Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Easter: The Obedience of Christ

For the past couple of weeks, I've been going through IF:Equip's Easter study, working through the last moments of Jesus' life, His death, and His resurrection. It's not a new story to me, I grew up hearing these passages. And yet, each time I come to it (or any part of Scripture), I am taught a new lesson, as though I were reading it for the very first time.

This time, I am struck by the total obedience of Jesus to the will of God the Father. He models it throughout His entire time on earth, constantly submitting to the Father, but to me it is most striking as He goes to His death.

Moments before He is arrested by a mob, Jesus goes into the garden of Gethsemane to pray. He is sorrowful, distressed, and troubled--He knows what's coming--and asks His disciples to watch and pray with Him. But they are tired and fall asleep. He goes a little farther into the garden alone, falls to the ground and prays, "Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me." (Mark 14:36)

In this moment, we see what Jesus wants: to have the cup removed from Him, that there would be some other way. I know we can all relate to this feeling, knowing what we want and asking for it is never hard for us. We are fueled by our wants and desires. But in the next breath, Jesus shows His wants are ruled by His obedience to God as He says, "Yet not what I will, but what you will." (Mark 14:36)

This moment for me is like a punch in the face. How often do I ask for something without submitting to or even considering God's will? And usually my wants are trivial and small, or sometimes even wrong. Yet here Jesus is facing torture, humiliation, betrayal, rejection, injustice, hatred, excruciating pain, separation from the Father, and death, and He still shows complete obedience saying, "Yet not what I will, but what you will."

The cup doesn't pass from Jesus, yet He remains obedient to God's will. A bogus "trial" is held in which false witnesses come forward to testify against Jesus, yet not once does He speak to defend Himself. (Mark 14:53-72, 15:1-20) He simply submits, knowing that at any moment He could have ended it, He could have walked away. He is obedient through separation from the Father, unto His death. (Mark 15:21-47)

Jesus humbles and challenges me in His obedience. His focus wasn't on what He wanted, but on God's greater plan and His submission to that plan. He knew it would bring the worst kind of pain and suffering, and yet He chose to obey.

To really live like Jesus is to adopt all His attributes, including complete obedience to the Father. To be like Jesus is to let go of all the little things we want in pursuit of God's greater plan. We can be honest about what we want, but in the end Jesus' behavior and words should be our own, "Yet not what I will, but what you will."

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