[see Genesis 3; Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 4:32-42Luke 22:39-46]

"My Father..."

Reading Jesus say these words of affection seems to me like I am intruding on a intimate and sacred moment. It isn't like it would be forbidden, but it seems like these moments when Jesus would pray were so deep and so personal that they would be otherworldly and, maybe, uncomfortable. Imagining his voice in my head I also imagine a "knowing" in his tone that revealed that his relationship with the Father was as constant as it was intimate; deep and rich in mutual affection and (because I cannot find another word) "holy." 

It is the closeness of his relationship with the Father that brought him to these moments of agony in the garden. (Was that as hard to read as it was to write?)

In any selfless devotion, there is always a place of pain. A new mom whose body cries out for rest getting up in the middle of the night to feed a nursing child. A husband who has watched his bride slowly slip away from him for 10 years because of the effects of dementia. A long-suffering friend who, though her childhood playmate has become a wayward adult, prays and waits for God to do the miracle she longs for to bring that friend back "home."

It was the joy in following the heart of his Father that led him to this sorrow. It was knowing the Father's passionate purpose that compelled Jesus to obey even to the point of real, gut-wrenching pain. 

"...If it is possible let this cup pass from me.." 

Most suffering in the world seems to be meaningless and random. There was a purpose in Jesus' suffering.  

Though Jesus often went to the Mount of Olives ("...as was his custom") there is something deliberate about why the scene of Jesus greatest testing, his greatest struggle, happened in a garden. It would not have been lost on the Jewish people of Jesus' day like it was to me for so long. It was because of what happened in a Garden in Genesis that Jesus was ever in this garden in the first place.

When Adam and Eve listened to the tempting voice and gave in to its fiendish counsel, they effectively said "Not your will, O God, but mine!" After that, those words became the inclination of their hearts...a heart-trait that they passed down to every living person who has come after them. The stubborn bent of our souls is to seek for forbidden fruit to eat and to recklessly look for our joy in acts that are destroying us. 

Sin, suffering, and death came out of the Garden of Eden, following Adam. As Adam and Eve multiplied, so did all the problems: Rwandian genocide. Siberian work camps. Death marches. Abandoned children longing for a parent to love them. A harsh word spoken. A cold shoulder.

And with every selfish thought, every harmful action, every devious plan that came from our hearts, the cup of God's wrath filled more and more. (see Jer. 25:15; Is 51:17

It was all of the sin and suffering and death that came rushing out of Eden that weighed heavily on Jesus in this garden. So heavy, in fact, that Jesus pleads with his Father to take it from him. It was an unseen agony that weighed down his soul because he knew something else...

...The only way to satisfy the demands of justice and the purpose of love was for Jesus himself to take on the cup. There was no other way.

Jesus knew he had to substitute himself for us. He was going to drink our cup of a righteous wrath.

"...Not what I will, but what you will."

It is in these words that we see the willingness that comes from love. Even though we were the perpetrators, he chose to take our place. Jesus had such a joy in his relationship with the Father and such a love for undeserving people that he was willing to endure a punishment worse than Hell itself: He would, willingly, take our place.

Suffering seems stronger than love. Love can seem weak...an emotion that dries up when something real like pain comes along. But what Jesus shows us in this garden is that there is a love that is stronger than suffering- the type of love that is willing to endure suffering for someone else.

Not out of weakness or defeat that come from when stubbornness is overcome, but from a heart that was overcome with love, Jesus surrendered to the Father's will. He knew the Father's will was good even if it was, well, excruciating to him.

What we see here is that Jesus had a deeper will that propelled him to suffering: the joy that comes from seeing the Father's ways come to pass. At whatever the cost to himself.

It's this will that can change the world.