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Devotional Part 10

21 Apr 2021

Mark 14:32-42

How’s your prayer life?

How am I praying?

The hour of Jesus trial is coming. He doesn’t panic. He doesn’t run off to try and find a place to hide. No. Instead He prays.

The true anguish of that prayer is not captured here in Mark’s Gospel, but we are all so familiar with it from the other synoptics.

Oh the terror, the anxiety, the mental anguish our Lord endured in those moments, all expressed and given voice to, all directed honestly but respectfully to His Father.

We see similar kinds of prayers in the Psalms of David - prayers of a broken man under immense political pressure, facing death at the hands of his enemies.

He rails against God, calling upon Him to keep His promises. His prayers are honest, almost too honest at times for our sensitive modern ears. But he is always respectful, always knows to whom he is speaking, and always ends by way of a reminder of the goodness and faithfulness of God.

Our prayers, my prayers, could do with a bit more of this kind of honesty and grit. My prayers hardly illicit sweat. Jesus prayers illicit blood - in every sense.

Jesus, we are told, ends His prayer with those famous words “not my will be done but thy will be done”.

Those words carry the weight of a thousand universes within them, a weight that only God Himself can carry.

Any mere mortal would be crushed by the weight of those words, and yet, in those words is the beginning and ending of our discipleship to the the Son of God who threw the stars in to the heavens.

Not my will but thy will be done.

It is the deepest prayer of my heart that every aspect of my heart, my life would cry out “Thy will be done!”

But there’s the rub, there’s the crux (intentionally used) of the matter. Parts of me do cry out ‘thy will be done’, but some aspects of me whispers insidiously behind raised hands so no-one will see ‘my will be done’.

There are parts of me, of my life, my heart, my affections, my thinking that do not recognise that they under the Lordship of Christ. What is the solution to this?

Jesus died for this. He dies for these rebellious parts of my stubborn heart. “I believe Lord help me in my unbelief”.

No human, in his or her own strength, can desire to or carry out the will of the Father. It is God who gives us both the desire and the power to do His will. This is what Jesus died to achieve. Peace with God has been granted as a gift of grace to those who stood as His enemies and rebells against His rightful rule.

Jesus has died for the rebel in you and in me, and so now we have peace with God and are promised that there will be no condemnation nor separation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

So can we then continue on our rebellion? By no means!

We have been crucified with Christ, our lives are now hidden in the life of Christ. We are His inheritance and He can in no way lose that which He has been granted at such a high price.

And so now we are caught between two worlds, between two realities, between two truths. It is a reality that will some day come to full fruition that we have been saved and made new in Christ, that the old has gone and the new is come. And yet for now we still dwell in this body and wrestle in this world with the flesh.

Our present reality needs to be seen and understood in light of the final state of things, the final and authoritative reality as it will be when Christ returns to make all things new. In fact, Paul is so sure of this coming state of affairs that he is able to rightly say that we are seated with Christ now in the heavenly places.

So how do we deal now until then?

Every part of my character that doesn’t bend the knee to Christ must be crucified. It must die, or more properly, in light of the life to come, it is dead already and we are dead to it. We need to dig a hole and bury the body of sin so that we don’t try and resuscitate it.

The old man is like a headless chicken. It’s already dead but keeps on running in the same old circles. It’s our obligation, in fact it should be our joy, to put to death these areas of our lives, these temptations that wage war against our souls, so that the life of Christ may flow more deeply and abundantly in and through us.

These areas of my life that whisper ‘my will be done’ are like log jams in a river, stultifying the flow, weakening its power, and limiting the waters from nourishing the parts of the land that are dry and thirsty, and as such, unable to produce.

We must put those rebellious areas of our lives to death, clearing the river bit by bit that the waters would flow more freely, unobstructed, reaching the dry and desolate places of our souls that we may produce fruit in abundance for Him.

This is what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. We must die to ourselves and live for Christ, pick up our cross and follow where He leads. Only in this way can we grow in Christ becoming more Christlike.

All too often, however, even in our praying “thy will be done” we really mean “my will be done”, or “thy will be done, and just in case you were wondering God, this is what your will is today”.

The story has been told of the drowning man who cried out to God to save him from drowning. In due course a rescue boat arrives and offers to save him, but the man refuses help believing that the Lord will intervene and save him from the waters. 

The man drowns and appears before God in heaven. He accuses God of not being true to His word, ignoring his prayer, and letting him drown. “I prayed for you to save me but you didn’t” to which God replied “Who do you think sent the rescue boat?”.

It is so often the case that we have our own ideas about how God should answer our prayers, and we are so committed to our view that we suppose it must therefore be the Lord’s will.

In doing so we not only fail to see what it is the Lord truly wills, but we also fail to see His answer to our prayers.

Not so with Jesus. He prays ‘Thy will’ and He means it.

He prays this in the face of great fear and anxiety, great emotional, psychological, and spiritual pain, and He commits Himself to the will of the Father at a great cost to Himself. A cost so great that I believe we will be coming to grips with it even as we enjoy the rewards His commitment won for us in eternity.

We must commit ourselves to the will of the Father no matter the cost in the short term.

His will is that we are conformed to the image of His son, and that is going to hurt. It is going to mean pruning back certain areas of our heart, character, and life that we may produce fruit for His glory.

It is also going to mean lopping off parts of us that are unfruitful, or worse, that produce bad fruit.

How can we submit ourselves to what will undoubtedly be a painful journey? The same way that Jesus did and by the same spirit that empowered Jesus, with the same motivation - for the joy set before Him.

We can suffer now in light of the joy eternal that has been promised to us by our Lord.

I have often said that the Christian Faith is a life for life deal. Jesus has given His, now it is time for us to give ours.

“He who seeks his life shall lose it, he who loses his life shall gain it.”

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