I sat down to a little research before moving forward with my WIP on Gethsemane. I picked up my commentary and began reading about Jesus being fully God and fully man ("The Christian's Reasonable Service" by Wilhelmus a` Brakel, p. 503-510). Powerful stuff! The quiet of my house was a little too quiet, so I opened iTunes and clicked play.
Casting Crown's "Oh, My Soul" sucked me in, reminding me that I am never alone. I thought of Jesus in Gethsemane. As he lay face down on the garden floor, he knew he would suffer in a way no other child of God had ever or would ever suffer (Mark 14:32-42). Yes. He would take our place. We would never, ever have to face the darkness alone. No matter how abandoned we might feel at times in our trials, in our sufferings, we are never truly alone. God promised his people that he would never leave us. He would never forsake us (Hebrews 13:5b). Instead, the Father would forsake Jesus as Jesus took our sins upon himself at the cross.
Jesus knew this was coming. He knew the cup of the Father's holy wrath would be poured out upon him. He knew this would separate him from the Father in a way he had never before experienced. Prostrate on the garden floor, his tears, sweat, and blood soaked the ground beneath him as he pleaded with the Father to find another way.
"Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me (Mark 14:36)."
Does this sound like a familiar refrain? How many times have we prayed this very thing? For Jesus, this was too much to bear. This impending, unfathomable, unbearable horror of the Father's wrath and rejection - the separation from the Father and his love, was too much to bear. The Father who had said of him, "This is my Son, with whom I am well pleased," would turn his back on him (Matthew 3:16-17). And all for you and me.
I cannot imagine facing anything in life without the love, mercy, favor, and presence of my Heavenly Father. But Jesus faced that very thing. And he did it for us. For all his pleading, when it came down to it, Jesus uttered that well-known refrain:
"Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done (Luke 22:42)."
As I listened to my pastor, Dr. Derek W. H. Thomas, preach on this breathtaking passage, curious questions niggled at my mind. Why? How? As the darkness closed in on Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane that day, what was the tipping point for him? What caused him to utter those words, "not my will, but yours be done?" This is the question at the heart of "Through Gethsemane's Gate." What, do you think, took Jesus from utter anguish to unwavering submission? And while we will never experience the wrath of God and utter darkness that Jesus did on that day, how do we respond to our own crises? Is there a tipping point for us when we say this with Jesus?
"Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done."
*Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references quoted are from the ESV.