“Not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42)
The will of a king can be imposed, questioned, and even opposed, but rare is the case when the will of a king is submitted. Sovereignty doesn’t submit – it rules. However, two thousand years ago that is exactly what took place on the night the Lord Jesus, the Sovereign of the universe, laid aside his will to accomplish the will of God. Sovereignty submitted itself to save a race set on opposing Sovereignty.
Throughout the four gospels the writers intend to demonstrate for us the sovereignty of Christ over creation, sickness and death, demonic powers, and the intentions and plans of men. Story after story highlights the power of the Son of God to reign and rule over any and all opposing forces and bringing them into submission to his kingly will. But in a garden called Gethsemane Jesus surrenders his will to that of his Father so that all that was purposed and foretold might be accomplished in the death of a king submitted. Through tears and drops of blood Jesus agonizes over the will of the Father to crush him. He pleads in deepest despair for another way. Let us not assume that Jesus just bootstrapped his way to the cross – No! He cried out “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me” (Luke 22:42).
There is great sorrow in these words. Don’t forget that not one of Jesus’ prayers up to this point ever went unanswered. The Father’s will and his were gladly bent toward one another, but here in this moment the will of the Son of God must sorrowfully bend to the will of the Father. No way out, no other plan. The cross is the only way forward. So submitted, Jesus continues, “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
What wonder of wonders is this that a king with every right to impose his will, submits to accomplish the purposes of God. Here is something the world had not seen before this point. And to what end does he surrender his will? He does it on behalf of those who refused to willfully obey their king.
Because we refused the gracious reign of God, sin ransacked our will to obey. By merits of our disobedience in the garden and our own transgressions we had failed to learn to pray “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.” In pride we rejected God’s will to serve ourselves. And this is for whom, Jesus Christ, the Sovereign King, submitted his will to save.
You see Jesus the Sovereign said yes to the will of the Father to redeem those who had said no. Jesus the Sovereign lays aside his rights to serve his subjects who had imposed their wills to serve themselves. Jesus the Sovereign submitted to be slain for sin that sinners might be saved from the penalty of their own opposition. Christian Brothers and Sisters, our Sovereign submitted so that we might be saved to the praise of God’s glorious grace. Behold the man. Behold your God!