Chapter 11: ~ “NOT MY WILL, BUT THINE”

These words of Christ are, unfortunately, often used to lend support to this belief that there was a part of Him that wanted to do wrong. Hopefully by taking a closer look at them it will be seen that nothing could be farther from the truth.

There were actually three different occasions in which Christ made this kind of statement: John 5:30, John 6:38, and Gethsemane. The statements in John 5:30 and 6:38 are similar and I will look at them as one. Those words spoken in Gethsemane were undeniably of a completely different nature than the ones in John 5 and 6. I will look at the statements in John 5 and 6 first, then I will examine Christ’s words in Gethsemane.

Here are the two statements from John 5 and 6:

“I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.”  {John 5:30}
“I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.”  {John 6:38}

I hope that two quotes will be sufficient to show what a horrible misapplication it is to use those words of Christ in John 5 and 6 to support the idea that Christ’s will was different from His Father’s, or that there was a part of Him that wanted to do wrong:

“The time of the Passover was drawing near, and again Jesus turned toward Jerusalem. In His heart was the peace of perfect oneness with the Father’s will, and with eager steps He pressed on toward the place of sacrifice.”  {Desire of Ages 547}

“In His heart was the peace of perfect oneness with the Father’s will.” I cannot conceive how a person could harmonize in his mind the belief that while Christ’s heart was in perfect oneness with the Father’s will, His will was not.

As clear as that first quote is, I believe this second quote is even more significant, because it is taken from the chapter in Desire of Ages that is based on John 5, which of course is where the statement, “I seek not mine own will,” is found:

“The humble Nazarene asserts His real nobility. He rises above humanity, throws off the guise of sin and shame, and stands revealed, the Honored of the angels, the Son of God, One with the Creator of the universe. His hearers are spellbound. No man has ever spoken words like His, or borne himself with such a kingly majesty… Jesus repelled the charge of blasphemy. My authority, He said, for doing the work of which you accuse Me, is that I am the Son of God, one with Him in nature, in will, and in purpose.”  {Desire of Ages 210, 208}

According to the Spirit of Prophecy, Jesus (during one of the greatest displays of His divinity ever given to the world) did not say to these people: “I was one with God in will,” but: “I am one with God in will.” And this is the very chapter in which His words are now being interpreted (by some) to mean the exact opposite. I tell you: something is wrong; dreadfully wrong!

What was it that Christ was trying to tell them in those words, “I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me?” He was trying to make them understand that in rejecting Him they were actually rejecting His Father, the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, the One whom they claimed to believe in and of whom they claimed to be sons of. In chapter seven He made a similar statement:

“My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me.”  {John 7:16}

Surely everyone can see that He was not saying that His doctrine was different than His Father’s. What He was saying was that in rejecting His doctrine they were actually rejecting the Father’s doctrine, whom they claimed to believe in and obey.

Now I want to begin looking at the other time Jesus made the statement, “Not my will, but thine”–the garden of Gethsemane. Truly, this occasion was completely different from those first two and is worthy of the most serious consideration, as well as contemplation:

“It would be well for us to spend a thoughtful hour each day in contemplation of the life of Christ. We should take it point by point, and let the imagination grasp each scene, especially the closing ones. As we thus dwell upon His great sacrifice for us, our confidence in Him will be more constant, our love will be quickened, and we shall be more deeply imbued with His spirit.”  {Desire of Ages 83}

In the attempt to clarify this point, and in keeping with that last quote, I will be quoting fairly large portions of Ellen White’s account of the struggle that Jesus went through in Gethsemane. Please, take your time, and pray that God will not only show you the truth on this point, but that He will also impress upon your heart as never before, “His great sacrifice for us.”

Was Christ’s will in the garden of Gethsemane different than His Father’s? Yes it was. Does this fact therefore lend validity to this teaching that Christ’s will was less than perfect and that He wanted to do wrong? Absolutely not!

One extremely important thing needs to be understood and kept in mind here. That agonizing plea of Christ in Gethsemane: “O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me. Nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt,” was not the result of His wanting to do wrong; it is exactly the opposite: it was because it was here that the plan of salvation, as well as the Father’s will, called for Him to begin taking upon Himself the wrongs of the entire world:

“Christ was now standing in a different attitude from that in which He had ever stood before…Throughout His life on earth He had walked in the light of God’s presence…But now He seemed to be shut out from the light of God’s sustaining presence. Now He was numbered with the transgressors. The guilt of fallen humanity He must bear. Upon Him who knew no sin must be laid the iniquity of us all. So dreadful does sin appear to Him, so great is the weight of guilt which He must bear, that He is tempted to fear it will shut Him out forever from His Father’s love. Feeling how terrible is the wrath of God against transgression, He exclaims, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.”  {Desire of Ages 686, 685}

Was that agonizing plea: “O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me. Nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt,” made because there was a part of Him that was being “drawn away of His own evil desires?” Was it made because there was a part of Him that wanted to pursue a course that would take Him away from His Father? Perish the thought! That agonizing plea was made for exactly the opposite reason:

“He felt that by sin He was being separated from His Father. The gulf was so broad, so black, so deep, that His spirit shuddered before it…The conflict was terrible…The sins of men weighed heavily upon Christ, and the sense of God’s wrath against sin was crushing out His life.
“Behold Him contemplating the price to be paid for the human soul. In His agony He clings to the cold ground, as if to prevent Himself from being drawn farther from God…From His pale lips comes the bitter cry, “O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me.” Yet even now He adds, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”  {Desire of Ages 686, 687}

“His soul was pressed with such agony as no human being could endure and live. The sins of the world were upon him. He felt that he was separated from his Father’s love; for upon him rested the curse because of sin…Human minds cannot conceive of the insupportable anguish which tortured the soul of our Redeemer.”  {Signs of the Times, August 14, 1879}

“We can have but faint conceptions of the inexpressible anguish of God’s dear Son in Gethsemane, as He realized His separation from His Father in consequence of bearing man’s sin. He became sin for the fallen race. The sense of the withdrawal of His Father’s love pressed from His anguished soul these mournful words: ‘My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.’ ‘If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me.’ Then with entire submission to His Father’s will, He adds: ‘Nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.’
“The divine Son of God was fainting, dying.”  {2 Testimonies 206}

In the light of all that the Spirit of Prophecy has written to help us better understand and appreciate Christ’s struggle in Gethsemane, to then use those agonizing words, “Not my will but thine,” as support for the idea that there was a part of Him that wanted to do wrong, or that His will was less than perfect, is error that all Heaven must find incredibly disturbing.

Another point, a most crucial one, needs to be brought out. Those words, “Not my will, but thine”, are inseparably connected to the fact that Christ was taking upon Himself the sins of the entire world. Not one of us will ever be called to take upon ourselves the sins of the world; therefore, to use those words, “Not my will, but thine”, as the least justification for our will being different from God’s will is a mistake of the greatest magnitude, which will lead to tragic consequences.

I would like to finish this chapter with two quotes, two questions, and two statements:

“Again the Son of God was seized with superhuman agony, and fainting and exhausted, He staggered back to the place of His former struggle.”  {Desire of Ages 689}

“It was a struggle, even with the King of the universe, to yield up His Son to die for the guilty race.”  {Patriarchs and Prophets 63}

Question #1—What caused the Son of God’s struggle: was it the pull of His fallen nature, or was it “the refined sensibilities of His holy nature?”

Statement #1—When all is said and done, it will be seen that that which caused the Son of God’s struggle was exactly the same as that which caused the King of the universe’s struggle: a horrible realization of just how much it was going to cost to save us from sin. (Something we will spend all eternity studying.)

Question #2—Do the words, “he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father,” find fulfillment even when Christ was crying out, “Not My will, but Thine”?

Statement #2—Every moment of His life Christ was revealing to all the universe the character (and love) of the Father. (Something else we will spend all eternity studying.)