“And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you may not enter into temptation.’ And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.’ And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.”
If you are willing
We can look back at this moment of Christ’s anguish and rejoice, not in the physical pain of His suffering, but in that God was not willing for His work to go unfinished. If there could have been any other way to forgive our sin, perhaps God would have spared His Son. If there had been any other way to make us righteous, Jesus would not have had to die. But there was not.
God was willing, in this hour, to crush His Son so that He might secure for us an eternal redemption.
God’s desire, since time began, has been to bring man to Himself. He accomplished this through Jesus Christ. So when all the purpose of God for all eternity was focused on Christ on that night in the garden, God’s answer to Jesus’ prayer was already known.
- Isaiah 53:10; “It was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.”
- Hebrews 10:5-10; “Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.”‘ When he said above, ‘You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings’ (these are offered according to the law), then he added, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will.’ He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. And by that will [the will of God] we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
God’s will has always been to sanctify us through the offering of Christ’s body. Jesus came to complete that will–to crushed for our iniquities and raised for our justification.
Not my will, but yours, be done
We might, at first glance, think that Jesus didn’t want what God wanted. Detach yourself from human logic for a minute to remember that Jesus was both fully God and fully human. It was the physical pain, the separation from the Father, the tormenting act of bearing an entire world’s sin that brought Jesus into agony that night. He did not resent the result–it was His will, just as it was God’s, to bring all men to Himself even if by means of His death. He knew what He had to go through to make us His, so He endured the cross, despising the shame in light of the joy that was set before Him.
- Luke 13:34; “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!”
- John 17:24; “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”
- John 12:32-33; “‘And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.”
- John 3:14-18; And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
“Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, ‘Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.'”
Giving of one’s money as a sacrifice for the sake of redemption is futile. No matter how much a person gives, he cannot purchase the salvation of his soul.
- Psalms 49:7-9; “Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit.”‘
Giving of one’s money (especially when in want as this widow was) as worship to the Lord to honor and thank Him for His blessings is joyful and rewarding.
- 2 Corinthians 8:1-5; “We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints–and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.”
- 2 Corinthians 9:6-11; “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, ‘He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.’ He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.”
Our motivation to give is not to approve ourselves before the Father or to get something in return; our motivation is to give back to Him who first gave everything for us.
- 2 Corinthians 8:9; “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
- Philippians 2:6-8; “Though [Christ Jesus] was in the form of God, [He] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
- 1 Peter 1:18-19; “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”
The Almighty Lord of Glory set aside His kingly vesture to wear a crown of thorns for us. He who is the owner of cattle on a thousand hills humbled Himself low enough to be born in a manger–a cold, stone feeding trough for livestock. He had no place to lay His head while He walked the earth and no place to lay His body when He died. He became the poorest of the poor for you and me. He left His heavenly throne and the angelic choir who sang, “Holy, holy, holy,” day and night to be spat upon and mocked, beaten and nailed to a cross by the people He created.
All of this to make us rich.
All of this so that by faith in Him we could be made sons of God and heirs with Christ. Heirs of eternal life, recipients of mercy, portraits of grace.
Giving Jesus’ way is giving everything for nothing in return. Although through His sacrifice He did gain something. He gained us.
- Isaiah 53:11; “Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.”
He gained a kingdom of priests set apart to offer spiritual sacrifices to Him. He gained children made righteous: sinners justified and made to stand in His presence for eternity.
“A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink.’ (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?’ (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)”
Jews have no dealings with Samaritans
In his commentary of the Bible, Adam Clarke said of the Jews’ disdain for the Samaritans that they “will not drink out of the same cup or well with them; will not sit down to meals with them, nor eat out of the same vessel; will have no religious connection, no commercial dealings with them.” Though the cultural norm in Jesus’ day was to look down upon women and distance one’s self from Samaritans, Jesus took it upon Himself to approach them and preach the gospel.
He came and preached peace
Every one of us can put ourselves in this woman’s shoes. All of us at one time (if not still today) were separate from Christ, alienated from Israel–without hope, without God in the world. But just as Jesus broke through cultural boundaries in His day to approach this one woman, so too He has come to preach peace to us who were far away from God. His message is simple: through faith in Him–Jesus Christ–we all may approach God being fully at peace with Him through forgiveness by His blood.
- Titus 3:3-7 “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
- Ephesians 2:11-18 “Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands–remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.”
More emphatic than the enmity that existed between the Jews and the Samaritans is the enmity between us and God. We, the willfully disobedient creature, have put ourselves at opposition with the one perfect, holy God. He sought to bring peace between us. This He did by breaking down the dividing wall of hostility, abolishing the law of commandments that stood between us, and shedding His blood to provide forgiveness for all sin. He has come to preach peace both to us who are far off and to the Jew who is near showing us the singular way to access the Father: through faith in Jesus Christ.