The Command That Never Came
“And going a little farther He fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.’“
– Matthew 26:39
“Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father and he will at once send me more than 12 legions of angels?”
– Matthew 26:53
See the perfect submission, the perfect, love-bound obedience of Christ…
He falls on His face in bleeding, soul-crushing agony and pours His heart out to His Father, asking if He really must drink the cup of wrath – if he really must swallow the equivalence of eternal Hell. And yet, running like an unchanging subterranean river under all His sincere pain is His deepest desire: The Father’s will. He will go to the cross, He will bear the damnation of His Bride in Himself because He loves His Father.
There is an ocean of love in the heart of God the Son for God the Father, and at Gethsemane, that ocean overflows the banks of natural self-preservation and drowns the Lake of Fire that had been reserved for the people of God (John 14:31)…..”Not as I will, but as you will” is an awesome moment.
With this Love-born resolution freshly affirmed in His heart, Christ rises to meet His accusers, and night descends. The Lord of heaven and earth is bound and carried off like a criminal to face the injustice of Rome and the justice of God. And then in v. 53 we are reminded that, with a silent prayer, Christ could call down more than 72,000 angelic warriors to slaughter not just His captors, but the entire human race if need be…and yet He refrains….
Consider the implications of that statement. This means that all throughout Christ’s last hours on earth, one word would have ended His torment. Imagine the hosts of heaven, glittering like a living galaxy with their celestial armor and white-hot spears, standing tensed and ready at the threshold of their realms…waiting the slightest nod from the Father that would release them to go…waiting for any indication from the Son that He would have them fight for Him…waiting for the command………and it never comes…it never comes…The rods fall on His back, the spit sprinkles His face, thorns cut into His head, jeers pelt Him like stones, steel tears through His veins, and finally, the Father Himself raises the War Hammer of Wrath and crushes human sin in the human flesh of His Beloved Son…and the command never comes.
And why does it never come? Love
Love for the Father (John 14:31) that expresses itself in the Father being glorified (John 12:27-28) through the Son’s wrath absorbing, Name-declaring, God-manifesting death (John 17:5, 26).
And love for His bride (John 15:13) that expresses by bearing her sin and dying in her place so that she might be granted eyes to see and know and love the glory of God in Christ, crucified and risen (John 3:15-16 + 17:3).
Here is eternal love on display…our King kept His feet on the path of suffering, He walked into the furnace of God’s wrath and He carried “our sins in His body” (1 Peter 2:24)…Glory, glory, glory to God and to the Lamb!