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God’s Word for You

Luke 22:41-42 Your will be done

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, April 5, 2019

41 Then he withdrew about a stone’s throw away from them, knelt down, and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me. Yet, not my will but yours be done.”

Luke condenses some of the incidents of this night. The “stone’s throw” distance was how far Jesus took Peter, James and John from the other eight. From there, Matthew tells us that he went another “little distance” (μικρόν) from the three, and there he prayed. Luke tells us that Jesus knelt to pray, but Matthew adds that later on, Jesus “fell with his face to the ground.” But Jesus’ prayer was essentially the same words, probably spoken in different ways more than once, and at more than one volume. “Take this cup from me. But your will, not my will, be done.” So much of what took place on this Thursday has direct connections to the Lord’s Prayer! A lifetime of study cannot grasp the depth of our Lord’s words and works.

Here we have the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, whose will is equal to and matches that of God the Father in every way, and yet as true man he sets aside his agony over what was happening. He must pray. He cannot help but pray. His prayers will continue onto the cross, as three of the seven things he said from there are prayers to the Father.

It was not that Jesus was afraid of the more difficult path. He had been taking the more difficult path his whole ministry; his whole life. It wasn’t that Jesus was afraid of dying, or of physical pain. Jesus knew that to suffer for our sins meant suffering the agony of hell. In all of Scripture, Jesus Christ is the only person whose words tell us the full force of the agony of hell. He understood, while still living, how terrible a place hell is, how horrifying an experience eternity in hell is; how agonizing the very thought hell is and should be for any one of us.

If we don’t fear hell, then we don’t know what hell is. Hell is the unending torture and torment of all who reject Christ. Hell is spiritual suffering, mental suffering, emotional suffering, and yes, hell is also physical suffering. Hell is suffering with no end, with no rest, with no relief. Some of our young people attend universities where they are told to consider concepts like heaven and hell as fables; their professors will have a greater agony in hell than the students they lead astray. Some of our friends and relatives belong to churches that have decided that, in their opinion, God could never condemn anyone to hell. Their agony in hell will be worse still.

Jesus tells us that there are degrees of hell; levels of suffering. “Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you” (Luke 10:13-14).

Jesus’ prayer is understood by readers in two ways. One of the them is impossible, and therefore the other is the only possibility. The first is that Jesus was asking God to somehow accomplish the redemption of the world, the atonement for mankind’s sins, through some other means than for Jesus to have to suffer the agony of hell and then to die. The second is that Jesus was asking for the Father to abandon the world; to leave it alone without redemption; to save Jesus by condemning the entire world to damnation. Since it is impossible for God to abandon his creation, the first option is the only option as the true intent of the Savior’s prayer. He was asking for the great Task of the Redeemer to be accomplished in some other way—but only if God’s will permitted it.

Since Jesus did indeed suffer the penalty for our sins, we know that the Father’s answer to the Son’s prayer was “No.” This is a great comfort to me when I am waiting for an answer to my own prayers. Why? If God could say no to his own Son in order for his plan to bring about mankind’s salvation to happen, then who am I to expect that God wouldn’t say no to some of my prayers? If God gives me a ‘no’ answer, then I am in good company. I stand shoulder to shoulder with my Savior Jesus, and I am able to face the future knowing that what takes place does so for my good even though I don’t always understand why. I know that my Father in heaven loves me, that he does not merely indulge me, but that he has a definite, distinct plan for me and for his beloved, created world, and I and my prayers are a part of that. His mercy endures forever.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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