Jesus Christ taught a fundamental lesson of the Plan of Salvation in Matthew 26:36-45
“Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
It is apparent that the disciples had great faith as shown throughout the scriptures. However, I think we can see the weaknesses of man as he cedes to do his own will of sleeping when tired instead of the will of the Father in staying awake with His Son. Their natural man conquers the spiritual man. Surely, what they wanted and what they needed were in conflict. They needed to stay awake and support the Savior because as special witnesses of Him, it was their calling. But they wanted to fall asleep. They followed their want instead of their need. But let’s not be so hard on them…who of us hasn’t abandoned God’s will to what he most wanted? Just one, only One man.
Jesus Christ shows us a counter example. His soul was sorrowful, filled with anguish and in the dark hours of night, he prayed alone unto His Father. In this moment we can see what His want is too. Just like anyone, Christ felt the weight of His future sacrifice drawing nigh and He wanted out. He asked our Heavenly Father if He might be able to just remove this great burden from Him. That was the want. But He was perfect. His physical desires and natural man had been long before suppressed through His obedience and He let his want take second place to the greater need that we all had: that someone save us from our sins.
The story continues and we see that Jesus Christ overcomes his natural desires for give up the burden two more times while the Apostles continue to struggle with a simple burden of drowsiness. Even though He gives them two more chances, they fail to stay awake…
After completing his part of the sacrifice in the Garden, He comforted them saying, “Sleep on now, and take your rest” even though there would be no rest for Him.
Both the Apostles and Jesus Christ were confronted with a burden of relative difficulty. For both, their trials tested their limits but both were bearable and passable. Paul affirms that no temptation is stronger than what we can bear. What then did Christ do to have success and the Apostles not? What principle did He exercise that they didn’t? It was so clear to me when I read this that I can’t believe I had never before seen it…
“Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt."
Every time Jesus was faced with the difficulty, He gave his own will up for God’s. In giving up His will to God, Jesus was strengthened and comforted and His needs were met instead of His wants.
Clearly, what we want is not always what we need. I had a long conversation with my companion one night this week about this and I ended up learning a lot more about why the things have happened in the mission.
At the beginning of the mission, I knew what I wanted! I wanted to be obedient. I wanted to baptize. I wanted to help people. I wanted to be a missionary. I wanted to feel the spirit and be directed by it find and teach others. I might say that my own wants were noteworthy and appropriate. However, many a time I found myself with a willing spirit and a weak flesh. I can’t count how many times I have nodded off in prayers like the apostles.
I was not willing to give up my own ways. Sometimes it was hard for me to realize that I didn’t know how to do some things. One companion taught me how to better relate with people. Another taught me more patience. Another showed me my weakness in teaching. Others showed my weak faith. Little by little I think the Lord point out to me that my spirit was willing but my flesh was weak and that I need to do His will instead of my own. As I began doing that, I had success.
It was hard for people in our area this week for example to accept God’s will when their little girl of nine years hit by a speeding car and killed. They were heartbroken and surely they felt they wanted their own daughter. We comforted them and prayed with them. We sang and gave them a blessing. But in the end, we all needed to accept God’s will. Jesus shows us how.
Jesus gains strength in prayer. I can remember a few nights in particular that I prayed and prayed and I turned my heart over to God. I, in many ways, said for His will to be done and I accepted the work, test, trial that He would require, however uncomfortable. It was in those times that I felt His strength and His rest.
I am thankful for my Savior Jesus Christ. I am thankful for my mission that has helped me learn how to better seek my needs through doing God’s will than my own wants through my own will. God knows best what is best for us. I many times wanted other companions, other areas, and other types of experiences but in the long run I have realized that everything that has happened in the mission has helped me personally.
I love the Lord and my prayer is that we can all be a little more accepting of His will and saying humbly in prayer, “nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Elder Grant Russell