“Then they came to a place named Gethsemane, and He told His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be deeply distressed and horrified. Then He said to them, “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow —to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake.” Then He went a little farther, fell to the ground, and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, “Abba, Father! All things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”” (Mark 14:32–36, HCSB)
This week during my personal Bible reading time, I was blessed to have a familiar scripture speak to me in a profound way. Jesus has just finished the last supper with his disciples. In a few short hours, he would be hanging on the cross – bearing the sins of us all. In these verses from Mark 14, we have a great window into the full humanity of Jesus. Please understand, the Bible teaches that Jesus was both fully God and fully man. He was deity clothed with humanity, but he did not cease being divine. The Word became flesh and lived among us.
In his humanity, Jesus suffered terribly. He knew the horror of being crucified. He knew the incalculable burden of bearing the sins of us all. He knew what was ahead, and, in his humanity, it seemed unbearable. So Jesus prayed. Jesus prayed an honest prayer reflective of how he felt in that moment. Jesus asked not to have to drink the cup of suffering. It’s like Jesus is saying, “Father, if there is any way, don’t make me go through this.” The gut wrenching honesty of that prayer is there on the pages of God’s Word for all to see.
Nevertheless, Jesus was submissive to the Father’s will. After that excruciatingly honest prayer born out of excruciating anguish of spirit, Jesus said, “I willingly accept your plan.” Jesus would not argue or resent what was to come. He would go through it and accept it as the Father’s will.
Don’t miss the pattern of Jesus’ prayer right here. Be honest with your feelings and requests before the Father. Be submissive to the Father’s sovereignty, trusting that His plan is best even if it means excruciating pain. In one single sentence, our Redeemer shows us the way to avoid both bitterness and numb fatalism…”Take this cup away from Me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” There is no conflict between respecting God’s will and honestly praying for God to change a situation. Jesus does both in one sentence.
What does this mean for us today who read this blog? It means that it is perfectly OK to be honest with the Lord and pray hard in the face of tough situations. Honesty before the Lord is not an affront to Him. It also means we can face unbearable burdens knowing that our Heavenly Father’s plan is for our good and His glory. Honest prayer with humble submission in the end.
On the day of our worst pain, we can follow the example of our Redeemer.