Thy Will Be Done
October 8, 2006
日本キリスト教団 頌栄教会牧師 清弘剛生 Pastor Takao Kiyohiro, Shoei Church, Church of Christ, Japan
Translator M.A.F., Indiana, USA
1. Before I went into seminary, when I was still a college student, I often got together with Christian friends on the college campus at midnight and we had prayer meetings. Back then, since you could freely use the university seminar room at night, we started out praying together with two friends, but then gradually the group increased. On one of those days I invited one of the college campus Christians to the prayer meeting. Then he said to me, "Why do you pray long like that? I just pray, 'Thy will be done.' For, [God's] will will be done after all." -- (Oh really, he's talking for show if you ask me I wonder...) I just thought that way about it, and I had forgotten it long ago.
2. Soon I entered seminary. Many opportunities came about to pray with other church people. On one of those days, I suddenly recalled his statement. I just pray, 'Thy will be done.' For, [God's] will will be done after all." -- There is no one who speaks as plainly as he [did]. But, I realized that there are a considerable number of people who do readily pray "Thy will be done." Well to tell the truth, I even realized that I myself am that way. We easily think "God's will will be done after all," or "There is no sense in seeking for this or that when it is not God's will," or we talk like that with feelings that resemble half-hearted conviction, any way though, I realized that [statements] like those are not completely lacking [out there]. How do you all [think about this]?
3. Today I read to you from The Gospel According To Mark chapter fourteen and verse twenty-six. From verse thirty-two on down the figure of Jesus in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane is recorded. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed, "But, not what I am asking, but let what is according to your will be performed," (verse thirty-six). It is the prayer "Thy will be done." But, is [that] prayer of ours of "Thy will be done" really the same prayer as the prayer of Christ? If we take them as different, then when is the difference? I would like for us to give this some thoughtful consideration today.
Please Take This Cup Away
4. After the Passover meal, Jesus went out with his disciples to the Mount of Olives and prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. The Bible says at that hour the Lord was terribly afraid and began to agonize. Jesus said to three [disciples], "I am sorrowful to the point of dying. Don't leave here, but stay awake," (14:34), and moving ahead a bit, he began to pray. Lying prostrate on the earth, he prayed that this hour of suffering pass away from him, if possible.
5. Jesus had already spoken several times to his disciples about his passion or time of tremendous suffering. In The Gospel Of Mark it is recorded three times in it. For example, in chapter eight and verse thirty-one it is recorded like this, "After that Jesus began to inform his disciples that the son of man will surely receive much suffering, and be rejected and killed by the elders, chief priests, and the scribes of the law, and will resurrect from the dead after three days." Thus, until now, even though he had come to Jerusalem in acceptance of his being put on the cross, with the crucial moment now here, he had become as disturbed and upset as this. After reading this Gethsemane scene, I think there are quite a few people who feel a surprise.
6. However, the very abnormality of this scene is giving a narration of the immensity of that which had actually been imposed upon Jesus. This is what the Lord prays. "Abba, oh father, you can do anything. Please take this cup away from me." What in the world is "this cup" that he wants him to take away? No doubt it is this -- his being crucified and murdered. But, what that means is not just a death that involves physical and mental agony. No doubt execution by crucifixion was a cruel punishment. But, Jesus Christ was not the only one killed by execution on the cross. Even to that extent, there had definitely been others sentenced to death by crucifixion. Actually two criminals were crucified along with Jesus. And if it's only [in] a sense of physical and mental agony, I think there have probably been others who have died experiencing greater suffering in this world. This thing Jesus calls "this cup" should not be taken as some suffering that someone has already experienced in some like manner.
7. Well, what was "this cup" which was given to Jesus? It was not just that he had died a long death suffering the whole time, but that "he dies judged by God." Of course, there was no need for Christ to be judged by God because of his own sins. He himself did not have sin. He loved God his Father and he lived loving others. He was one with God the Father. He was a holy being. Therefore, it was not his own sins that he had borne upon his shoulders. It was not [his], but our sins. He bore the sins of every single one of us human beings. [His bearing our sins] meant that, instead of every single one of us human beings, he received God's judgment and he was forsaken by God.
8. We flippantly let our lips say things like "he was forsaken by God." We say, "he was punished by God," "he got the punishment he deserved." But, we don't truly know anything about what God's judgment is. We also say things like "I'm sinful." Yet, perhaps in the truest sense, we do not know our sinfulness or anything near it. How ever sinful we might be, if that sin were to be judged righteously we do not know what would happen. We do not know how things would turn out, the results, how we would be forsaken by God. Therefore, we're cooled off about it.
9. He is the one who knew [what] it [meant]. [He knew] what sin is. [He knew] what it meant to bear sin upon himself as a substitute so that sinful people obtain forgiveness. [He knew] how fearsome, how sorrowful, how painful were its effects, [the effects of] receiving the righteous judgment and being forsaken by God. It was Christ alone who knew [as] he knew God the Father in the truest sense. What did Jesus see at that hour? Did he see how dreadful and fearsome it was? We can only know just a smidgen through his figure of suffering agony. We get a glimpse of the weight of our sin that he bore upon his shoulders and the dreadfulness of God's judgment against sin.
He Encountered Trials Like We Do
10. And another thing. The figure of this one praying in agony shows that the son of God certainly did become one of the same human beings like we are. He shared in common like us everything, as a human being who lived suffering and being troubled with pain. The Bible says this: he was not somebody who could not sympathize with our weaknesses, and though he did not sin, on every point he had encountered trials like we do," (Hebrews 14:15).
11. "He had encountered trials like we do." "Trials" is also a word with the meaning of "temptations." This thing called "trials" or "temptations" takes place during conflicts between God's will and our wills as flesh. When God's will and our wills become completely one, there are neither trials nor temptations. But, it doesn't happen like that in reality. The will of God and the will of the flesh are contrary to each other. Even if the will of God points in a particular direction, the will of the flesh is set in another. Christ shared in common with us even this conflict at the physical flesh [level].
12. The will of God was in Christ's drinking up the dreadful cup given to him, even to the very last drop. However, as one of the people of humanity, Christ prayed, "Please take this cup away from me." This very conflict was the trial Christ had experienced, it was [his] temptation. We should not think obeying the will of God was easy for Jesus. There was a battle there for him in every way that he had to win. There was a battle with trials and temptations. There was the will of the flesh that had to be conquered in every way.
13. And the results of that battle were the words of "But it is not what I want, let what is in accordance with your will be performed." What's more, Jesus prayed those words even repeating them three times. It is a story that tells us how difficult it was even for Jesus to come to the point in a prayer of saying in a true sense, "Let what is in accordance with God's will be performed."
14. The words themselves of the prayer of "Thy will be done" often times cloak themselves as piety. But, if we're not willing to know God's will in earnest, if we are not willing to obey His will ourselves, we are praying "Thy will be done" with lip service alone, and if we are living in the flesh at the real world level, then it is nothing but a most irreverent and impious prayer [though] cloaked in piety. For that reason then, the words of the prayer "Thy will be done" ought not to be uttered lightly. While turning towards God, we mustn't say it smoothly and easily.
15. God's will doesn't get fulfilled having nothing to do with us. God is willing to use us in order to fulfill his will. He is willing to use our lives. Since that is true, like Jesus showed us, we ought first to turn face to face with God in truth and sincerity. Whenever you may have thoughts saying "I want you to remove this cup you have given me," then cling closer to God, clasp him ever more, call out to him in tears, and then [that's how] we ought to pray, "Please take this cup away from me." We're more likely to begin to see what God is willing to do through us precisely because we are living and coming face to face with God like that during prayer.
16. Furthermore, if it be the will of God that we drink the cup dry that he has given to us, it will be through prayer like that that we will ultimately come to be able to say with conviction, "Let what is in accordance with God's will be performed." That is not resignation or giving-up. It is not "because your will will be done anyhow ..." That is the figure which has truly gotten the victory over trials and temptations. What does Jesus say after this scene? The Lord said the following. "The time has come. The son of man will be handed over to the hands of sinners. Stand up, let's go! Look, the one who has betrayed me has come!," (verses forty-one and forty-two). This indeed is the figure which has gotten the victory over trials and temptations, which Jesus has shown us.
Stand Up, Let's Go!
17. Jesus said to his disciples, "Stay awake and pray, that you not fall into temptation." But, they were sound asleep while nearby Jesus was doing the battle of his life to fulfill the will of God. It is a figure that hits close to home. While we mouth the words "Thy will be done," there our figures lie, we're sound asleep spiritually speaking, we're not in the battle at all to fulfill God's will. Though spoken to by Jesus so many times, the disciples were sound asleep. The disciples had no clue what they should say to Jesus. It is our own figure, the way we look and are. However, Jesus did not say to these disciples like that, "You are still sleeping. You are resting. This is all quite well. I will fight by myself." The Lord said, "Stand up, let's go!" That's how Jesus is.
18. We'll understand it by reading the story after it. Peter who was fast asleep here would end up as Jesus foretold, he would say three times that he did not know Jesus, and he would forsake him and run away. The other disciples were the same [way]. When Jesus was crucified, it was only Jesus who was doing battle for the fulfillment of God's will. The picture sketched in the Garden of Gethsemane is no different from the cross scene. Jesus alone was facing God the Father.
19. However, Jesus did not say, "Now it's good by myself." The risen Christ appeared again to his disciples. Again, you could say, he said it to his disciples, "Stand up, let's go!" That's how the church was made. That's how we are here. The Lord is repeating himself to us as well with "Stand up, let's go!" Thus, again, we will stand up and seek that God's will of salvation will be done on earth. Waking up we will begin praying, that we might truly know God's will, and get the victory over trials and temptations, and get where we can say with conviction "Thy will be done."