Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Garden of Gethsemane and choice

Not to long ago we passed one of the most important "holidays" for a Christian.... Easter. I tend to think it is the most important. Easter is what essentially sets Christianity apart from other religions. Jesus, claiming to be God and proving so, dies and then most importantly rose again.

Now I'm not going to dwell on this to much, but I want to zoom in on the Garden of Gethsemane, right before Jesus enters into His unjust punishment and death. Jesus, after the big "last supper", goes on one last walk-n-talk with His disciples before He goes to the cross. He chats with them a little bit and then asks them to just sit down, relax, pray, and wait. In the meantime He goes a little farther to pray on His own. It is at this point Jesus is entirely stressed (Matt. 26:37). He knows what's about to go down. He knows that Judas just got his big lump sum of money and is on His way. And, not surprisingly, Jesus goes to pray. He has a long time of prayer. It is so long that the disciples keep falling asleep. I wonder what was going on in their heads: "Man, this is taking forever", "What is taking Jesus so long", "If He is gonna take all night, I'm just gonna get cozy by this tree", etc. Anyway, I digress.

Jesus prays for multitude of items and people, including the entire world. But, also He prays for Himself. Now, I have read over this particular part of His prayer so many times over my life, but I didn't ever really lock into it. He prays, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will". This particular part is recorded in 3 of the 4 gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. He prays this a couple of times. I'm no Bible scholar, but, the general accepted interpretation of this is that Jesus is just so at His wits end that His human side of Him doesn't want to go to the cross. He is just praying that there could be another way to open up the door of eternal redemption without Him actually having to go through this suffering and death. Now, that seems perfectly reasonable. I can lock in with that idea and that type of prayer. And, who could blame Him, He knows everything that is going to happen. I imagine that getting beat to a pulp is stressful enough; but knowing you are going to be, down to the last detail before it actually happens has got to be more so.

So, Jesus prays this. And of course God responds to Him and tells Him He needs to keep going. And He does it. Like I said, I read over this a multitude of times, and that is the general conclusion I come to. Maybe sometimes i'm more emotional with it, more heartache, maybe less, maybe none. Nevertheless, the same conclusion. Is there anything else to gain from this part of His prayer.....

YES....Jesus' choice

Now, my initial Christianese response (It doesn't matter if that is a word or not, you understand). Jesus pushed through, because He was choosing to die for us, for me. He did it because He loves us. But, is that what really went down. We can't say for sure. Jesus does love us, but He loves His Father more. Now, it actually seems like Jesus was really ready to give up on us, give up on me. Well, He WAS ready to. The only thing that kept Him going was His Father, God. It took God to remind Him that He sent Him to do it. And Jesus needed to follow through with His Father's command, His will ("...not my will, but your will be done..."). If it were left up to Jesus alone, He probably would have backed out of the deal.

At this point, I'm sure I got a load of Christians pretty mad. I just told you that Jesus may have backed out of going to the cross and saving you. The flood of feelings that swell up thinking about it is enough to probably stop you from reading on. A few years ago, I would have stopped my thought there. The gospel, though, keeps me blogging on.

So, back on track, Jesus just may have backed out. God essentially says "No, I sent you to do this." Jesus being "sent" is the key to this. He was sent, he didn't necessarily "choose" to come and do this. Don't believe me.... let's review the standard, but often removed from context, pillar verse for Christians....John 3:16. I'm not gonna type it. Get a Bible out. God "gave" His son. That is an implied, sent. If you don't like things implied, read John 3:17. SENT.

Back to the garden. Jesus did this because of His Father. God sent Him because of His love, grace, mercy, but ultimately and actually for HIS glory. The implications of this are interesting to say the least and lead into a host of theological topics and debates. But, what does such a thing mean for us as followers of Jesus.

I don't believe that I just chose Jesus one day and became a Christian and that's it. I believe that Jesus moved in me first and my spirit had to respond to His moving. I'm a Christian because Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, moves in me to redeem my life, and if I want to live a life honoring and glorifying God, I need to do what He wants me to do. Jesus examples this here, not for an example's sake, but a real life move that forces me to think God's will first. Jesus didn't necessarily choose the cross. But, by the time He got to the garden, His mind was as far away from choosing it as He could be. But, He chose to follow His fathers will. God's will was the cross. If God at ANY point in Jesus' life told Him to be done with His journey and walk away, Jesus would have done it. He had to ("...Father, Your will be done..."). He was in the business of God. He would choose His Father's will.

This is why Abraham was going to sacrifice Isaac. And, if you don't believe that Abraham was actually going to go through with it, you need to read that story again (Genesis 22) in conjunction with Hebrews 11:17-19. It was simply that God said so. God commanded Him to do it and was gonna do it.

This is amazing to me. This type of followship is incredible to me. And it revolves around a single notion. "Because God said so" The depths of this idea about Jesus, the dimensions this comes from, goes so deep it's hard to go much further in just chatting about it. This has to go to my core, my innermost being. This has to be what my spirit responds to. I have to be ready to put my will aside at any given moment for God's will, first. My heart has to fall in love with the Jesus that would choose His Father's will over me over humanity. Not just a Jesus that "loves me". A Jesus, THE Jesus, that follows God's will. My heart has to follow God's will. I guess that would have to be my prayer.... God's will be done.... A prayer to my Lord..... A Lord's Prayer as it may be!


  1. Wow, makes you think a little doesn't it.

    This song kept popping into my head - I like the way they translated it.

    "Wont you take this cup from me
    'cause fear has stolen all my sleep
    if tomorrow means my death
    I pray you'll save their souls with it"

    and the second verse....

    "In this hour of time i see
    who i am is not just me
    so give me strength to die myself,
    so love can live to tell the tale"


  2. Great thoughts. It is very mind blowing from what we think and learn as Christians. I know God does love us, but ultimately he is about glorifying himself. Great points. Love you. But seriously, change that picture. That is an awful picture of me.