Not My Will, But Thine
The night our Lord was betrayed into the hands of the enemy, He stepped into the darkness of Gethsemane to face the fateful moment of eternal consequence. He left the disciples behind and went a stone's throw ahead to face it alone. No one could have a part in it, not even the disciples. He had to face it all alone. The Father had ordained and sent Him to the world to do His will.
His mission was unmistakably clear to Him. He Himself had said, "The Son of man came to not be ministered unto, but to minister and to give His life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45). Yet when the hour was come for Him to "drink the cup" "He began to be very distressed and troubles." His soul was "exceeding sorrowful unto death." He fell on the ground and prayed that, "If it were possible the hour might pass Him by." The agony of His spirit was so intense that He even prayed, "Father, Father, everything is possible for you. Take away this cup from Me."
And as He prayed "He broke into a sweat of blood, with great drops falling to the ground." He could have silently walked away from that moment of historic decision, if He had wanted to. But He was determined and willing to abide by the will of His Father who had sent Him. So He prayed, "…nevertheless not as I will but as Thou wilt" (Mark 14:36). That settled it. When He accepted His Father's will gladly He was already on the cross in spirit. Now it was only a matter of realizing it in His body on the wooden cross at Calvary.
Calvary was the aftermath of Gethsemane. What happened at Calvary was only the inevitable outcome of what happened at Gethsemane. There would have been no cross without Gethsemane. There in Gethsemane the issue was fully and finally settled between the Father and the Son. Therefore He gladly gave Himself up into the hands of those who came to take Him that night. There was no wavering, no resistance, no regrets. It was all done gladly, willingly, knowingly.
When our Lord walked up the rugged road to Calvary with the heavy wooden cross upon His bleeding back, every one thought it was the outcome of some socio-political play. But it was not. No once could ever imagine that things were moving according to God's immaculate plans and the Son was acting in the center of His Father's will.
For the Jewish hierarchy, it was a moment of brutish triumph. For the Roman soldiers, it was an opportunity for devilish excitement. For a small group of men and women who followed and watched the scene, it was a time of agony and tears. But for our Lord it was different altogether. He was carrying out the sweet will of His Father. He was in the final hour of fulfilling the divine plans He had come to fulfill.
Though no man has a share in what our Lord did at Gethsemane and Calvary in the sense and for the purpose He did it, there is a compelling spiritual application of it in our Christian lives. Just as the travail of Gethsemane gave birth to the cross of Calvary it is that fateful moment of absolute surrender and unremitting resolve to do God's will in your "Gethsemane" that produces a real cross in your life, too. No other cross is real.
Gethsemane Precedes Calvary
A Gethsemane should precede Calvary. The cross is nothing but God's will accepted gladly, being fully aware of its consequences. It is not something that is thrust upon us. It is something that we take up ourselves, willingly, knowingly, gladly, for the joy and satisfaction of doing His will. That is what our Lord did.
We should beware of all other illusions of bearing the cross. We read in Luke 23:26, "And as they led Him away they laid hold upon one Simon, of Cyrene, coming from the country and on him they laid the Cross, that He might bear it after Jesus."
The physical distance between Jesus and this Simon was negligible. He was close behind Jesus bearing the cross. But the spirit in which Simon took the cross had nothing in common with how our Lord did it. Simon was forced into bearing the cross, which meant no more than a piece of heavy wood on his unwilling back. The earlier he could get rid of it the happier he would be.
Simon reflects many of us Christians – we who put our back to God's will and bear it as a burden. Just as the cross made no sense to Simon of Cyrene, God's will makes no sense to many of us. Therefore, to our utter amazement, there is no genuine cross in our life. Yes, the will of God gladly accepted is the cross – the real cross in a Christian's life.
Is There a Real Cross in Your Life?
It may be you have never had a "Gethsemane" experience in your life. When the temptation is to walk away from God's specific will in your life, even after knowing it for sure, will you draw near the presence of God and say to Him in total surrender, "Nevertheless not my will, but Your will"?
If you are honest enough to do it, you will be never left alone in your moments of agony. An angel came and strengthened Jesus in His moment of agony in Gethsemane. Yielding to God's will is not easy, but it is the only right way open to a Christian. The moment you surrender to His divine will, the cross is born in you – the real cross. Not until then.
The Lord does not want you to be a "Simon of Cyrene" who made only a mockery of cross bearing. He wants you to follow in His foot steps in the very real sense of it, knowing what you are doing and doing it gladly, willingly.
Look unto Jesus "who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame…" (Heb. 12:2) and walk out of your "Gethsemane" of surrender to follow Him bearing your cross. Will you do it as a gift of gratitude to the Lord?
– All India Prayer Fellowship Bulletin