The account of Jesus and his crucial prayer in Gethsemane is for me the most deeply moving episode in the life of Christ. It was there, after pleading with the Father to take away the cup of suffering, that he yielded to his destiny as the Sacrificial Lamb, saying, “May it be your will that is done, not mine” (Mark 14:36 and parallels). This final commitment followed a time of “deep distress” that rolled over him like a great wave, and “fervent prayer” that caused his sweat to fall to the ground like heavy drops of blood. To exacerbate the incredibly difficult situation he found that upon returning to where his disciples were stationed, he found them sleeping. This happened three times. Against this background we see Jesus admonishing them rather gently while supplying as an excuse for their failure to stay awake, “Man’s spirit is willing, but human nature is weak.” After the last return he added, in what appears to be a rather normal tone, “Rouse yourselves! Let’s be going. Look, here comes my betrayer” (Matt, 26:46).
What captures my attention in the story is that after such a crucial time of testing (no one will ever fathom the depths of Jesus’ commitment to bear our sins) Jesus displays an emotional composure that is calm and remarkably balanced. Subsequent events relate how he discussed with those who came to arrest him their reason for picking that particular place and moment, how he healed the servant’s ear that had been slashed by Peter’s impulsive sword, and how he turned himself over to the authorities as his disciples fled. He was in complete control. Having made that final acceptance of the Father’s will seemed to grant him complete composure for the events that were soon to happen.
Obviously, you and I will never have an experience like that, but it is true that once our faith has turned into conviction a great calmness will cover our days as well. Instead of worried adjustments for every minor issue of daily life we will be able to accept whatever the day holds with a serenity not unlike what we see in the Gethsemane encounter. If God is in control of our life, what happens will be part of that plan and his plans for each of us are the best of all possibilities. There is no need to be anxious because we are no longer responsible for what happens, only for how we react to them. Living like that reflects the way Jesus lived.