No discussion of love can be complete without regarding Gethsemane. In this second Garden, the divine love of the Father in the spirit of Jesus wrestled with the soul of Jesus, a war inside one body. This Man who had gone around saying “I and the Father are one” and “When you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father” saw a separate will within himself, self-preservation rising up, self-love. “If there is any other way, let this cup pass from me.” I don’t want to die by execution, have my soul be despised, rejected, and to become sin and have my spirit separated from my Father. Anything but that. Was it wrong to feel this way, wrong to desire a way less painful? Obviously not. Temptation is not sin.
“Let this cup pass from me.” He wrestled, like Jacob with the angel, but Jesus wasn’t saying, “I won’t let you go until you bless me.” It was, “Please, if there’s any other way, get me out of this.” The Father wouldn’t let him off, because Jesus was born to be a blessing for others, broken bread and outpoured wine. In the end Jesus took the sword of the Spirit and ran it through his own desire to be happy, pain-free, and comfortable. “Neverthless, not my will, but Thine be done.” “Who, for the joy set before him, endured the Cross, despising the shame,” the joy of seeing others freed, renewed, made alive, made fit for the company of Heaven.
What choice happened in Gethsemane? All we have are the words of Jesus: “Not My will, but Thine be done.” But we also have the witness of James, who delineates the exact nature of temptation. “Every man is tempted” (including the Man, Jesus) “when he is drawn away by his own strong desire, and enticed.” If there is temptation, there is a Tempter, exciting those desires and pulling on them, stirring us up. To be enticed is to want to do something, to feel the pull of desire, of want. Jesus was enticed to want something other than God’s will for him. He wanted to escape the spirit, soul, and body suffering of the Cross. This was not sin. To want something, and be enticed toward it, is not sin. James continues. “Then, when strong desire has conceived, it brings forth sin…” Strong desire has to be married to something in order to conceive – a choice of the will to have the desired thing, to turn from faith in the sovereign, loving God and instead to reach for what we think is best. It is the choice of Eve in Eden. God hath said, but I am choosing otherwise. We trust our own temporary tunnel vision rather than God’s perfect and all-encompassing sight.
In Gethsemane, this second Garden, Jesus made the opposite choice. He gave up the soulish desire for self-protection, for comfort, ease, and gave in to the divine nature within himself: “I can do nothing of myself” (that is, of his own human power). “The Father in me does the works.” In temptation, Jesus always gave in to the divine nature as the Source and Ground of his being, as the sovereign Director who ordered his footsteps.
When Jesus meets up with Judas and the guards, we see a completely different man than in the preceding hours – human still, potent with passion and feeling, but his humanity subjugated to the eternal plan and purpose of the Father within him. The divine nature within Jesus won out, as always, even in the most intense situations. The essential questions, “Who am I” and “Why am I here?” were answered in a very definite and final victory as he laid down his soul and body life, allowing Jesus to walk as a King through the torture and death of the Cross.
To be continued.
Winner of 147 Grammys (or so), Ron Block is the banjo-ninja portion of Alison Kraus and Union Station. When he’s not laying down a bluegrass-style martial-arts whoopin’ on audiences around the world, he’s taking care of his donkey named “Trash” and keeping himself busy by being one of the most well-read and thoughtful people we know.