• P. Frank

Thy Will Be Done

Today, we celebrate Maundy Thursday. This is when Jesus established the Institution of the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion. He did this in the Upper Room in the Upper City of Jerusalem with all twelve of His disciples while celebrating the Passover. At this point, Judas Iscariot had already agreed to turn Jesus over to the chief priests for thirty pieces of silver. (Matthew 26:14–16). After breaking bread with His disciples, and some colorful exchanges between His disciples, Jesus went to the Mount of Olives, to the Garden of Gethsemane, to pray and focus.

Jesus is fully God, but He is also fully human. The plan for salvation was told to us in the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve’s original sin. Jesus knew the plan and He was moments away from its completion. He also knew just how hard it was going to be to accomplish. “And when He came to the place, He said to them, ‘Pray that you may not enter into temptation.’ And He withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.’” (Luke 22:40–42). Jesus, as God, knew the pain and suffering His human body was about to endure. It wasn’t that He feared the plan for salvation; it was that Jesus, like any human would, felt stressed about how His body and spirit could possibly stand the amount of pain He was about to go through the next day.

Jesus was not committing a sin; He was simply expressing a legitimate human concern about His part in the plan. I’m assuming that anyone reading this has never been scourged or crucified. Scripture doesn’t specify exactly what type of scourge was used on Jesus; however, we know that Roman torture was brutal. Based on what we know historically, the Roman soldiers most likely used either a whip with spiked tips or a chain with metal hooks at the ends, or both. Either way, we know that they beat Jesus so severely that later they had to make another man, named Simon, help Him carry His cross to Calvary because He was too weak, likely due to blood loss. The excruciating pain of being scourged and then having a crown of thorns jammed down on His head was only a prelude to the real torture of crucifixion.

The Romans had perfected torturous executions with the cross. It was such a cruel punishment that Roman law excluded Roman citizens from crucifixion. Jesus was not just tied to the cross, nails were driven through His hands (wrists) and feet, adding another level of pain and suffering. Crucifixion on the cross was designed to suffocate the victim. The angled wooden block under the victim’s feet only gave a small amount of support. In order to breathe, the victim would have to press against the restraints and block (and nail, in Jesus’ case). Without any reprieve, the victim would eventually fatigue and slip down, overextending their arms. This position makes breathing extremely difficult and the victim’s heart would have beat faster as it tried to compensate for the lack of oxygen. However, this and their shallow, rapid breathing would only exaggerate the fatigue and hypoxia until the heart stopped beating and the victim died an agonizing death.

Because Jesus is God, He knew exactly what He was going to have to endure to atone for all of our sin. But even worse than all of the physical pain and suffering, Jesus knew that He would have to be separated from God the Father and forsaken on our behalf. Jesus literally endured hell until Easter morning so that His faithful believers would not have to. Because God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are one, God Himself suffered for our sakes. He had to do this in order to defeat sin once and for all. So, as you can imagine, of course Jesus felt the extreme stress of His situation on Maundy Thursday. As God, He knew what had to be done for the restoration and redemption of His creation. However, as a human, He wondered if there could be another way.

“And there appeared to Him an angel from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony He prayed more earnestly; and His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 43–44). “Hematohidrosis” is the rare condition in which an individual sweats blood. The most frequent cause is extreme levels of stress. In the Garden of Gethsemane, God the Father was already beginning to separate Himself from Jesus. I’m sure Jesus knew this, otherwise, He wouldn’t be undergoing such severe levels of stress. But God the Father still sent an angel to strengthen and encourage Jesus, to help Him keep His focus on the plan for salvation and restoration. God’s plan for redemption had no other way for completion. Jesus, the unblemished and perfect sacrificial Lamb of God, had to shed His blood as the last sacrifice for the atonement of all our sins.

So, knowing that the pain and suffering were only temporary, Jesus stuck to the plan to save all sinners and restore all of His creation. Shortly after Jesus finished praying, Judas Iscariot led the armed crowd to Jesus to betray Him with a kiss. Jesus would then be put through a mock trial, paraded in front of Pontius Pilate and Herod Antipas, severely beaten, and crucified to death. Jesus had previously told His disciples, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down His life for His friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15:12–14).

Jesus put aside His own extreme stress and anxiety through prayer to His Father in Heaven. God the Father strengthened Him with encouragement from one of His angels. Then, Jesus willingly and freely gave Himself as the last blood sacrifice to atone for all our sins. Why? Because He loved us more than He loved Himself! “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God.” (Romans 5:6–9).

Thanks be to God the Son for overcoming His human stress and for enduring the pain and suffering of a miserable death in our stead. Praise be to Him! Let His Will be done, always!