This headline caught my attention the other day in a post by Jay Richardson on the Denison Forum.
Do you want to follow all Of God’s commands? Jesus didn’t either.
At first, I brushed it off as being ridiculous. Of course, Jesus wanted to follow all of the Father’s commands. But then I read it. And was given a different perspective.
Richardson points out that in Gethsemane’s garden in the shadow of the cross Jesus fervently prayed, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”
In his fine commentary on Luke, C. G. (Colly) Caldwell, points out that “the cup” metaphorically refers to the impeding suffering Jesus would endure on the cross. He observes that Jesus’ request is “obviously promoted by the human anguish of the moment.” Then adds, “In this human moment, Jesus wished to escape the suffering if only God could set it aside and accomplish His purpose otherwise.”
Jesus’ struggle is the classic battle between the flesh and the spirit. (Gal. 5: 17-18). It’s the conflict between fleshly feelings that seek their satisfaction and a spiritual passion that pursues a more noble purpose. However, like the temptations of Satan in the wilderness 3 years earlier, Jesus relied on the will and Word of God to overcome what he felt to fulfil the Father’s purpose.
The key to victory in this struggle was Jesus’ willingness to say “not my will, but yours be done.”
That spirit depicts an attitude of humility, submission, surrender, and sacrifice. It issues itself in obedience. And is a demonstration of the old hymn that says, “None of Self and All of Thee.” It is that disposition the Bible says we should possess. “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5).
So, have you ever struggled with obeying God’s commands?
I’ve heard folks say, “Preacher, I know what the Bible says, but……” At that point the battle begins. The spirit says one thing, but the flesh is feeling something different. It’s an inner conflict between what we want, and what we know God commands. It’s our human nature fighting against our spiritual nature.
From this scene in Gethsemane’s garden, we can learn 3 things.
1. Temptation is not a sin.
Jesus was tempted. And so are we. Don’t feel guilty when you feel the enticement to do something you shouldn’t do. Or not do something that you should do. It’s part of being human.
2. At times, everyone struggles.
Jesus’ struggled in agony. “His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Lk. 22:44). Pastors, preachers, parents and all Christians experience conflicts between the flesh and the spirit.
Have you ever struggled with the command…
- To forgive others? (Matt. 6:13-14).
- To flee youth lusts? (2 Tim. 2:22).
- To be patient with people? (1 Thess. 5:14).
- To honor rulers? (1 Pet. 2:17).
- To abstain from all forms of evil? (1 Thess. 5:22).
- To love your enemies? (Matt. 5:43-48)
- To rejoice in suffering and trials (1 Pet. 4:12-13).
- To overcome self-ambition? (Phil. 2:3-4).
- To accept God’s will for your life?(Lk. 22:42).
Yes, we all struggle on various occasions with right and wrong. Good and evil. God’s will and our fleshly desires.
#3 Take your struggles to God’s throne.
Jesus prayed. Then Luke says, “he prayed more earnestly.” Matthew records that Jesus prayed three times. Barclay observes that Jesus’ address to God as “Abba, Father, is a word a child used to address his father. It speaks of a child-like trust and an familial feeling of intimacy.
Are you struggling? Pray. Reverently. Fervently. And Earnestly. With child-like faith. You can come boldly to the God’s throne of grace, because you have Jesus’ as your intercessor (Heb. 4:14-16). He knows how you feel. He relates to your struggle. He feels your pain. Your hurt. And your agony.
Indeed “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41). When you struggle go to Gethsemane. There you will find help. Hope. Comfort. And courage. And the strength to say, “Your will be done.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman
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