The Uncertainty of Obedience – Devotional Series
Scripture: Matthew 26:36-46
36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” 40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” 43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. 45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” (NIV)
Gethsemane – a dark and lonely night for Jesus, indeed! That night, the Word says, His soul was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. I imagine that He was so deeply saddened, that it pierced His soul. And during the most dreadful moment of his life, when he most needed the support of those closest to him, he found them sleeping. Commentators write, that in his humanity Jesus was wrestling with tormenting thoughts. He knew what was about to come, the pain and agony that he would soon endure, the cruel and inhumane suffering. It would begin with the betrayal of his followers, then he would be falsely accused, unjustly arrested and finally tried. He would be mocked and ridiculed; slapped and spat on, he would be stripped of his robes, and stripped of his dignity. At that moment, in that Garden, disquieting thoughts would inundate his mind, thoughts about the savage and brutal beating he would suffer. He would be flogged with a whip designed to tear the skin apart, he would be beaten with a staff over and over and over again. He would wear a crown of thorns made to shame and disgrace him, and be left bruised, swollen, bloodied, wounded and unrecognizable. Isaiah 52:14 (NIV) “… his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness…”
Then, he would face the cross. A path marked only for the worst of criminals. Step after agonizing step down the Via Dolorosa he would carry a cross upon his shoulders that would weigh anywhere from 75-300 pounds, all the while scraping upon his open wounds. His hands and his feet would be nailed to the cross with 5-7-inch iron spikes. He would hang naked on the Cross and be put through unspeakable humiliation before the very woman who had brought him into this world. Six excruciating hours he would hang on the Cross; flesh tearing, blood spilling, wounds gaping, tears flowing, heart breaking. Suddenly, one final blow would hit his lifeless body, a spear measuring 5-6 ft. in length would be punctured through his side, purposed to pierce the heart! So, it’s no wonder, is it, that he cries out to his Father in prayer? He poured out his heart before his dad. “Abba” (Daddy), if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. This was Jesus at his most vulnerable. Not once, not twice, but three times he prayed saying the same thing. You know, the thought of bodily harm was disturbing enough, yet according to what some commentators indicate, the unthinkable was what weighed even heavier on Jesus’ heart! As he carried upon his shoulders the weight of the sin of the world, Jesus would be abandoned by His Father for the very first time. He would be separated from that perfect unity that has existed from the beginning of time. He’d fall to the ground on his face in extreme agony, sweating beads of blood from his brow, with his soul overwhelmed with sorrow, emotionally and deeply distraught, even to the point of death. Unimaginable what our Savior was going through in the Garden of Gethsemane.
However, no matter the whirlwind of emotions that Jesus was experiencing about what would be, his conclusion was clear. He would abide by the will of God! There was no question about that! No uncertainty about obedience! For Jesus had previously shared with the people, “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” (John 6:38). Christ chose to be obedient and lay down his life for the likes of you and me. Phil 2:8, “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!” It was the Father’s will that he would be our sacrificial lamb. The lamb that would take away the sin of the world. The Cross proclaimed who Jesus was and is – The Promised Messiah! The Cross announced God’s immense and inexpressible love for the world, the Cross gives us hope, the Cross grants us forgiveness and the Cross makes us right with God! Hallelujah! Through his obedience Jesus achieved for us what we could never do for ourselves! Romans 5:19, “…through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous!” Jesus’ mission was to do the will of him who sent him and to finish his work (John 4:34). Yes, no matter the cost!
We will never have to experience such a dark and lonely night as Jesus did, however, from time to time we might go through our own Gethsemane. The Lord allows us to live certain experiences that drop us straight to our knees in order to transform us and to shape us into Christlikeness. After all, His will is our sanctification. “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification…” 1 Thess. 4:3. Consider these words from the apostle Peter, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” 1 Peter 4:12–13, 19. Occasionally, He passes us through our Gethsemane, not because he wants to punish us but because He wants our godliness! Timothy R. Berman shares these words in his sermon entitled Having a Gethsemane Experience Towards Spiritual Transformation, “For you and for me, Gethsemane is a place of coming to terms with the will of God. It is a place where we face God’s will, head-on. At Gethsemane, we look honestly and clearly at what God has called us to do. We consider the call and we count the cost. And at Gethsemane we discover that any uncertainty about God’s will is not in His mind. Rather it is in ours. Though we may try to change Him and His will in order to remove the stress, we soon find that His will is fixed and His purpose set.”
When we find ourselves experiencing our own Gethsemane; let us seek His face; let us call upon His name, let us present our petitions before Him; and finally let us surrender our will to the will of the One who gave up what He most loved, His only Son Jesus Christ, out of love for you and me! So,
“If crosses come, if it should cost me dearly,
To be the servant of my Servant Lord,
If darkness falls around the path of duty.
And men despise the Saviour I’ve adored.”
Let us not turn back, whatever it may cost!!!
I invite you to meditate on the words of this beautiful song entitled, “I’ll Not Turn Back” (lyrics written by General John Gowans and music by General John Larsson).
I’ll not turn back, whatever it may cost,
I’m called to live, to love and save the lost,
I’ll not turn back, whatever it may cost,
I’m called to live, to love and save the lost.
If doors should close then other doors will open,
The word of God can never be contained.
His love cannot be finally frustrated,
By narrow minds or prison bars restrained.
If tears should fall, if I am called to suffer,
If all I love men should deface, defame,
I’ll not deny the One that I have followed,
Nor be ashamed to bear my Master’s name.
written by Major Janet Zuniga, Officers’ Services and Records, USA East