It is night. Very late. It is about to start. Just before the crowd appears and the kiss is delivered, Jesus has gone just beyond his disciples for one last time alone with the Father.
Seeking connection, wanting certainty, Jesus begins his prayer with…
My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.
As his disciples, Jesus invites us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him. Yet, too often, our prayers stop with a plea for the cup, whatever cup we are being asked to drink from, to be taken from our lips.
We want God to change our circumstances rather than change us.
So we pray for our spouse to change so that our experience in marriage can be a happy one. God, take this cup. Instead of examining our own false expectations, seeking to understand how we are building up the false self in this relationship, – instead of attempting to understand what it is we are supposed to deny – we ask for the circumstance to change. And wait. And get frustrated. Why doesn’t God listen to me?
As we struggle with financial problems that are of our own making, we pray for the new job or the raise. God, take this cup. All the while, missing the opportunity to determine why we feel the need for more, what is being satisfied by keeping up with everyone else. Wanting just enough Jesus to make things better for our false self.
When we see someone in need, we beg for the light to turn green. God, take this cup.
But that was not the end of the prayer of Jesus. He went on to say…
Yet not as I will, but as you will.
Jesus submitted because He knew that before there can be new life, there has to be death.
Before a new plant can grow, the fruit of the old has to dry up, die, and be buried. Before you can experience a new level of intimacy in your marriage, you must die to the ways you use your spouse to prop up your old nature. Before you can experience financial freedom – at whatever income level – you must die to the reasons for your coveting.
Jesus was the fruit of the old covenant. Before we could enter the kingdom of the new covenant, He had to die. Our reconciliation with God, beginning to repair of our broken image, being declared righteous – all the many ways we experience new life – are all dependent upon the death of Christ. That is Good Friday.
That is also to be the pattern of our lives. Dying to self daily – moment by moment – shedding the layers of our old, false nature in order to experience new life in Christ.
What is keeping you from experiencing the fullness of new life in Christ?