Yet not as I will, but as You will
Matthew 26:14-46 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?” And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him. 16 From then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Jesus.
17 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?” 18 And He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is near; I am to keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.”’” 19 The disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover.
20 Now when evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the twelve disciples. 21 As they were eating, He said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me.” 22 Being deeply grieved, they each one began to say to Him, “Surely not I, Lord?” 23 And He answered, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me. 24 The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” 25 And Judas, who was betraying Him, said, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself.”
26 While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” 27 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; 28 for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. 29 But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”
30 After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
31 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, ‘I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered.’ 32 But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” 33 But Peter said to Him, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” 35 Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.” All the disciples said the same thing too.
36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. 38 Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.”
39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” 40 And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? 41 Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
42 He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” 43 Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. 45 Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!”
In Matthew 16:21-23 it says: From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” In Matthew 20:17-19, just days before the events of today’s text it says: As Jesus was about to go up to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and on the way He said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up.” In today’s text Jesus says: “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me.” This raises two questions. First, did Judas have a choice or was he destined to be the one who betrayed Jesus. Second, if Jesus knew what was about to happen, that He would be crucified, why did He pray: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will”?
It is difficult, perhaps impossible for us to know if Judas was destined to be the one to betray Jesus. This much I do know, if Judas would not have been the one, surely there would have been another, since the cross was Jesus destiny from the time He was born. Dying for the sins of the world is why He came. We don’t know for sure what all of the underlying motivations were behind Judas’s actions. We know that greed played a part. He sought out and received payment for his betrayal. Some people think there may have also been a political motivation behind what Judas did. They believe that in part, he hoped that his betrayal would force Jesus to become the political leader many of the Jews sought, like a hero of old, rising up against the oppression of the Roman government. In the end, what Judas did, fulfilled scripture and became part of the chain of events that led to the crucifixion of Jesus. We can’t know for sure, whether or not Judas could have avoided being the one to betray Jesus. Jesus said: “The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” It would seem that there was room for repentance, a chance for Judas to change his mind and his actions, but he did not. We do not need to wonder how God’s plan and His will would have been otherwise fulfilled. For ourselves, we need to know that we are not destined for evil but for good. As 2 Peter 3:9 says: The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. Whatever the motivations or the temptations for our sin, whatever the depths of sin we have already fallen to, God’s desire is not that we perish for evil, but rather that we repent. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Even if our denial of Christ, or our betrayal of Him was so grievous that it put Him on the cross, God’s desire is that we see Jesus on the cross, and hear Him say: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
As for the second question, why did Jesus, knowing what was going to happen, having already spoken that it would be, still pray: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will”? Again it is impossible for us to know all that was going through Jesus mind at the time. Jesus was fully God and fully man. In order to fulfill the will of the Father and His plan to redeem and restore man to what He intended, Jesus humbled Himself and became like us. He was: tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15) Perhaps it is that Jesus prayer is recorded for us so that we know that it is okay to ask the Father if there be another way out of a difficult situation which causes us pain and anguish. It is okay for us, like Jesus, to say, Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me, as long as we also like Him will say, yet not as I will, but as You will. John, one of the disciples who Jesus took with Him when He prayed in the garden, also recorded Jesus prayer. In John 17:1-5 says: Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” Like Jesus our desire should be that both in our life and in our death, whenever and however it may come, God the Father would be glorified. Like Jesus, because of the pain and anguish He bore on the cross, we have confidence to know that we are being and have been restored to the glory God intended for us, when He created us in His image and likeness.
Whatever it is that we might face, may we know for certain that first of all, if we look to the cross we will hear Jesus words, Father forgive them. May we also know that it is okay when we are faced with the trials and difficulties of this life, to pray as Jesus did, My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will. May we also though, as Jesus did, say: Father, the hour has come; glorify me, that I may glorify You... I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. Amen.