Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "O Sacred Head Sore Wounded"1 (Lyrics)
Let's read again the account of Christ at Gethsemane just before His arrest, but this time, watch the words "nevertheless" and "but".
Matthew 26:39 – He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." (NKJV)
Luke and Mark also recount Christ's "nevertheless … but" prayer. In our English Bibles, two different Greek words are translated "nevertheless". One is a simple word like "but" that just means "contrariwise". The other Greek word, which is used in this passage, is closer in meaning to "notwithstanding", which implies comparison to something more in quantity, number, or quality — a superlative, the best.
As I mentioned yesterday, I used to believe that as He anticipated His death on the cross, Christ prayed, "Thy will be done" under compulsion, with a grudging attitude of "Oh, all right, if I have to". But I had overlooked the "nevertheless … but".
This year, during meditations for Lent, my attention was drawn to many Scriptures that challenged me to think again. Jesus said:
John 12:24 – Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. (NKJV)
John 16:7 – Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. (NKJV)
Hebrews 12:2 – Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (NKJV)
Despite the necessary, agonizingly horrible prospect of crucifixion, death, burial — and defeat of evil and resurrection — Jesus determined, Himself, for His Father's "nevertheless, but always more and best" way with calm joy. What He said to Peter at His arrest indicates that He gave Himself willingly to the task as an act of worship:
John 18:11b – Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me? (NKJV)
Jesus' worship and dedication while alive in the flesh, His death on the cross, and His continuing ministry of intercession for us in heaven are all summed up in His prayer to the Father from the garden of Gethsemane, "Thy will be done."
From now on, I will make my "Thy will be done" prayers as conscious, deliberate prayers of worship to God who provides "but always more and best". I want my "Thy will be done" prayers to make joyous dedication of myself to my Maker. How about you?
Prayer: Father, with grateful hearts, we ask in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, enable us to do Your compassionate will of grace! Amen.