The Will of God – Jesus, Part 3

Jesus trusted his Father so completely that the flesh of Adam was much more subjugated in Him than in me.  Still, I can think of two incidents where the flesh made an appearance and was recorded by the Gospel writers.  Matthew and Mark had different opinions as to whether the first incident happened before or after Jesus cleansed the temple, but both associated it with that event.

Now early in the morning, Matthew recorded, as [Jesus] returned to the city, he was hungry.  After noticing a fig tree by the road he went to it, but found nothing on it except leaves.  He said to it, “Never again will there be fruit from you!”  And the fig tree withered at once.[1]  The tree appeared as if it should have fruit on it but did not have any.  Mark wrote: Now the next day, as they went out from Bethany, [Jesus] was hungry.  After noticing in the distance a fig tree with leaves, he went to see if he could find any fruit on it.  When he came to it he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.  He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.”  And his disciples heard it.[2]

Mark added the following details: 1) The fig tree that withered at once was overnight, 2) Jesus saw and approached the tree from a distance; and 3) it was not the season for figs.  This is what persuades me that I am witnessing the flesh of Adam in Jesus, a frustration that overcame his reason.

It’s not too hard to see that the actual frustration Jesus vented on the fig tree was the hypocrisy of his own people.  He might have cursed those who were selling and buying in the temple courts[3] with chilling effect.  Instead, as a man like Adam He began to drive out those who were selling and buying in the temple courts.  He turned over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and he would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts.  Then he began to teach them[4]

The second incident occurred in the garden of Gethsemane the night he was betrayed.  Jesus, born of the Spirit of God, knew that the death of the flesh of Adam was part of his Father’s purpose for his life and ministry.  Now my soul is greatly distressed, He said.  And what should I say?  ‘Father, deliver me from this hour’?  No, but for this very reason I have come to this hour.[5]  But Jesus, also born of the flesh of Adam, prayed, My Father, if possible, let this cup pass from me![6]

It is important to me to believe that Jesus’ willingness to suffer was of utmost concern to his Father.  I believe Jesus could have said, Father, deliver me from this hour, with complete impunity.  He still would have sat at his Father’s right hand, and his Father would have said something equivalent to, “Don’t worry about it.  We’ll get’em next time, Tiger.”  But Jesus did not pray Father, deliver me from this hour.  He never put his Father in that position.

Jesus prayed, Father, if possible, let this cup pass from me!  Yet not what I will (θέλω),[7] but what you will.[8]  He was strengthened by the Holy Spirit, then prayed a second time, My Father, if this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will (θέλημα)[9] must be done.”[10]  Luke wrote, Father, if you are willing (βούλει, a form of βούλομαι),[11] take this cup away from me.  Yet not my will (θέλημα) but yours be done.[12]  As subjugated as the flesh was in Jesus He did not rely on his desires (θέλω or θέλημα) to direct his path, but relied on the will of God.

While I am completely convinced by my own experience (for the Scripture doesn’t say it) that the living Holy Spirit of God interceded with Jesus in real time and space, and strengthened Him at that precise moment, I can’t escape how the same Holy Spirit interceded for Jesus in other ways as well.  The flesh of Adam transmitted to Jesus came through his mother.  When I see Jesus praying My Father, if this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will must be done, I can’t help but see Mary answering Gabriel, Yes, I am a servant of the Lord; let this happen to me according to your word.[13]  This is the spirit of the woman who raised Jesus as a boy.

I am becoming more and more convinced that the idea of human sacrifice (including the death of the Lord Jesus) did not originate in the mind of God.  They have also built places of worship in a place called Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom so that they can sacrifice their sons and daughters by fire. That is something I never commanded them to do!  Indeed, it never even entered my mind to command such a thing![14]  They have built places here for worship of the god Baal so that they could sacrifice their children as burnt offerings to him in the fire.  Such sacrifices are something I never commanded them to make!  They are something I never told them to do!  Indeed, such a thing never even entered my mind![15]  They built places of worship for the god Baal in the Valley of Ben Hinnom [that is, Gehenna] so that they could sacrifice their sons and daughters to the god Molech.  Such a disgusting practice was not something I commanded them to do!  It never even entered my mind to command them to do such a thing![16]

Though I don’t believe that Jesus’ sacrifice originated in the mind of God, I do believe it is evidence of how far God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—will go to communicate to the religious minds of those born of the flesh of Adam, who thought that such sacrifice should have some merit.  So as I see Jesus praying, your will must be done, accepting the death that will put an end to sacrifice—I want (θέλω) mercy and not sacrifice[17]—and an end to oaths of righteousness—I say to you, do not take oaths at all[18]—and I see his mother praying, let this happen to me according to your word, I also see an unnamed girl who was commemorated for her words, My father, since you made an oath to the Lord, do to me as you promised,[19] after she returned from mourning her virginity and was sacrificed to God to fulfill Jephthah’s reckless oath.  Here I find my understanding of one of Jesus’ more enigmatic sayings, enigmatic to those of us who must follow Him by faith rather than by sight.

If anyone wants to become my follower, Jesus said, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.[20]  Peter and Paul helped me see what it meant to deny myself, to believe that I have died to sin,[21] to say, I do not know the man[22] to the old man that was crucified with [Christ] so that the body of sin would no longer dominate[23] me.  To take up [my] cross is to join Jesus distrusting my own desires and saying to God, not my will but yours be done.[24]  And finally, to follow Jesus is to love and forgive others as He did, which is the fulfillment of the law.[25]  Freely you received, Jesus told his disciples, freely give.[26]

Back to Romans, Part 22

Back to Romans, Part 26

Back to Romans, Part 28

Back to Romans, Part 32

Back to The Soul

Back to The Righteousness of God

Back to Who Am I? Part 6

[1] Matthew 21:18, 19 (NET)

[2] Mark 11:12-14 (NET)

[4] Mark 11:15b-17a (NET)

[5] John 12:27 (NET)

[6] Matthew 26:39 (NET)

[8] Matthew 26:39 (NET)

[10] Matthew 26:42 (NET)

[12] Luke 22:42 (NET)

[13] Luke 1:38 (NET)

[14] Jeremiah 7:31 (NET)

[15] Jeremiah 19:5 (NET)

[16] Jeremiah 32:35 (NET)

[17] Matthew 9:13 and 12:7 (NET) ἔλεος θέλω καὶ οὐ θυσίαν a quotation of Hosea 6:6 from the Septuagint, ἔλεος θέλω καὶ οὐ θυσίαν.  Hosea 6:6 translated from contemporary Hebrew reads, For I delight in faithfulness, not simply in sacrifice (NET).  See also Hebrews 10:5-9 (NET).

[18] Matthew 5:34 (NET)

[19] Judges 11:36 (NET)

[20] Matthew 16:24 (NET)

[23] Romans 6:6 (NET)

[24] Luke 22:42 (NET)

[26] Matthew 10:8 (NET)