On this blessed Good Friday, I am pondering two things about this amazing statement prayed by Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane just prior to His arrest, false trials, suffering and death on a cruel cross: “Not my will, but Yours be done …”
1. Jesus, like all of us, did not want to suffer the cruelties that were ahead of Him. Like those of us who have known suffering, we would want this cup of suffering to pass from us. Jesus understands that yearning, this greatest of our desires. Is it comforting to know that our Lord did not want to suffer either? Yet in this most powerful and poignant moments of Christ’s passion, He understood that saying “yes” to the will of God, even if that included unimaginable suffering, was His greatest act of obedience to the Father and greatest demonstration of His love of and trust in the Father.
Now, our cup of suffering is so much smaller, isn’t it? We do not have to take upon ourselves the wrath of God for the sin of the world as did our Lord. None of us, no matter how severe our suffering, will ever come close to what Jesus suffered for our sake. BUT it is important to remember that Jesus said “yes” to suffering as long as that suffering was held in the hand of the His Father, Who Jesus loved and Who He trusted. And we can do this also! Let this be true of us who find suffering has entered our life. Let us place our suffering to be held in the hands of our Father and then, with submission of spirit, let us be willing to say with Jesus, our Kind Savior, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”
2. The second poignant point I see in this amazing prayer is that Jesus was praying exactly as He taught us to pray. Do you remember the words of what we call “The Lord’s Prayer” – the prayer Jesus taught His disciples to pray? “Our Father, Who art in heaven. Hallowed be Thy Name. They Kingdom come, THY WILL BE DONE on earth as it is in heaven.” How authentic does this make the teaching of Jesus? Exactly what He taught us to pray came flowing from His inner being in the moment of His greatest trial. “Thy will be done.” Jesus never taught us to do or say anything that He did not authentically, consistently, perfectly do and say Himself.
It has been said that the curse that came from one act of rebellion in one garden (Eden) was eradicated by one act of submission in a second garden (Gethsemane). Yes, Jesus did have to go on to suffer immeasurably and die cruelly on Calvary’s cross that the wrath of God be satisfied for all our sins. But Dear Ones — don’t miss this — the battle was already won because Jesus had fully submitted to the Father’s will in the Garden hours before His crucifixion. Again, let that be said of us also. May our submission be so complete that nothing will prevent the full will of the Father from being done in our lives … as it is in heaven.
God bless you richly on this dark but nonetheless Good Friday,
After more than 25 years in parish ministry, Rev. Cathie retired in early 2018 to pursue a quieter life with her husband Philip in the mountains of Central Oregon. Although no longer a leader in congregational life, she continues to follow her calling and passion to minister to those who suffer, especially those with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.