Being Maundy Thursday, I took time to read about Jesus at Gethsemane.
Each time I reflect on this account, I am particularly encouraged by how Jesus was described as being sorrowful, troubled, deeply distressed, in agony and in anguish (Matt 26:37; Mark 14:33; Luke 22:44).
Don’t get me wrong. I am not a sadist, delighting in Jesus’ pain and suffering in the garden. No. I am encouraged because His experience gives me permission to acknowledge these emotions without feeling that I am of little faith, or that these are simply not allowed since Christians are only supposed to be strong, courageous and victorious. As such, we must always be happy and clappy, shouting hallelujahs and amens.
Thank God for Jesus. Although He was fully God, He was also fully human. On the night before His crucifixion, the Son of Man wrestled big time (Hebrews 5:7). Jesus was distressed and anxious. In fact, the agony or anguish that He experienced is likened to the fear or jitters an athlete feels before a major competition or fight.
Dear friends, it’s ok to express your God-given emotions authentically. To be sorrowful, anxious and distressed in a difficult situation is perfectly in order. That said, the story doesn’t end here.
Here’s a key we must not miss: Emotions are fine so long as we are not ruled by them or allow them to distract and detract us from the purposes of God and our kingdom assignments.
I know it may be difficult to accept this but Jesus experienced fear in Gethsemane. Jesus feared? Yes. But the good news is that He didn’t allow His emotions to keep Him from His kingdom assignment. Thank God for Jesus!
Read on to see what enabled Him to keep moving forward.
Even as Jesus wrestled and petitioned, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me;” He said, “nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matt 26:39).
I know this phrase well but this morning, one word gripped my heart – nevertheless. Although it can be substituted with however or yet, the Holy Spirit caused me to read it in a different way:
Never the less. Always the more.
Simply, God’s will must always mean more to me than my own desires and preferences. When faced with a decision between what I’d prefer and what the Lord says, His words will always weigh more and have the greater priority. Put another way,
God’s purposes must always have precedence over my preferences.
These days, it is all too easy to buy into a “God understands” theology. After all, since it’s all about grace, why sweat it? Doesn’t God want us to have a good time and a nice life? And when it comes to kingdom assignments, if you don’t like it or enjoy it, surely, it cannot be of the Lord. Really?
In Gethsemane, Jesus sweat blood as He braced Himself for His kingdom assignment – the Cross. It was not because it would be fun or that He would operate from His talents and giftings. He accepted the assignment because He considered the Father’s will always the more, never the less, than His own will and preferences.
Considering this, I have much to repent of. There is still much that I regard more and higher than the purposes of God. If I truly desire to be like Jesus, to grow and mature into His image, then I too want to be able to say in each and every decision – nevertheless.