how Jesus’ loss was our gain? Are you within the safety of Jesus’ salvation? Have you sought Him for forgiveness? He proved His profound love for sinners. What more need He do to win your heart and confidence? Come to Him and come now.