Youth Sunday School Lesson - November 8,2009
As we continue this week with our study on Christian choices and how we should go about making them, we arrive at the story of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. This choice remains the most crucial choice ever made on the earth, even more critical than the wrong choice made by Adam and Eve in another garden back in the beginning of the Bible. A look at how those choices, both made in gardens, shaped the human race is a study in contrasts and something well worth our time and effort to look into.
I see several things in this passage of scripture that may not be readily apparent if you only perform a casual reading of the verses. First, Jesus was not a martyr. A martyr is someone who gives his or her life willingly for a cause. We think of Joan of Arc as an example of a martyr and others like her. A martyr goes willingly to their death because they have no other option besides changing their outlook or compromising their beliefs. We read in Matthew 26:53 that Jesus could have called ‘more than twelve legions of angels’ if He had wanted to change the situation. He had a choice, and it was a tough one – an agonizing one. Jesus’ choice was to go to His death as a sacrifice for our sins, knowing that it was His Father’s will that He do so.
I also notice that unlike a suicide bomber, Jesus does not rush haphazardly to His death. I read in verse 39: “And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” If you read this verse carefully, you will notice that although He is torn by the dilemma He faces, there is no indication that Jesus would disobey His Father. He simply asks God if there is another option besides going to His death on the cross. Neither a suicide bomber nor a martyr seeks another option – their minds are made up from the beginning. Once Jesus understands that there is no other way to bring salvation to the world, He readily accepts His Father’s will.
This is the central idea and the key thought of our lesson on choices this week. Jesus made the choice to put His Father’s will over His own will. We should always thank God for the decision that Jesus made on that dark, lonely night in the garden. His obedient choice removed the curse on mankind that came about as a result of Adam’s disobedient choice that was made back in Genesis. Philippians 2:8 explains this better for us:” And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
Sometimes we will be called upon to make tough choices in our lives. At times we may have to make a decision that goes against what the world considers to be ‘good’ or ‘wise’. But at all times and during all of our choices, from the important ones to the ones that seem to be small, we should always seek God’s will before we choose which path to take. We need to trust our Heavenly Father and do our best to seek His will for our lives. He knows better than we do and can see the future we will have ahead of us. Once we fully trust God in our lives, becoming obedient to His will can become an easier thing for us to do.
Finally, there is something unique about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane that we may never know and can never fully comprehend. In fact, we will never truly understand all that happened on that night almost two thousand years ago. What we do know is that it all came down to Jesus making a choice – His will or His Father’s will. In the end He chose His Father’s will and in so doing He made a way for us to receive salvation through His death on the cross the following day. His death paid the penalty for our sin.
In our own daily lives as Christians, when faced with difficult choices, we should always seek to place God’s will over our own will. Remember the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy (not my) will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”