Thy Will Be Done
COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
At the request of one of our longtime coffee companions (name withheld), I’m revisiting last year’s Lenten column on Jesus’ Gethsemane prayer. The reader has been in a tug of war between self-interest and the obedience of faith, he says, and this column has helped sustain his vision and endurance.
FOR THREE YEARS JESUS had proclaimed release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and liberation of the oppressed. Yes, the kingdom of God was at hand, and Light was shining in the darkness. But the darkness wasn’t all that happy about it. Self-interest, hypocrisy, and fear assaulted the Light with ridicule and rejection. Jesus’ hour had come. Would He yield to the darkness, or continue to walk in the Light – in fact, to be the Light, as His Heavenly Father had called Him to be?
For this column as we approach Passion Week in the Christian calendar, I want to visit Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, where He faced His ultimate test: would He humble Himself and become “obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross”? (Philippians 2:8 NRSV)
Jesus had forewarned His disciples about just such a terrible hour, but an hour with a breathtaking conclusion: “The Son of Man,” – as He often referred to Himself – “must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” (Luke 9:22 NRSV)
Thus, with His arrest and crucifixion imminent, Jesus came to the Garden of Gethsemane for a time of prayer – life-and-death prayer in a tug of war between darkness and the Light! The garden was at the foot of the Mount of Olives, along the eastern edge of Jerusalem.
He brought with Him three from His inner circle, Peter, James and John, and asked them to remain at a little distance and watch with Him. And as the account in Matthew 26 notes, Jesus “fell on his face and prayed, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.’”
One of my favourite recent artists, Richard Hook, captured this sacred moment in his painting, Thy Will Be Done, a copy of which hangs at the entrance to the Christ the King Chapel at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Cochrane. What an inspiration for those who come to the chapel for personal prayer and meditation: yes, not our will, but God’s will be done, a reminder of words in The Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
As Jesus got up from His knees, His hour had come: His arrest and impending crucifixion confronted Him, and as a lamb before its slaughter, so He opened not His mouth but followed the will of His Heavenly Father that would lead to His ultimate exaltation: the resurrection and the triumph of Light over darkness.
© 2022 Warren Harbeck