Have you ever had to do something you really didn’t want to do? Maybe you’re facing a situation like that right now. Everything within you wants to run and hide, but you know you have to face this and deal with it. You would rather God just make it all disappear, but he isn’t, so you’re left to go through that which you don’t want to go through.
Not that our situation could possibly compare to Jesus’ sufferings, but he knows exactly how it feels to know you have to do something you’re afraid of. He knows what it feels like to wish it could be different, but know it’s not changing. He knows what it’s like to pray you are spared from going through the worst, but still having to go through it.
Did you know Jesus prayed and asked for another way besides the cross? Did you know he was fearful of what was to come? Did you know he wept to the point of nearly dying before the first nail was driven into his hand? Jesus didn’t joyfully hop and skip his way to the cross. He wasn’t spared the pain and agony. But even knowing the torture that was ahead, and knowing there was no other way to save you and me, he willingly went.
What was Jesus doing on this day before he was crucified? Tomorrow is Good Friday, the day we remember Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for us, but what about today? What was he doing today, the Thursday before Easter?
He was celebrating with his friends.
He and his disciples had gathered to celebrate the Passover. The Passover was a celebration of how God had saved the first born of the Israelites when destruction passed through Egypt and their babies died. The destruction had literally “passed over” their homes and spared their children. This was the final plague that convinced Pharaoh to let the Israelites free from their 400 years in captivity.
So on the final full day of Jesus’ life, he was celebrating what God had done. He was remembering the power of the Almighty to save and rescue.
Oh my sister, this is a lesson for us today. Even when you are facing certain hardship, remember to praise God for what he has already done. Remembering what he has done for you in the past will strengthen you to face what is next.
What has God already done for your family? What destruction has “passed over” you and you’re here today only as a result of God’s protection and provision? Won’t you celebrate that? Never forget all he has done to bring you here. You’re walking around with proof of his miraculous works. Let that carry you into whatever may come next.
What else was Jesus doing on his final full day of life? After the celebration dinner, he went to the garden and began praying. Do you know what Jesus prayed? This is important my sister, because Jesus is teaching us how to pray through our hardest of times. He’s teaching us how to deal with the things we do not understand and wish could be different.
Matthew 26: 36-39 “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.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 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.”
The cup Jesus refers to is the suffering. While Jesus was fully God, he was also fully human. As humans, suffering is instinctively avoided. Nobody wants to suffer. Suffering gets zero stars from this girl. So Jesus is asking, can the suffering be avoided in any way Father? Can you accomplish your will in me without this suffering? But if you cannot, then your will over my own.
Can you pray that prayer? Lord, your will over my own. There are things I deeply want to avoid in this life. Things I really, really, really don’t want to go through. If at all possible, can we not go through suffering? But God, if your good plans can only unfold through the suffering, then not as I will, but as you will.
Whew, that’s a tough prayer to pray and I’m still working on it. I’m not quite there yet. But this is the example of Jesus, and look at what his obedience has done for us. Because of his submission to God’s will, even if that meant suffering, we are forever forgiven, redeemed, and considered righteous to sit beside him in paradise for an eternity!
Did you know Jesus prayed this prayer 3 times on his final night of life? Yes, three times he asked God if this cup of suffering could be taken from him. And three times he surrendered to God’s will over his own.
Is it okay for you to ask God to remove your hardship? Absolutely! You ask him! Keep asking him! There’s power in prayer and that’s exactly why Jesus prayed. But we must trust when God doesn’t remove the thing that you want to avoid, that it’s for a greater purpose than you can possibly see right now.
Sis, I don’t know what you’re going through. I don’t know how you may be suffering. I don’t know what kept you awake last night. I don’t know what trouble is brewing on the horizon. But I know the prayer to pray over it. “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
After Jesus prayed 3 times, he was betrayed by Judas and then arrested. One of the men with Jesus defended him by heroically pulling out his sword and cutting off the ear of one that had arrested Jesus. But guess what Jesus says next? Check this out. Matthew 26: 52-54 “Put your sword back in its place … Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”
Oh my goodness gracious, Jesus knew he could avoid this suffering. He knew he could call down angels to rescue him, but he had fully submitted to God’s will. He was all in for the plans God had. He had prayed about it, and he knew he had to go through it. So he had decided to go through it.
Did God have the power to stop all of this? Absolutley, and Jesus knew that. But Jesus didn’t grow bitter over it. He surrendered fully and trusted God’s plan to not stop the suffering would fulfill a greater purpose than saving him from the suffering.
That’s a hard pill to swallow, but one we are asked to take sometimes. I don’t understand why, but where is faith if we always understand?
This is the example of our Jesus! This is what we strive for! We pray and we ask if there’s another way, but we submit to God’s will over our own. And if God’s will doesn’t align with what we would want, then we go ahead and accept his plan and submit to it rather than fight it. Why? Because we know that God surely sees and knows things we cannot see or comprehend, and his will is always eternally grounded in goodness.
So, that’s what Jesus did on this final full day of life.
He celebrated what God had already done.
He prayed to avoid suffering if possible, but submitted to God’s will over his own.
And he went all in for God’s plans.
And look at what his willingness has afforded us! We’re on our way to Heaven girls!
What will our willingness do for someone else? How could God work through our prayer of ‘not my will, by yours Lord’? I don’t even know, but I’m in … aren’t you?