Living by faith is hard. Faithfulness means accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior. Hence, it means obeying Him. We cannot say “No” to someone we acknowledge as “Lord.” But saying “Yes” to Jesus is never easy, because it means we must first say “No” to ourselves. We are making ourselves vulnerable to God’s will.
Perhaps we experience this struggle to varying degrees in life, but in Matthew 26, in the place called Gethsemane, Jesus faces a test of faithfulness beyond anything we can ever imagine, because in this moment, everything is at stake. Jesus knows that he is about to be “delivered up to be crucified” (Matt 26:2). He understands that his blood is “poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt 26:28). Not only that, he knows that he is going to be resurrected (Matt 16:21). Nevertheless, Jesus’ soul is “very sorrowful, even to death” (Matt 26:38). Jesus understands his mission, but he also feels the gravity of the suffering he is about to endure.
Many of us know we can trust God. It is easy for us to say that we will submit ourselves to his will. But knowing that God is faithful does not prevent us from fearing that He will fail if we put our trust in Him. No matter how many times God has proven Himself in the past, we can’t help but wonder, “What if God doesn’t pull through this time”? That’s the scary thought. Jesus knows why he is going to be crucified, and he knows that the result will be, but with the reality of death staring him in the face, he falls on his face and prays, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me” (Matt 26:39a).
Praise be to God, we know that this is not the end of the story. “Nevertheless,” continues Jesus, “not as I will, but as you will” (Matt 26:39b). He submits to God. We shouldn’t dismiss this, thinking that it is easy for Jesus to obey since, after all, he is God. “The spirit indeed is willing,” says Jesus, “but the flesh is weak” (Matt 26:41). This is a hard thing for Jesus to do. It doesn’t seem that Jesus is speaking here of weakness due to sin; rather, he is simply referring to human weakness, the fact that even when we want to follow God, we just don’t know if we can handle it. We want to trust him, but what if it costs us our lives?
The truth is, the flesh is weak. Jesus went to the cross. He was bruised, crushed, and pierced. He was shamed in public, in front of his disciples, in front of his mother. He bled. He suffered. He died. This is real weakness.
But he was also resurrected on the third day, and not in spirit only. For we believe in a bodily resurrection; Jesus is alive in the flesh. Therein lies our hope. For those of us who are in Christ, we believe that if we die with him, we will also be raised up with him. And we will die, because the glory of following God is a burden too great for mortal flesh to bear. Being faithful as Christ is faithful means that we also take up our crosses and follow him–to death, yes, but even more so to the resurrection, to the new life.
Therefore, we can trust, follow, and obey God despite our fears and uncertainties. And even when it seems that God has forsaken us, as Jesus felt forsaken on the cross, we know that this is not the end of the story. True, it is hard to live by faith. It is hard to say “No” to ourselves and “Yes” to God. But our faith will not be disappointed. For by raising Jesus (and us with Him), God has proven Himself to be faithful and righteous and true, once for all.