He went about a stone’s throw away, knelt, and prayed. “My Father, if you are willing, let me escape this suffering. Nevertheless, I want your will, not mine.” — Luke 22:41–42
Those words reflect Jesus’ struggle for total commitment, because the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak (Matthew 26:41). He could have called twelve armies of angels (Matthew 26:52), but instead he chose to suffer and die.
I believe Jesus’ words of complete surrender, “I want your will, not mine,” has to be at the very top of my “most important” list.
The “Life” Jesus offers might be hard to imagine.
I wonder how the Pharisees felt when Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life.” After all, they were God’s people, weren’t they? In following their religious traditions, they already had life. Or so they thought. What more was there?
When Jesus said he was the way, truth, and life, they must have said, “What’s he talking about?”
They weren’t going to sacrifice what they had unless they were convinced that Jesus offered something better.
“Not my will” should be our prayer, as well.
Do I really have to give up my independence? I’ve heard preachers say it isn’t so, but then I had to decide whether to listen to them or Jesus’ words:
“Any man who follows me must be willing to forsake father and mother, wife, brothers and sisters, and children. You must even be willing to give up your own life, or you cannot be my disciple. Those who will not take up their cross and follow in my footsteps cannot be my disciples.” — Luke 14:26–27
I’ve heard countless calls for people to commit their lives to Christ, to confess their faith and acknowledge that Jesus died for their sins. Occasionally I might hear the need to be transformed from sinner to sinless, being changed from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). But I have yet to hear the basic discipleship requirement: to sacrifice everything we want for sake of what God wants, even our lives.
Jesus said it, but did he mean it?
Apparently not. Google “not my will” and you’ll find countless websites that quote Scripture without providing any good reason why we should make the supreme sacrifice. Saying “the Bible says so” isn’t a compelling argument for most people.
Even if Jesus meant it, is it really necessary?
According to popular Christian perspectives, it’s not. If all that salvation requires is a profession of faith, then we’ve bought the insurance policy, avoiding a fiery Hell and guaranteeing our entrance into Heaven’s glory.
Nobody wants to pay an exorbitant price for something that’s free, do they? It makes no sense. To convince anyone otherwise, I would have to show that the free gift of eternal life comes with conditions.
Jesus’ total commitment to me requires my total commitment to him. Maybe so, but I’d still like to know why that’s so important.
Convincing Jesus’ followers took years after they recognized him as Messiah.
After meeting the Messiah and seeing miracles, Peter was back at his fishing business until Jesus called him to abandon his nets (Matthew 4:19–20). He left home, family, and work to preach the Kingdom, heal the sick, cast out evil spirits, and raise the dead (Matthew 10:8).
Peter and the rest of the disciples thought they were willing to die, but Jesus knew different, that they would be scatter like sheep without a shepherd, and Peter would deny him before the rooster crowed (Matthew 26:31–35).
Later, after the gift of the Holy Spirit changed their lives, the disciples chose to obey God rather than people, even when threatened with imprisonment and death (Acts 5:29).
We will die for a relationship only after we know how valuable it is.
Salvation is something like a marriage. It begins with the ceremony, but that’s far from the end. If it doesn’t involve total commitment, it could be destined for divorce.
Complete surrender to God’s will is our only means to defeat Satan.
When I am tempted, I am led astray by my own desires (James 1:14). That is, I have bought the lie that Satan gave Eve in the beginning, that I can benefit from going my own way.
Satan and his supporters continue to spread the “truth” that we can make ourselves great and don’t need God. To spin that deception into Christianity, the message says, “God wants to bless you, to give you everything you want. Go your own way, and he will walk with you.”
If I desire my own way, I’ve already lost my battle with temptation, but if I can see the value of surrendering my will to God, the decision is final, the victory won.
Completely surrender your will to whatever God wants. Then your resistance to the devil is an absolute no, and he has no reason to hang around. — James 4:7
When I pray, “I want your will, not mine,” I no longer have to worry about where I am or where I’m headed, because I’ve put God in complete control.
May your Kingdom come and your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. — Matthew 6:10