Wanting and Living the Will of God


May 3, 1998 ~ Pickering Standard Church


Matthew 26:36-46 - Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked Peter. "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." He went away a second time and prayed, "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done." When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!"


There is an attitude of Jesus that is shown this passage that has always amazed me. We read here of Jesus, scant hours before His death by crucifixion, praying for His sacrifice to be avoided if it is possible and yet subordinating Himself to the will of God His Father. We are told in Luke something of the great pressure Jesus was under:


Luke 22:44 - And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.


Throughout His whole earthly life and ministry Jesus knew that He would die.


Matthew 20:17-19 - Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, "We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!"


He knew when. He knew how it would happen. He knew the pain He would feel as He was tortured, mocked, belittled, and crucified. He knew that He would cry out those heart rending words:


Matthew 27:46 - About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice... "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"


as the God He had faithfully served all of His life abandoned Him. He knew all that His ministry and sacrifice required, He knew that He would suffer as no man has ever suffered. Yet when He asks His God to relieve Him of this burden He tells God that He is willing to do His will regardless of the personal cost.


We Christians in our culture today, looking back over twenty centuries to the events here described, tend to forget or fail to realize that Jesus gave Himself completely to His Father's will even though He knew it would hurt Him. We look back and think that just as Jesus knew he was going to die so He knew He would rise from death and we think that somehow that knowledge would ease the agony of death. We too know that we will rise from the dead, how do we feel today about dying? We think of Jesus as a man who didn't suffer human feelings as we do, for He is God after all, but we are told in Hebrews that:


Hebrews 2:18 - Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.


Jesus was as human as we are. Did He want to die? Evaluating His prayer we find that He didn't. Was He willing to die? Evaluating His prayer again we discover that He was willing to die. Why? Jesus' primary desire in His life was to do the will of His Father. That desire to please God overwhelmed all other desires because pleasing God was more important to Him than anything else, God's pleasure was His goal in life. In the Psalms a prophecy is made which reports Him as saying:


Psalm 40:8 - I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.


This verse conveys the idea that all Jesus' human desires were subjected to His desire to please His God. His delight, or His joy, was to do the will of God. Elsewhere in the Psalms we read:


Psalm 16:8-11 - I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.


It is here that we see one of the reasons why Jesus loved doing God's will more than preserving His temporary earthly life. He knew that His life continued only if it were built upon God Himself. The fact that Jesus had been tempted by the devil indicates that it was possible for Him to fail in His mission, He needed to continue in God's will if He were to succeed in His work of salvation. He succeeded because of His dependence on His God. Jesus was able to look beyond His death, beyond His abandonment by God, to see His resurrection and glorification.


John 16:28 - I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.


He could look and see through His glorification the salvation and resurrection of His followers:


Hebrews 2:6-9 - But there is a place where someone has testified: "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet." In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.


Hebrews 5:7-9 - During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him


In our Sunday School this morning we learned that we should be imitators of Christ, imitating His love for us in our love for others.


Ephesians 5:2 - Live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.


Jesus' love for us carried Him to the cross. He went to the cross willingly because that was God's will for Him. How about you, do you know what God's will is for you? Do you know that it is God's will that you love your neighbour?


Matthew 22:37-40 - Jesus replied: "‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."


Did you know that it is primarily through our love for others that they will be given the gospel from us and that our love for them, or its lack, will often be instrumental in their accepting or rejecting it. It was the hallmark of early Christianity that they shared of what they had with each other.


Acts 2:42-46 - They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,


When these believers were persecuted for their faith we read time and time again that they rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for Jesus and they continued to do those things for which they were being persecuted.


Acts 5:40-42 - They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.


In these lives we see the same attitude that was in Christ Jesus, the attitude that it is better in this life to endure hardship at the hand of man and remain faithful to God than it is to get all that is possible out of this life to enjoy and be a stranger to God. They delighted to do the will of God.


Is it your delight to do the will of God? Most of us will say "Yes" to that question, but what if we ask a second question: Is it your delight to do the will of God if His will causes you pain, or if His will means that your pride will be insulted, or if His will results in you not being able/permitted to do your own will? How many of us would say "Yes" to that question now? Jesus said "Yes" to that question as well and it cost Him His life. It has been said before that being a Christian is not a thing we are it is a thing we do. Jesus tells us time and again that if we do Christianity faithfully we will be hated by the world:


John 15:18-21 - If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: "No servant is greater than his master." If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.


The reason that the world will hate us should be reassuring; It is because when we serve God we show that we no longer belong to the world but rather belong to God. Jesus in the passage above sets a contrast between the world loving those who belong to it and hating those who will have no part of it. The difference between the two is Jesus Christ. When we place all our trust in Him we are removed from the list of citizens of the world and placed on the list of citizens of the Kingdom of God, our allegiance has been changed, we no longer serve the world and its desires but we serve our God and King and His desires. Thus, if we are part of the Kingdom of God instead of being of the world, the world then can have no ultimate power over us since we do not belong to it but belong to God.


Matthew 10:28 - Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.


Let us be encouraged then to faithfully love as God has called us to love, following in the footsteps of Jesus who died for His love for us and won the final victory over death. Through His life, death, and resurrection we have hope of an eternity with God regardless of what the world does to us.