And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” Mark 14:36
In some ways, this was the moment when our salvation was won. Yes, Jesus still had to physically go through the suffering and death, but during these moments in a quiet peaceful garden, He resolved to face an anguish we do not have the capacity to grasp. Knowing that in the coming hours, His divine foreknowledge would become experience, and faced with all the horrors of sin and judgment and the hopelessness of being forsaken by the Father with whom He enjoyed an incomprehensible oneness, Jesus asked God to take the cup away.
And God said no.
I wonder if our familiarity with the story, or conversely, our tendency to see it as a small detail in a greater narrative, leads us to read through the account of Jesus in the garden. Take a little while to linger here.
Notice the awful price our sin required. The spiritual, mental, and emotional ordeal outweighed even the physical suffering Jesus would soon endure. We focus on the crucifixion, on the pain of the scourging… It was so much more than bearing our sins. He became sin, the very embodiment of sin. The holy, perfect, beloved Son became everything the Father hated.
Consider the love God has for us. John says, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! (1 John 3:1a) The NIV says the Father “lavished” that love on us. It chokes me up even as I write this. He willed, and was willing to endure this to ensure we could be redeemed from our rebellion. Because of His great love for us.
While God didn’t remove the cup, He supplied what Jesus needed to drink it. Jesus demonstrated a supernatural peace, strength, and resolve during His trial, suffering, and death. When God tells us no, it is always with grace. Remember His answer to Paul, “My grace is sufficient.”
Jesus Himself knows what it is like for God to answer a prayer with ‘no.’ He knows what it is to take burdens and fears to God in honest, vulnerable prayer, and to have God say no. But Jesus also shows the utmost confidence in God’s wisdom and perfect plan. Whatever God’s will required of Him, He was committed to doing. Even if that meant the terrible experience of the cross.
Jesus’s surrender to His Father’s will was vindicated. If we meet the ‘no’ with the confidence in and submission to God’s will, ours will be, too.
When has God told you ‘no’? What did you learn? How did it impact your faith?