Wednesday of the 2nd Week of Lent
“You do not know what you are asking,” Jesus answered. “Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?”
When John and James’ mother approached Jesus with her request that her sons sit at the left and right of Jesus, she (and her sons too) probably did not understand the magnitude of what it entailed. I almost feel a tinge of sadness in Jesus’s voice when he says, “You do not know what you are asking”, for he knows what is coming, and his love for his disciples makes him wish that they would not have to go through what he would be going through. Jesus too, wished that he did not have to do the same, as he prayed to God in the Garden of Gethsemane to take the cup of suffering away from him.
John and James’ request to sit at either side of Jesus meant that they would have to take up versions of Jesus’ cross for themselves. After the two brothers made the request of Jesus, the other apostles got angry and argued with the brothers. What made them so special that they got to be greater than the rest of them? How could they possibly think they had the right to make such a request? Ambition can sometimes blind us to the sacrifices we need to make to achieve it. How many rock stars have come back later in life to say they were forced to change who they were to achieve success? In the same context, are we too, ready to do or be something that we’re not prepared to achieve something we want?
Jesus’ mission was to bring salvation to mankind by being the ultimate sacrifice himself, but to achieve the goal of salvation, he first had to bear the cross. His sacrifice illustrates what we need to do to get to the other side — to pick up the cross that God has set for us. It’s so easy to say that we want all the glory and success in life without having to go through the blood, sweat and tears. Oftentimes, we want things to be easy. There is a line in the movie ‘A League of Their Own’, where Geena Davis’ character wants to quit baseball because it “got too hard”, but Tom Hanks’ character says, “Well if it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it!”. But easy means that we’re asking for things on our terms. God never said things would be easy. He didn’t say that there wouldn’t be a cross, but the promise of a crown at the end of it gives us a reason to strive forward.
When we strip away the glory, at the heart of it all is a very humbling understanding — “God’s will be done”. When Jesus sweated blood at the Garden of Gethsemane and asked God to remove the cup he was about to drink, he also prayed to God, “Yet not my will, but yours, be done.” Not my terms, God, but Yours.
For God’s ways are better than ours, God’s plans for us are better than ours. God wants us to be fighters of faith, even if it means we have to take the long and hard way to get there. So the question is, are we ready to take up our cross and go down that road, clothed only in the faith of God’s promise at the end of it all? Are we ready to strip back our ambition and say, “Not my will, but Yours be done”?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Annette Soo)
Prayer: Lord, it is so easy to ask for what I want without considering what you want for me. Help me fight that in my prayers and petitions, and ask instead to have the patience and perseverance to do your will.
Thanksgiving: Lord, the road is long, winding and hard, and I stumble and fall in my fatigue. Yet I soldier on, knowing that you are walking beside me, and at the end of it, you will be there to celebrate the victory with me. Thank you for never abandoning me.
Thank you! Especially your prayer.