I’ve spent this week looking at surrender. God expects us to surrender unconditionally to Him. That’s the deal. It’s a simple one to understand, but it can seem impossible to do. We like control. We like to hang on tight to the illusion that we have control. But we’re also supposed to follow Jesus Christ. We can’t say we’re following if we’re heading in a different direction than the one He’s going. And that got me to thinking about the topic of being Christlike. This gets a lot of talk in the Church. We all want to be Christlike. That’s what we say is our goal. So what’s it like to be like Christ?
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.”
And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”
And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.”
Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more.
Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!”
– Matthew 26:36-46, NASB
Jesus was faced with a situation that none of us would want to go through. He knew what the Father’s will was: for Jesus to complete the sacrifice for sin by dying on the Cross. He also knew what would lead to that. He knew about the betrayal. He knew about the false accusations. He knew about the public ridicule and hate. And He knew about the torture that preceded being nailed to the Cross. But it came down to a question of surrender. Would Christ have surrendered to the Father’s will? Our standard response is, “Of course He would. There’s no question about it!” And that, in its essence, is what being Christlike is all about. Surrendering to the Father’s will. Surrendering without question. Leaving no doubt that we will surrender to whatever He calls us to.
Jesus knew what doing so would cost Him. He was going to die. And He was going to die in a very humiliating and painful way. But still He went. Now some may say, “Well, it’s different with Jesus. He knew He was coming back to life again. That’s why He could face death in the face.” But don’t we know we’re going to live again, too? If God’s calling is for us to sacrifice even our lives, don’t we have the faith to believe that we will receive the gift of eternal life? After all, that is the promise of salvation. So what stops us from this kind of surrender to the Father’s will? Ultimately, all the answers point back to us. We’re the ones stopping ourselves from this kind of surrender. Us. So let us do something about that and yield to the Father’s will.
One more thing I’ll point out as I close today’s message. Notice how Jesus reacted once He had confirmed that the Cross was the path He had to take. He embraced it. He got the others up and ready for the confrontation that was about to go down. He didn’t hide in the bushes and hope the mob wouldn’t see Him. He didn’t hang back waiting until the last possible moment. His words are clear, “Get up, let us be going.” This wasn’t a begrudging surrender and acceptance of the Father’s will. This was a lead from the front, motivated surrender to what the Father had called Him to do. So when we surrender, it’s got to be wholehearted. We need to be just as eager, no matter the cost. After all, we’re being called by God Almighty into His service. He is giving us the opportunity to do something for His glory. He who has saved us has reached down and said, “You’re in the game. Go get ’em!” It’s time to embrace our calling both today and every day thereafter until God calls us home.