Day 123: When God says ‘No’

Luke 22:39-53 (spring AD 30, Thursday night of Passion Week)

“[Jesus] withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’ An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (v.43-44)

Some parts of the Bible startle because of miraculous events taking place, or we can scarcely comprehend what a shattering experience it would have been to live through. There are amazing moments, too, of love and compassion. But I don’t know of any other couple of verses that I linger on every time I read them, trying to wrap my head around the depths of feeling and the significance. We’ll spend two days in these verses.

Here we have Jesus Christ, Lord of Creation, Son of God, God himself, pleading with his Father for a different plan, and being told, ‘No’.

Notice first, Christ’s physical and spiritual posture before God the Father: he “knelt down and prayed”. This is total submission – a recognition of the superior authority of the person he was in front of, even though in this case, the Father and the Son are, as Jesus said, One with each other and both equally God. It’s an example of why Jesus taught his disciples to pray to the Father, and not to himself or the Holy Spirit, because it’s the Father who makes the decisions. Jesus asked for something and explicitly acknowledged his Father’s right to say ‘No’. Furthermore, he said that God’s will being done wass more important than a ‘Yes’ being granted.

And it wasn’t simply a reactive submission but a proactive prioritizing of God’s glory and will over EVERYTHING else. Jesus was staring into the abyss of indescribable torment, which he REALLY didn’t want to go through, but it mattered more to him that his Father’s will be done.

A dog, firmly spoken to, will wear an abashed and submissive look, but their submission is entirely reactive. What WE are called to is an open expression of our feelings and desires before God…put into their proper place.

What do you pray for your children, or your close friends or family? What do you go to the throne of grace to beg God for on behalf of yourself and those you love? Ask God for a growing work of the Holy Spirit in your attitudes so that God’s glory is the highest desire for your life and the lives of those you love. There is no higher calling, and there is no place that more glory may be found, than a life lived for the glory and will of God. Submission to that, and to Him, is the joyful apex of our existence.

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