Jesus prayed for us
Jesus prayed according to his Father’s will.
Samuel C. Degner
Husband and wife are deep in discussion, seated at the kitchen table in their cramped apartment. After weeks of shopping for a house of their own, they have finally found their dream home. Actually, homes . . . and that’s the problem. Each one has fallen in love with a different house. For days now, they have gone back and forth, poring over the pictures, listing pros and cons, gently trying to change each other’s mind.
Finally, they realize that a decision has to be made. They look at each other across their tiny table. The wife breaks the silence. “Whatever you want, honey. You’re the head; I trust you to decide what’s best for us.” Wonderfully loving and submissive words . . . but her lack of eye contact, her cool tone of voice, and her abrupt exit from the table all join in concert to add: “But you better choose the one I want.”
YOUR WILL BE DONE
Have you ever caught yourself praying that way? We know that God invites us to ask for whatever we want and asks us to be willing to accept whatever we get. So we say, “Lord, if it’s your will.” Yet even as we say the words, our sinful heart adds, “But I sure hope you don’t disappoint me.” We say, “Your will be done,” but we know that if God’s will doesn’t match ours, a part of us won’t be happy. In fact, these words can even start to feel like a ploy, as if we think that saying what God wants to hear will make him more likely to give us what we want. We must often sound like the house-hunting wife when we say to God, “Whatever you want.”
That’s not what it sounds like when Jesus prays. Follow him to a garden called Gethsemane. Step over three sleeping disciples and walk about as far as you can throw a stone. There, in the darkness, you’ll find him with his face on the ground. Sneak up close to listen as he prays. “Abba, Father . . . everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36). Your will be done, he says, and he means it! This is no attempt at manipulation.
This is no act, either. Jesus is in real distress. He knows what he is about to endure. Its weight is almost unbearable. He is strengthened by angels, and even then his anguish increases to the point that his sweat is like blood.
But if this is the cup his Father has given, he will drink it to the dregs! It’s not just “whatever you want, God.” It’s “Father, whatever you want is what I want too.”
GOD’S WILL IS PERFECT
Daylight brings the proof. Friday finds Jesus obediently submitting to a Jewish council and a Roman governor. The Son complies with his Father’s will all the way to the end. His actions show that he was sincere when he said, “Your will be done.” His perfect obedience to that will, even to the point of death on a cross, atones for our failures to say the same.
When we see what God’s will has accomplished, we cannot help but want to pray as Jesus did. God’s will was for his own Son to suffer and die in our place so that we can live forever with him. Abba, Father, if that’s what your will looks like, then let your will be done every time!
Contributing editor Samuel Degner is pastor at Bethel, Menasha, Wisconsin.
This is the sixth article in a nine-part series on Jesus and his prayer life.
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Author: Samuel C. Degner
Volume 102, Number 4
Issue: April 2015
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