It began in the very depths of his being, grief and sorrow at what his Father planned for him erupting into tears and deep sobs that shook his body, sending him into the dust, prostrate before the Throne of God.
“Oh God,” he cried, “Oh my God, my God.”
Words could not express his anguish. Neither words, nor tears, nor grief. But words were still necessary, despite the grief, because of the fear, in order to overcome the temptation.
“Not my will, not my will but yours, O God,” he repeated over and over again, breathless, his fists clenching and unclenching, his fingernails biting into his palms.
After a while, his thoughts turned to his friends and the danger they were in. He lurched to his feet and stumbled down the hill. When he found them, they were asleep.
He shook Simon Peter from his groggy sleep.
“Pray with me,” he said. “Stay awake and pray. The enemy is near.” Simon Peter roughly pushed James and Yochanan into a sitting position. They all averted their eyes and started to pray again.
Again Yeshua stumbled away, groping his way up the path. He tripped over a loose rock and banged his knee as he fell. His hands shot out and a wicked thorn caught him in the palm of his hand and drew blood. He hardly noticed. He was sprawled out, half on the path and half in the shadow of a nearby olive tree.
“Oh God, spare me your wrath. I cannot bear it. It is too much for me.” The tears squeezed out of him and ran down his face in a river of grief. “Oh God, Oh God, Oh God,” he repeated over and over again. “Father, don’t be angry with me. It is too much for me.”
And then a long moment of silence and he whispered, so quietly that he was not even sure that he had said it aloud, “Not my will, only yours be done….only yours…..always yours.”
But then the grief and fear came again and almost overwhelmed him with its power. “Oh God, no, I can’t bear it. How can I bear your anger? Without your love I am destroyed. It is too much for me.” And the tears came again, and sobs racked his body again and again.
Time stood still, everything suspended in anticipation while the Son of the Living God wept and sobbed shamelessly until there were no tears left, just the exhaustion of grief. He lifted his head slowly and glanced into the dark sky but only the deep void of heaven confronted him as he sought for some sign from his Father.
The Heavens were silent. Silent and dark and waiting.
He searched deep within himself and found the only answer that he could give in this dark night of the soul. “Not my will, only yours be done…..I trust you. I trust you.” He took a deep breath, his entire body shuddering. “I know who you are. I trust you even with this.”
He placed his palms in the dirt and pushed himself up to his knees. He had to get back to his disciples. They were in danger. He swayed as he stood up but turned and made his way back down the hill. He almost tripped over Simon Peter, wrapped in his cloak and fast asleep.
“No, no,” Yeshua said. “You need to stay awake and pray. This is not the time for sleeping.” He knelt down and grabbed Simon Peter’s arm and shook it so hard that he came awake with a startled look.
“I’m so sorry, so sorry. It won’t happen again.” Simon Peter said, shaking his head fiercely. Then he shook James and Yochanan awake.
“Come on, you two, wake up. The Master is here. We should be praying.”
Yeshua stayed for a few minutes to pray with them and for them. He was the High Priest and, in the end, he would always have to pray for them. The spirit was willing but the flesh was weak. Most of all, he knew from personal experience what temptation was truly like. He knew its power, he knew its threat, he knew its deception.
He got up, numb and cold and tired, his head bowed, his eyes unseeing and retraced his steps through the olive grove to be alone with his grief. He passed a wine press and reached out his hand to steady himself. He sensed a deep oppression upon him as if the weight of that massive rock was on his back, the olive oil slowly pressed out of him and flowing into the cistern below. He shuddered violently, and started to take in great gulps of breath as his mind was gripped by a deep sadness and sudden fear. He fell to the ground, his hand grabbing a fistful of dust and throwing it on his head, and then his fist pounded into the earth once and then twice and then, finally, a third time. He lifted his head, stretching his neck back and sent his fierce gaze into the sky.
“Why? Why must it be so? How can I become what my soul hates?” How can I accept what my heart so completely rejects?”
The questions swirled through his mind but understanding would not come. He lay his head back down in the crook of his arm and curled up into a ball and began to rock back and forth. “No, no, no, no, no……” and then a determined pause and a deep, shuddering sigh. “Yes, yes, yes, yes…..” The affirmations seem to ooze out of some deep place within him and simply appeared on his lips but he grabbed on to each one of them like a drowning man.
“Yes, your will be done. I trust you. Your will be done.”
He trusted Him. It was as simple as that.
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The Temptations of the Cross by Bert A. Amsing
Copyright © 2012 by vanKregten Publishers. All rights reserved.
Footnotes and references included in original manuscript.