Last week as I re-read the story of Jesus arrest, crucifixion and resurrection in preparation for Good Friday and Easter, I was struck by Jesus prayer in the Garden, as recorded in Matthew.
“Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’” Matthew 26:39
Most of us have been praying the original Lord’s Prayer so long, to our shame we barely even think about the words. So perhaps this year we ought to commit ourselves to praying this other Lord’s prayer.
Not my will. But may your will be done. (My paraphrase)
Peter had the same problem you and I have. He had a will of his own. And while at some level he wanted to do God’s will, he apparently wanted his own will done as well. So, after Jesus’ resurrection, he had breakfast with Peter beside the Sea of Galilee. Breakfast with Jesus Can’t you just imagine Jesus down on one knee, tending the fire, probably looking like he did when he drew in the dirt with his finger before speaking in defense of the woman caught in adultery?
And as Peter approaches the fire, tired from fishing all night, he senses that something isn’t right. Jesus isn’t looking at him; he’s thoughtfully staring into the fire and beyond. Then Jesus speaks slowly, as if choosing his words carefully, almost in a whisper so as not to shame Peter in front of the others.
“Peter do you love me more than these?”
We’re not exactly sure what Jesus meant by these. Perhaps Jesus was asking whether Peter loved him more than he did the simple life of a fisherman, or the companionship of his friends, the good food frying in the pan, or the comfort of the familiar. Jesus was about to entrust his earthly ministry to eleven men. But this man, only days before, had denied he even knew Jesus – denied it three times! Now the Son of Man needed to hear from him – to test him. Was Peter ready?
Three times Jesus asked a variation of this question.
Is it possible that Jesus didn’t know the answer? Of course he did! Perhaps he wanted Peter, one last time, to count the cost, then shout his answer to Jesus out loud, leaving the sound of it ringing in the air and in his own ears.
Is Jesus still waiting for your answer? Do you love me more than these?
Is there something or someone else you love more than Jesus that’s holding you back from fully following him? Your job? An addiction? The lifestyle you dream about? Hobbies in which you invest so much time and money? Friends you’re afraid of losing? Your infatuation with your Facebook community? A boyfriend who’s pulling you down? The comfortable routine of your Christian life?
Whatever grips your heart, whatever truly alters your behavior, that which you daydream about and talk about most with your friends – that thing is probably another god. I speak from experience. I’m embarrassed at how often my heart still stirs for gods I thought long dead.
Do you love me more than these? Then come follow me.
Quote from The 10 Second Rule
So what is it that you love more than God, and doing the will of God?
If you need some hints: 1. What’s the first thing you thought about this morning when you woke up? 2. What was your first source of information this morning, the computer, your phone or the Bible? 3. Look in your checkbook. 4. What people who don’t know Jesus yet, are you praying for?
I’m going to make, “Not my will, but your will be done,” my prayer for 2015. Will you join me?
If you’re unsure where to start, how about here: “Just do the next thing you’re reasonably certain Jesus wants you to do.”
How following Jesus works in real life.
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