Read through the Gospels in a Year: Matthew 26:36-56
Read the New Testament in a Year: Romans 11:1-24
We live in a Burger King world where we want to have everything our way. The way of Jesus is to say to God, ‘not my way but your way’. Jesus not only taught us to pray ‘your will be done’, he also prayed it himself: ‘My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want?’ (v.39). A second time he prayed, ‘My father, if there is no other way than this, drinking this cup to the dregs, I’m ready. Do it your way’ (v.42).
These are not prayers of resignation, but prayers of great courage – being willing to follow God’s ways, no matter what. In this passage we see Jesus’ humanity: ‘He began to show grief and distress and was deeply depressed’ (v.37, AMP). He has his three closest friends with him. The same three who saw Jesus in divine glory at the transfiguration now see Jesus in the depths of human sorrow. He prays for God the Father to show him if there is any alternative. Nevertheless, he is willing to do the Father’s will whatever the cost.
For Jesus, the cost was of a totally different order to anything we face. He took the sins of the whole world on his shoulders. Hence his soul was ‘overwhelmed with sorrow’ (v.38). Three times, Jesus prays for ‘this cup’ to be taken away from him (vv.39,42,44). The cup refers to his impending suffering and death. Just before going to the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus spoke of the cup at the Passover meal representing his blood ‘poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins’ (v.28). More than that, as is often the case in the Old Testament, this cup includes reference to God’s wrath (for example Isaiah 51:22; Habakkuk 2:16). On the cross Jesus took the cup in your place.
When you are deeply depressed, overwhelmed with sorrow, troubled or in the middle of tough times, it is such an encouragement to know that Jesus has experienced all that you face, and far more. Jesus knows what you are going through and you can follow his example by submitting your ways to God. There is an amazing contrast between what took place in the Garden of Gethsemane and in the Garden of Eden. ‘Not your way, but mine’, was the essence of the response of Adam and Eve to God in the first garden. However, in the second garden, ‘Not my way, but yours’ was Jesus’ prayer to the Father. Doing it God’s way meant suffering and death. But, it brought the redemption of the whole world.
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