Praying at Gethsemane • Devotion #4: Not My Will, but Yours, be Done

The story of Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane is told in three of the gospels and referenced in the fourth. Of all these, the way it is written in the book of Luke is my personal favorite. Luke’s telling of the situation is shorter and simpler than the other two books but the wording is beautiful and emphasizes the relationship between Jesus and the Father while focusing less on the conversations between Jesus and His disciples.

The story of Jesus’ prayer in the garden of Gethsemane is a very unique window into Jesus’ character. Nowhere else in the Bible do we see such intense fear come from Jesus. Jesus faced trials and tribulation endlessly during His years of ministry but never does He falter or give a hint of fear or intimidation, even when tempted by Satan. Jesus dreads death so intensely here that His soul is overcome with sorrow so intense that it nearly killed Him (Matthew 26:38; Mark 14:34). He is so afraid that He asks God for an alternative option or a delay. Jesus was master of death and was wholly God, so why did He fear death specifically in this scenario?

Part of His fear was a testament to Jesus’ humanity. While He is wholly God, He is also wholly human. As a man, He desired to obey the will of God while also not wanting to suffer the shame of the cross and all that came with it. Jesus did not fear the physical pain of death. He feared everything that came with it.

The death of Jesus was unlike the death of any other man, woman, or child. Jesus knew that when He died, He would be paying the full wages of sin for all of humanity. He understood that this meant bearing the judgment of God. In 2 Corinthians 5:21, it says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”Jesus became sin knowing full well this meant separation from God. Isaiah 59:2 tells us as much, “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.”

Jesus desperately and sincerely pleaded with God for another path. In my opinion, one of the most beautiful passages of the Bible is Luke 22:42 says: “Saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.’” What an incredible thing to say and what a beautiful glimpse into the heart of Jesus. Jesus is pleading, saying if there is any other way, please do it. He is desperate to not incur the wrath of God. He understands the pain and torment He will receive. He understands the isolation He will experience. Yet he chose to follow God’s will.

“Nevertheless” – what a beautiful word. Jesus asks for a way out but He says if there is no other way, He will choose to follow God’s will despite everything that comes with it. What a beautiful mindset to have. Make your request known to God, yet be willing to submit to His will even if the answer is no. This is a tough mindset to have nowadays. If you are at all like me, it can feel like God is ignoring or unloving when my prayers are not answered the way I wanted.

Jesus ends His prayer by saying, “Not my will, but yours, be done.” Jesus, who was equally God, ends His prayer in submission to God. He trusted the Father with everything. How many of us live in submission to God and are willing to end our prayers, “Not my will, but yours, be done?” How many of us hesitate to relinquish that control and submit that authority to God? Are you willing to trust in God’s will and have faith in Him enough to end your prayers, “Not my will, but yours, be done?”

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