March 29, 2024

Not My Will but Yours

R.C. Sproul
Not My Will but Yours

Knowing the incomparable suffering that lay before Him, Jesus prayed that the cup of divine wrath might pass from Him. Today, R.C. Sproul considers Christ’s loving submission to the Father when this request was not granted.


Lots of us have wrestled in prayer before God. I’m sure many of you know what it means to pray in anguish, praying for five hours at a time, like Jacob wrestling with the angel, refusing to let go of God, pleading with Him. We know what that’s like, to pray with passion.

Has anybody in this room ever prayed with such intensity that your sweat became blood? The Scripture tells us that when Jesus was in Gethsemane, He sweat blood. Now, we can look at that as perhaps an example of poetic license of the author, an example of hyperbole to communicate with that kind of imagery that Jesus was very, very intense, super intense in His prayer life. I don’t think so. I think He really sweat blood, because no human being in history ever faced the ordeal that was before Him.

Socrates had to drink a cup. A cup of hemlock was a humane way to execute a criminal. He drinks the hemlock. In a short period of time, a numbness begins to come over his body, feelings disappear, and he passes away. But that’s not the cup that was waiting for Jesus. The cup that was waiting for Jesus was not the anger of the unruly mob in Jerusalem or the punitive measures prepared for Him by Pontius Pilate or the members of the Sanhedrin. The cup was the cup of the wrath of God, the unmitigated wrath of God. That’s what was in that cup.

This One, who just a short time before manifested the beatific vision to those around Him, this One who was in such perfect unity with God that He’s the divine Logos incarnate—this One is now asked to face the fury of the Lord God omnipotent. And He cries: “Father, let this cup pass from Me. Father, is there any other way? Do I have to step into the arena of Your wrath? I’m Your only begotten Son. I’m the One in whom You’re well pleased. Let it pass from Me, please. Nevertheless, not My will, but Your will be done. I’ve had it in My mind. I’ve told My disciples: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered to the gentiles. He must be handed over to those who despise Him. He must undergo the punishment of the curse of the law.’ I understand that, and I prepared for it, Father. I’ve studied My Old Testament. I know what lies before Me. I know what My messianic task is. And I’m prepared to do it, but I’ve just got to make sure. Are You sure that’s what You want? If it is, I’ll do it, but is there another way?”

The Scripture does not record any words from heaven. There are a few occasions in the Bible that tell us that God answered Jesus audibly but not that night. But Jesus knew what the answer was. He said, “Father, let this cup pass from Me.” And the Father said, “No.”

There’s a brand of Christianity running around loose in this country that is about 10 percent Christian and 90 percent superstition. If any professed Christian ever tells you that God always says yes to your prayers, from such, turn away. If any Christian ever tells you that God always wills for your life blessing and joy with no suffering, no pain, no humiliation, that one is not telling you the truth. And if you ever have any doubts about that, go back to Gethsemane. God said, “No.”