Mark 14:32-42 | The Will Of God


The Will Of God


Mark 14:32-42

Key Verse 14:36


“’Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’”


On the last evening before his crucifixion, Jesus spent time with his disciples in an upper room. He talked with them about many things. Among them was the blood covenant he made with them that evening, binding himself with them and them with him. What he was about to do for them was to fulfill a promise God had made. Jesus had come to fulfill that promise God had made with all of us. He had come to break the hold of sin in our lives. He had come to deliver us from the condemnation of sin. No one can escape sin’s condemnation— nor the judgment that follows. Jesus came to deliver us. But to do so he had to shed his blood and die. Deliverance does not happen automatically. It happens when a person understands and acknowledges that he needs God’s forgiveness, that he has offended God. It happens then when that person accepts the blood that was shed on the cross for his sins. It happens when that person repents and turns his life over to God. Jesus came to make that covenant possible. On that night with his disciples, he broke bread with them, and passed the cup which symbolized his suffering and death. He was offering them himself. And in receiving him, they were accepting his sacrifice. It was the beginning of the history of salvation that was passed down to us. Today Jesus extends his covenant of forgiveness and salvation to anyone who wants to be freed from the power of sin at work in their lives. He extends it to anyone who wants to escape the judgment of God. That is the love that transcends all things we know. That God should give us his Son, to avert his own judgment from us.


After Jesus finished the Last Supper with his disciples, he went to the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed. It was one of the most heart moving prayers ever recorded in history. “{Abba}, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (14:36) Let’s read it together. And again just to get the depth of it. This is where Jesus poured out his soul to his Father. This is also where he submitted his will to the will of his Father God. And I’m not sure how much we understand this. This whole week I have been thinking about Jesus’ words, “Take this cup from me” and “Yet not what I will, but what you will”. The words, “Take this cup from me” shows how difficult the will of God must have been for Jesus to accept. And “Yet not what I will, but what you will” show Jesus’ innermost desire to fulfill the will of God in his life— to fulfill God’s purpose for him. This is not his divine nature battling in the garden, but his humanity, for he struggled in the garden as a man not as a god. All week I have been thinking about the importance of what Jesus accomplished here for himself, and for us. And what it is we can learn from it.


I’ve been thinking how most Christians don’t know what the will of God for them is! And how some never take the time to even consider what the will of God for them is— so how can they know whether it is difficult or not. How so many Christians today don’t know what its like to struggle to obey the will of God. They don’t ever reach a point in their Christian life where they can understand that it is actually difficult— sometimes impossible— to obey the will of God. And that it actually requires submission— and many times even painful surrender— often even much sacrifice. Yes, the will of God often does! How can we read or study this passage and then witness the Son of man struggling to surrender his will to the will of God and actually understand what’s going on! And then be blessed— because that’s what God wants to do— bless us! And how can we mature in a way that can change our lives!


In one sense we need to desire this more than anything else in life— that is— we need to desire more than anything else in our lives to surrender my will to the will of God— and for many reasons. Because I know that then and only then will I be able to glorify God in my life— and that is my sole purpose of living— and nothing else— that is, to glorify God in my life. It’s not to make money, or live a happy life, or for people to like me, or to be successful, or to build churches, or to heal people, or to raise the dead, or to marry the man or woman of my dreams, or be the evangelist of the century, or the famed writer of the decade, or the ultimate theologian, or a doctor for the poor of the land…. And. That’s not my sole purpose of life. It is to glorify God. And unless I do that, my life is wasted, even if I have lived a most remarkable life and accomplished most remarkable things. And yes, even a Christian can live a remarkable Christian life and still not be in obedience to the will of God— and therefore not fulfill his or her purpose — and therefore not glorify God in his or her life. So, I must desire to surrender my will to the will of God more than anything else in life. What Jesus did that night, he battled. He struggled. He fought. He wanted to make sure that he is ready to fulfill his purpose to God. He wanted to make sure he gives his will to the will of God. And in submitting to the will of God, he fulfilled his purpose. He glorified God. He saved our lives. And he also left us a legacy. As he had always been saying: “Follow me” among other things.


So I must desire this then, to submit my will to the will of God, and to finally fulfill my purpose in life. But how can I when we live in a Christian culture that undermines everything that the Lord said and did? How can I when it is hard to understand the anguish of my Lord on the night he battled to submit his will to the will of the Father? How can the Christian of today understand this if he has not desired even a little bit to know what the will of God is in his own life? How can he share this moment of anguish with the Lord if he has not tried to struggle even a little bit with the Lord’s will in his life and then dared to surrender his will to it? Here’s an example. Jesus taught us Christians that “Anyone who would come after me must deny himself, pick up his cross and follow me” and he taught us many similar things. But we have a habit of dismissing the uncomfortable and the unpleasant until such words become almost meaningless. When was the last time someone denied or sacrificed themselves? Denied their own “ways” or “their ideas” or “their pride” or “their hurts” because they knew God wills them to? Jesus came preaching repentance and many such things. When was the last time we genuinely repented with a change of heart, asked forgiveness, forgiven others, embraced those we despised, or humbled ourselves and loved someone we have avoided, or repented of ungratefulness— seriously from the heart or showed the love of Christ to someone who needs encouragement, or spent time with someone who desperately needs you— all because it is the will of God? That’s what struggling to obey the will of God is all about. Submission to the will of God is not easy. It is difficult. It is sometimes impossible. But it is necessary if we are to mature inwardly and grow to fulfill the purpose for which God made us.


Jesus agonized that night. The gospels tell us that he struggled all night until he surrendered his will to the will of God. I wondered when was the last time we genuinely struggled to find the will of God and then struggled to obey it and submit to it? How can we if we are so completely absorbed in our own will— with what I want— until I fool myself and begin to think that what I want is what God wants. So many Christians think that. They go here and there, and they say it’s the will of God. They do this and that and they say it’s the will of God. The will of God is mostly difficult. Just look at Jesus in the garden! It goes against our desires. It confronts our selfishness. It rebukes our pride. It challenges us. It calls us to transcend the human level and to be the noble saints God has called us to be. It tells us to stop being earth bound and to rise to be what God had called you to be. We have a purpose. We have a purpose to glorify God. Until we glorify God in our lives, we have not fulfilled our purpose. But we cannot glorify God until we have learned to submit to the will of God. So how do we do that?


Look at Jesus in the garden. Look sat the beautiful Lord Jesus agonizing. We have borne all the fruit of his labor. To begin with Jesus, in all his majesty and grace, has already done it for us. He labored for us. He did so on our behalf. He obeyed the will of God because we could not. But in doing so, he showed us the way of life— life in the will of God— life in submission to the will of God. God promised that he would help us. But that does not mean that we do not search out the will of God. The will of God is as plain as sunshine— usually right in the word of God. Sincere Christians who read their Bibles usually know the will of God in all kinds of different situations. “Our Father in heaven hallowed be your name”, tells the Christian who is listening to God’s voice that it is the will of God that God’s name be honored and glorified. “Love one another”, tells us that it is the will of God that we love one another. Individually, in our daily lives, what to study, what college to go to, what job to take, all these things are important but not as important as the desire to glorify God. “How can I glorify you Lord” is the question? When I set my heart on glorifying God— that is, when I have disciplined myself to do so through prayer and the Holy Spirit has helped me— set my heart on God’s glory— then such day to day decisions become easy to answer. God inspires you, and leads you according to his purpose. For the most part, they may not be easy to obey or submit to— because the will of God might go against what I want to do. But God our Father helps us as he helped Jesus to submit to his will. That is our assurance. God really understands that in our hearts, we want to cry out “Take this cup away from me”.  But it should never stop there. The prayer of a Christian should always end, “Not my will but your will.” “Father, Your will be done”.


Look at verses 37-42. The disciples should have stayed up with him, at least on this evening, for they knew he was agonizing. Jesus said to Peter his top disciple and friend, “Could you not keep watch for one hour?” But Jesus did not judge them even though they were unable to stay up and keep him company on this most difficult of nights. Rather in verse 38 Jesus counseled them to stay up and pray so that they might not fall into temptation. He understood that their spirits were willing but their bodies were weak, subject to physical limitations. Later when he came back he saw them asleep again, and said “enough”. They had not prayed as he had told them to. They were not ready as he had been when the hour of darkness came. Jesus was now ready to surrender to the will of God in giving his life on the cross. And his disciples were ready to run away into the night. After his death and resurrection, and the coming of the Holy Spirit upon them, these very disciples followed in Jesus’ footsteps. They each surrendered their lives to the will of God. They each fulfilled their unique and given purpose in God. They each glorified God in their lives. May God extend this grace and blessing to each one of you as well.

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