Submission to God’s Will

Submission to God’s Will

And as in all areas of Christian discipleship, Jesus gives us the perfect example of what this looks like. In particular, His prayer to His Father in the garden of Gethsemane shows us the way. Jesus’ words on the night He was betrayed are some of His most remembered, as He prays “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matt. 26:39). I want us to examine these words carefully because they give us three important insights into living in submission to the will of God.

The first thing to notice about Jesus’ example is how they express His relationship with His Father. This is a dynamic relationship in which Jesus talks with His Father, makes requests of His Father, and expresses His desires and fears to His Father as He walks through life.

It is significant, I think, that Christ has talked of His coming death throughout the Gospels. He has even said that the whole reason He came was to give His life as a ransom for many. So, given how completely His mission and identity as an incarnate man are tied to His death, it might be surprising that Jesus would pray here, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me” (Matt. 26:39). But surely this is nothing less than an honest prayer as the cross looms right ahead. This is an example of Jesus, in His humanity, laying His heart bare before His father in perfect holiness as He stares suffering in the face. That honest dialogue is part of Jesus’ relationship with His Father, and such regular dialogue should be found in us, too, as we navigate the details of our lives in relationship with our heavenly Father.

The second thing to notice about Jesus’ example is how quickly and repeatedly He expresses His willingness to submit to His Father’s will. In Matthew’s account of Jesus’ prayer in the garden, Jesus prays three separate times. And all three times Christ prays, He ends each prayer with the same thought: “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will. . . . Your will be done” (Matt. 26:39, 42).

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